John Harbaugh shows love for Ravens fans

The Baltimore Ravens have become a part of many families in the city and surrounding areas. That is what happens when a team’s mindset and style of play embodies the city where it is located. Winning a couple of Super Bowls and being a perennial contender doesn’t hurt either.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is one of the two coaches who have brought a championship to Baltimore. He is the son of a coach and was raised with a tremendous work ethic and toughness. It’s no wonder he is close to the Ravens fans.

Plans to have 7,500 fans at M&T Bank Stadium for Ravens games have not materialized as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter everyone’s way of living. Harbaugh took time on Monday, October 12, 2020 to let the fans know he was thinking about them.

“I just want to say, we miss our fans. We have a great fan base; that stadium would’ve been rocking and rolling “ yesterday and they would’ve been fired up for what they saw. I think they would’ve been really into the game,” Harbaugh said about last Sunday’s game.

He went on to recreate the scene when he drives into the stadium and sees the fans tailgating. Harbaugh said he loves seeing the high-fives and smiling faces as well as the “not so smiling ones.”

The drum line at Ravens home games is one of his favorite parts of the game day experience.

“The thing that’s really cool at the game is the drum corps. I don’t know if the people on TV get a chance to hear that or not, but that drum corps is first- rate,” Harbaugh said with excitement. “It kind of reminds you of Friday night lights out there. I hope it’s a tradition. I’m going to put pressure on [Ravens president] Dick Cass right now. That needs to be a tradition that we carry forward here in the future, inside the stadium and outside the stadium, maybe even in the tailgating [lots] when that comes back. That drum corps is really … it’s football, to me, and it really makes a statement.”

The Ravens fan experience isn’t just at home games. When they take the show on the road, fans go with them. That doesn’t go unnoticed by Harbaugh. He hopes to have the fans back at some point as the Ravens make their push towards a third Super Bowl trophy.

“We have great fans, even on the road. We miss you. We hear you. We know you’re out there. We know you’re cheering, and we really appreciate you. I just wanted to say that. So, thanks to all the people who are watching and care. We’ll see you soon when this whole thing gets back to normal,” Harbaugh added.

Ravens Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews becoming potent duo

Two years ago, the Baltimore Ravens decided it was time to re-energize their offense. The team traded back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and selected Lamar Jackson, one of the most electrifying prospects at that time. The Ravens added tight end Mark Andrews in the third round of that same draft.

The two showed flashes as rookies, but last season was truly a breakout year for them. Jackson led the league with 36 passing touchdowns and was named NFL MVP. Andrews was on the receiving end of 10 of Jackson’s passing touchdowns, solidifying himself as one of the most dangerous tight ends in the league.

The Jackson-to-Andrews connection hooked up two times for touchdowns in the season opener, but failed to get into the end zone in the next two games against the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs. They got back on track on Sunday, October 4, 2020 in the Ravens’ 31-17 win over the Washington Football Team when Jackson found Andrews for two touchdowns.

“It felt wonderful. Our chemistry, really, never left. It was just a hiccup in the [Kansas City] game, I guess. We’re good— it was great to have the chemistry going today,” Jackson said after the game.

“It’s great. Any time you can find the end zone, and you can throw a couple touchdowns, it feels great,” Andrews added.

The chemistry and trust that a quarterback has in their tight ends is crucial for an offense like the Ravens that relies on throwing the ball between the hashes. So far this season, Andrews has 12 receptions for 166 yards and four touchdowns.

Andrews has become an ultra-reliable option for Jackson because the two work at it all the time. “We’re working hard in practice, and we’re just hitting our stride. We’re just going to keep on getting better. When you have a guy like [No.] 8 [Lamar Jackson], it’s just fun to go around and fly around and play games. It was a good win,” Andrews said.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has a front row seat to observe the work that Andrews and Jackson do every day. He can’t put an exact finger on what makes it work so well. All he knows is that it’s productive.

“I’ll tell you what, I wish I could honestly give you some kind of a scientific answer but it really is more art than science,” Harbaugh said. “I think, sometimes, it’s the throws. Sometimes, it’s the catch. Sometimes, it’s the coverage. Sometimes, it’s just the wind. Sometimes, it’s whatever, and that’s just the way football goes. No two games are ever the same, so you really can’t evaluate them in the same place. Those two guys have a great connection. I did call him Mark Jackson, coming off [the field] after the one touchdown.”

The Ravens hope to keep riding the Jackson to Andrews connection as they march through the season. Right now, the Ravens (3-1) sit behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) in the AFC North standings. Andrews has never scored a receiving touchdown against the Steelers. Baltimore would like to see that happen when the Ravens host the Steelers later this month.

Ravens prepare to move on from ugly loss to Chiefs

Monday night’s contest against the Kansas City Chiefs was supposed to be a coming out party for the Baltimore Ravens. They welcomed the defending Super Bowl Champions to M&T Bank Stadium for a clash of top teams on the AFC.

The Chiefs came out firing on all cylinders, putting 27 points on the board in the first half and won the game 34-20. Patrick Mahomes led an orchestrated attack that had Baltimore’s defense on their heels for most of the game.

“We got beat just about every way you can get beat, and we understand that. We have a long way to go to get better. This will be a beginning for us,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “We just have to take this situation as we find it and find our way through it and build as a football team.”

The Ravens have to regroup quickly as they get ready to play the Washington Football Team on Sunday. The players were back in the team facility on Tuesday to dissect the frustrating loss and move forward. Veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell said he will apply the 24-hour rule to the loss just the same as he does to wins.“You have 24 hours to grieve or celebrate. Then you study the film and move on,” Campbell said after the game.

The convincing loss would send a weak team on a downward spiral. The Ravens are determined not to let it snowball into a losing streak. No player is ever happy with a loss, but veteran defensive back Jimmy Smith is making the best of the situation.

“I’m not discouraged. I don’t think we’re discouraged at all. I think the good thing about playing a team like that—that is just hitting on all cylinders right now—is they can show you where we’re weak at, and they did. So, we get the chance to go back and fix it. So, I don’t think our team is discouraged by any means. I think it’s just an opportunity to go see what happened, look at it, fix it up, tweak some things, maybe add some new things and go out and play,” Smith said.

“Get back in the book get right back to the grind. You don’t want to sit and sulk. You don’t sit and sulk about anything in life; it’ll just weigh on you too much. Just get in there and correct it. Let’s fix it, because we have a game in six days, so we don’t have time to sit there and sulk about anything.”

Baltimore is 0-3 against the Chiefs with Lamar Jackson as quarterback. Jackson called Kansas City his kryptonite after the lopsided loss in which he finished with 97 passing yards.

The Ravens still sit on top of the AFC North with a 2-1 record and they still have one of the leagues top-rated defenses. It’s not time to throw in the towel.

Baltimore has to shift focus to the next game in front of them and take steps each week of the season to lone themselves up with a rematch against the Chiefs in the playoffs. Tight end Nick Boyle who scored a touchdown on Monday firmly believes the Ravens will bounce back.

“I’m not worried,” Boyle noted. “Because I know what kind of people that are in this locker room. I know the relationships we have, and I think that will carry us forward. It will drive us to do better and hold each other accountable.”

Ravens Lamar Jackson shows he can win from the pocket

Lamar Jackson’s passing ability was criticized before the 2017 NFL Draft despite throwing for 9,043 yards, 69 touchdowns and finishing with a 142.9 quarterback rating at Louisville. Jackson won the Heisman trophy in 2016.

As a rookie, Jackson’s explosive running, style was showcased by the Baltimore Ravens during their improbable run to an AFC North title. Critics challenged Jackson’s passing ability once again after his rookie season.

Jackson answered by throwing for an NFL best 31 touchdown passes last season while leading the Ravens to a franchise high 14-2 record. In only his second season, Jackson was named the NFL Most Valuable Player, becoming the second player to receive a unanimous selection for the award.

No quarterback besides Jackson has ever finished with 3,000 or more passing yards while rushing for over 1,000 yards. Jackson was virtually unstoppable.

His video game like highlights and countless big plays were still not good enough. To critics, the next requirement for Jackson was to win from the pocket.

Jackson completed 20 of his 25 pass attempts for 275 yards and three touchdowns in Baltimore’s 38-6 win over the Cleveland Browns to start the season. His three touchdown passes in the game was the ninth time he has done so since the start of the 2019 season. That’s more than Drew Brees (7), Patrick Mahomes (6), and Dak Prescott (6). If Jackson’s performance in the season opener is any indication, critics will need to find a new obstacle for him. “I thought he just showed great poise in the pocket the whole game. He had a good awareness of the rush. They were bringing it. They have really good pass rushers. They mixed up their coverage man, zone, different types of zone coverage and he had just a great feel for it,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday, September 14, 2020. “All those things were just really indicative of a well-played quarterback game. Lamar played an excellent game, and the passing game the drop-back passing game was really the main part of that. I thought he just did a great job.” Jackson worked hard during the offseason to improve as a passer. The effort carried over to training camp “I do. [It’s] just dedication” Jackson said when asked if he feels he has improved. “Coach ‘Urb [Quarterbacks coach James Urban] is doing a great job— the QB drills, being consistent, even though sometimes, we might just repeat it, just to keep that dialed in, in our heads and keep my body dialed in.”

Jackson’s favorite target Mark Andrews caught two of his touchdown passes on Sunday. The Ravens wisely paired Jackson with Andrews when they selected him in the third round after trading back into the first round to take Jackson. Jackson always tells Andrews his job is easier because of the top-level pass catching tight end.

“The guys is incredible; he was incredible last year. To me, he’s, obviously, the best player in the world, and his arm reflects that. It reflected that last year; it’s this year as well. He’s going to continue to grow, and he has. It’s just a blessing to be able to play with him. He says I make his job easy, but it’s the other way around for sure,” Andrews said.

Andrews isn’t the only teammate who noticed an improvement in Jackson’s game. Jackson connected with Marquise Brown five times for 101 yards on Sunday. Brown also shared a positive review of Jackson’s upgraded game.

“You can tell he’s a lot more comfortable, and he’s a lot more pinpoint with it. It’s now our job to be at the spot, because that’s where he’s putting it. He’s doing a good job of throwing it away from defenders and throwing it to where you can catch and run. So, he’s been doing a good job of just improving his game,” Brown said.

After losing at home in the last two divisional round playoff games, Jackson’s goal is to lead Baltimore to their third Super Bowl title. His improved play could be a reason they make it over the hump.

Ravens Continue Evaluation Process Without Benefit of Preseason

The process of sorting through a group of 90 players and narrowing the list to 53 is always a rigorous undertaking. This season, things are a bit tougher because the preseason games where eliminated. The Baltimore Ravens have a roster full of talent, including 12 pro-bowlers, which ties the 1973 Miami Dolphins for the most selections ever on an initial roster. This is an example of how well the Ravens evaluate talent.

Baltimore will need every bit of their talent for evaluation this year, as they get closer to roster cut down day.

“I think [executive vice president and general manager] Eric DeCosta and his staff are always in constant communication with the coaching staff, and they are always ‘gazing into their crystal ball,’ trying to stay ahead of the curve with things. They do a great job of that. So, I definitely think these are things that are discussed very openly and constantly,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “It’s our job to make the most of everything we can.”

Roman said the scrimmage the team had recently was like the first preseason game. It gave the players a chance to have a more live atmosphere that would be more similar to game day. That’s critical for the front office as they sort through what players they think will help contribute to a winning season.

Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale was pleased with the play of 2020 third-round pick Malik Harrison during the scrimmage.

“I think in the scrimmage the other night, he [Harrison] really started coming downhill and started showing some of his physicality. That just comes from getting more and more groomed in the system and understanding his responsibilities, and then just playing football. He’s going to be a force to deal with. He’s got length, he’s got power and he can play physical. So, he’s started to show that. I thought he really flashed that on Saturday,” Martindale said. their football careers. Martindale said it’s a unique experience for everyone. “Obviously, it’s different. There are guys who’ve made this team, undrafted free agents who’ve made this team off the fourth preseason game. Right there at the end, it was neck and neck with somebody else,” Martindale said.

There are starting jobs on the line. There are roster spots on the line also. Some players are literally playing for Martindale complimented how head coach John Harbaugh made the scrimmage as close to a game situation as possible. In his opinion, that helped everyone since they did special teams, offense and defense situations. But the evaluation process is going to be taxing due to other unprecedented variables.

“It’s going to be difficult; the cuts always are. I think it’s different this year, because you have a larger practice squad,” Martindale said. “You’ve really got to have guys with this virus that’s here, be ready to play, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

There is a degree of mystery since the Ravens weren’t able to play against another team in an actual game. The players are ready to see someone with a different color uniform on. The monotony can make days drag but Harbaugh feels good about where the team is.

“Without the preseason games and any kind of ‘measuring stick,’ I think the coaches would tell you— and I think the players would tell you the same way— we feel really good about where we’re at. We feel we’re as far along— from a football standpoint— that we could be,” Harbaugh said.

Ravens DeShon Elliott next man up after Earl Thomas release

The Baltimore Ravens signed veteran safety Earl Thomas last season to replace Eric Weddle who retired. But “the Earl Thomas experience” ended prematurely when Thomas was released on Sunday, August 23, 2020.

Thomas’ time with the Ravens came to a screeching halt after he punched fellow safety Chuck Carr during practice last Saturday. That transgression wasn’t the only contributing factor to Thomas’ release according to multiple reports.

Thomas was reportedly late for meetings and was not the most liked player in the locker room. A veteran’s committee met with head coach John Harbaugh and determined the Ravens would be better off without Thomas.

The Ravens are moving forward with their mission to win the third Super Bowl title in franchise history with the group of young safeties that are left.

The next man up in place of Thomas is third-year safety DeShon Elliott. John Harbaugh spoke about Elliott having an impact after being inserted into the starting lineup.

“I expect him to” Harbaugh said when asked about Elliott being a contributor. “He’s been practicing really well and worked hard through the offseason. It’s his time so here we go.”

Elliott was a standout at Texas and wasn’t used to being a backup to anyone. The Ravens selected Elliott in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Climbing the depth chart was an uphill battle for Elliott since he was behind Tony Jefferson and Weddle. Elliott had to learn patience since he has been in the NFL. Despite being a backup, Elliott prepared like he was a starter.

A fractured forearm ended Elliott’s rookie season before training camp was over. He was poised for a prominent role in Baltimore’s secondary last season but bad luck struck again when a knee injury landed him on injured reserve in October.

Elliott is gearing up for what he hopes will be his first full 16-game season of his young career.

“I think I got myself together physically, spiritually and mentally. I feel that God’s going to bless me with the things that I need to stay healthy this year,” Elliott said. “I will do the best that I can to stay healthy for my teammates and play for them. I love this team and I love this defense.”

Through the injuries and being stuck behind veterans on the depth chart, Elliott learned to be patient.The patient approach has paid off because now Elliott finds himself in line to be a starter at one of the Ravens safety spots as long as he stays healthy. He is pumped up about finally getting the opportunity to be a consistent contributor.

“I’m excited. Whether they pay me or not I would play this game. My health has been the only question I’ve had from everybody. I’ll do what I have to do to be productive for this team. Every day, I’m going to work my butt off. I’m trying to be here to win with my ‘homies,’ my brothers,” Elliott said.

Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey trained with family during offseason

An unexpectedly loss in the divisional round of the playoffs last season abrupt- ly ended what could have been a great year the Baltimore Ravens. They fin- ished with a 14-2 record— the best in the NFL.

The sudden end left a bitter taste in cor- nerback Marlon Humphrey’s mouth. Humphrey hit the offseason with a vengeance in hopes of making it to the ultimate goal, winning the Super Bowl.

The Covid-19 pandemic kept the Ravens from having Organized Team Activities and minicamp. So the task of getting ready for the season fell on the players. Humphries has athletic blood- lines. His father Bobby was a running back for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins while his sister Brittany is a sprinter for LSU. Marlon took advantage of his family situation during personal offseason workouts.

“It was really fun. I was back with all five of my brothers and sisters. We did a lot of family workouts, jungle gym, a lot of pushups, pull-ups. I tried to get as much different work as I could. My sis- ter runs track at LSU so I got on the track and did some track workouts. I did a little bit of everything and tried to do anything that could get me at my highest heart rate going,” Marlon said.

One thing that pushed Marlon to the limit was a rock pile found at Wade Sand and Gravel in Birmingham, Alabama. He said he ran on rock piles with his brothers, one of whom he joked wasn’t able to workout the next day.

“The offseason was a lot different. You had to get pretty creative,” Marlon added. Marlon’s fire was fueled even more by

an experience he had when he went to the Super Bowl to take part in a pregame activity.

“This past year, I got to go to the Super Bowl and do something on the field before the game,” Marlon said. “Walking around, watching the other teams warm up. The energy I felt down there in Miami kind of triggered my whole offseason into thinking the only thing I really want is a Super Bowl. That’s the mindset we are taking everyday in practice.”

Last season, Marlon said his goal was to be in “Bowls” referring to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. He was named to the Pro Bowl after turning in a career high three interceptions while taking on the best wide receivers the NFL had to offer. Marlon excelled as a nickel cornerback in addition to his duties on the outside.

It was a big-time season for the third year corner. However, he fell short of one of his Bowl goals. This year, the only goal is to make it to the Super Bowl. That’s exactly what Marlon trained for with his five siblings during the offseason.

Ravens would be good fit for Antonio Brown

From 2011 – 2018, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers had an intense rivalry with star wideout Antonio Brown being one of the key players. The thought of seeing Brown score touch- downs and dance in the end zone made Ravens’ fans sick.

Seeing Brown doing those same dances in the end zone wearing a Ravens jersey on is a pipe dream for quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson got to spend some time with Brown on the football field during the offseason and was thor- oughly impressed.

“I was like, ‘dang, there’s no quitting with him.’ That’s the type of guy we need in our locker room,” Jackson said. “It was nice throwing to Antonio Brown. I was hoping we would get him. I’m still hoping— a little bit.”

The Ravens had internal discussions about adding Brown to their roster according to multiple reports. Getting Brown to Baltimore would require a lot of work but it would offer heavy rewards.

Brown has seen his share of contro- versy throughout his career. The free agent was recently handed an eight- game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL’s persona conduct policy.

It will take a strong group of veterans and a coaching staff that can handle Brown. Head coach John Harbaugh is an experienced coach who has handled an assortment of personalities. The Ravens locker room has plenty of players in place who can handle the addition of Brown.

“I feel like the locker room here is different from any other locker room,”

Jackson said. “There’s a brotherhood going on, there’s none of that outside noise. It’s strictly inside; we worry about each other, we worry about what we have going on, we want to win.”Brown’s cousin Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is also on the roster. They joined Jackson for workouts during the offseason in Miami. An offense featuring both Browns, Mark Andrews, Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson would be hard to stop.

Brown’s stats are proof of what he can accomplish when the situation is right. Six consecutive seasons of 100 or more receptions is a rare accomplishment. Brown was undoubtedly one of the best receivers over that stretch. As Brown said on his Instagram account, Baltimore would get a talented player motivated to make the best of his next opportunities.

“I look forward to new beginnings. I want to be the best version of myself on and off the field, and I will do my best to be a great teammate. I appreciate the NFL giving me the opportunity to con- tinue to work on myself and improve. I am thankful and grateful for this oppor- tunity to play a game that I truly love, and I look forward to joining a new team soon. Thank you to my family and all those that have supported me. I will show the fans my appreciation for this second chance by having the best season of my career.”

Two Ravens players opt out of 2020 season

Two Baltimore Ravens players have opted out of the 2020 NFL season be- cause of concerns due to Covid-19. Pri- mary return man De’Anthony Thomas became the first Ravens player when he opted out on Monday.

The offensive line suffered a hit on Tuesday when offensive tackle Andre Smith also opted out of the 2020 NFL season because of concerns regarding Covid-19. Other players will have until Monday, August 3 to opt out.

The Covid-19 pandemic dramatically altered the NFL landscape starting in the offseason. Teams had to employ virtual meetings instead of the typical organized team activities that take place during a normal offseason. Preseason games were canceled in hopes of giving teams a safer environment before the regular season.

As players began to report to training camp earlier this week, multiple players across the league elected to utilize their freedom to opt out of the season. Vet- eran players that had a credited season last year such as Smith and Thomas along with players that were drafted are eligible to receive a stipend while they opt out. The stipend comes by way of an agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL. Selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Thomas spent six seasons in Kansas City and was released last October. The Ravens signed him in November and Thomas agreed to a one-year $935,000 deal with Baltimore in March.

Smith was the elder statesman in the Ravens offensive line room. Selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the sixth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Smith spent seven seasons with the Ben- gals before second and third stints in Cincinnati separated by stops with the Minnesota Vikings (2016) and Arizona Cardinals (2018).

Last season, Smith started five games for the Bengals. Cincinnati released Smith in November. Baltimore brought Smith aboard in January to provide much needed depth along the offensive line.

The 12-year veteran signed a one-year, $1.07 million extension with the Ravens in February. The extension included $25,000 in guaranteed money. Losing Smith will hurt the Ravens from a depth perspective but Baltimore has an out- standing duo at starting offensive tackle. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. were both selected to the Pro Bowl last season.

Fans not permitted at Ravens training camp

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned just about every facet of life upside down. Like everything else, National Football League (NFL) training camps are not immune to the effects. Fans of the Baltimore Ravens won’t be permitted to attend training camp practices this year.

Closing training camp to fans is a joint decision between the NFL and the National Foofball League Players Association (NFLPA). The league’s mandate supersedes any state decisions that may allow large gatherings.

For many Ravens fans, heading to the Under Armour Performance Center braving the dog days of August to get an up close look at their favorite team was an annual occurrence. Due to the expensive costs for tickets to games, training camp was the only opportunity for the average fan to see the Ravens in person.

The bleachers that surround the practice fields at the Under Armour Performance Center can hold up to 2,000 fans according to the team site. On any given day, those bleachers were full of fans in previous years.

The Ravens are one of the most popular teams in the NFL. The franchise has a unique bond and connection to the community. A lot of the players normally have football camps for the underprivileged youth in the Baltimore area. These camps weren’t able to take place this year because of the pandemic.

The team is aware of how much the fans love the Ravens. But they’re wisely taking a safety first approach. “It is critically important that we protect the well-being of our players,coaches, staff, fans and overall community,” Ravens President Dick Cass explained via the team site. “Health and safety will always be a top priority, and while we are disappointed that fans will not attend training camp, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the public and our organization. We look forward to welcoming back fans in the future when we can safely do so.

” It’s unfortunate that so many fans won’t get that up close look at the Ravens but it’s more important to do everything possible to limit the spread of Covid-19.