11: Ravens HOF weekend recap & a look at the new NFL helmet rules

Welcome to Episode 11 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

This week the podcast is heavily focused on the Ravens as they come off of an eventful weekend. The guys don’t waste any time diving right into Ray Lewis and his Hall Of Fame speech (5:00). After that the conversation switches over the Ravens 17-16 win over the Bears in the HOF game (15:25). Jake, Nolan, and Ian all give their opinion on which players they think are trending up and trending down after the first preseason game.

Before turning their attention to this coming week’s matchup with the Rams, the guys spend some time dissecting the new NFL rules involving helmet hits (34:38). The issue has made headlines everywhere since Thursday and the Charm City Bird Watch crew is eager to give their takes as well.

The Ravens discussion concludes with a look ahead to the second preseason game. The Ravens and Rams will practice together this week in Owings Mills before meeting at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night (42:45)

The podcast concludes with some brief Orioles talk (50:23). The excitement of the trade deadline has passed and now we are left with an even more incomplete team. However, there are a handful of new Orioles that have made their debut in black and orange this past week. The weekly numbers segment is pushed back to the end of this weeks podcast, where you can hear some memories of former players like Robert Andino and Kamar Aiken (55:50).

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Please leave us a review, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

Advertisements

Three things to watch for as the Baltimore Ravens preseason begins

The Baltimore Ravens will head to Canton Ohio to kick off their 2018 preseason schedule against the Chicago Bears in the NFL Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night.

It will mark the first time the Ravens take the field since their heartbreaking 31-27 season-ending defeat against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on December 31, 2017. That loss landed Baltimore out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

With most of the starters not expected to play on Thursday, here are three things I am watching for as the Ravens start their 2018 campaign.

1. Lamar Jackson

The buzz around Baltimore has been significant surrounding Lamar Jackson ever since the Ravens traded back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select the 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback out of Louisville 32nd overall.

Jackson’s accolades and statistics in the collegiate ranks are unprecedented. To go along with his Heisman Trophy, Jackson was the 2016 and 2017 ACC Player of the Year. He was also a unanimous first team All-American in 2016. In Jackson’s final two years at Louisville he amassed 10,375 total yards and 96 total TD’S.

So what does all of this mean at the next level? Absolutely nothing. The learning curve for Jackson begins for real this Thursday night and I cannot wait to see how the “future” of the quarterback position in Baltimore looks in his first test as an NFL quarterback. It will be interesting to see who starts the game, but it is expected that both Jackson and Robert Griffin III will receive significant playing time.

Jackson channeled his inner Bart Scott when asked about his debut:

2. Wide receiver corps

While nothing has been announced as of yet, it is unlikely that the Ravens new look receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown will see much action in Thursday’s opener.

That means the spotlight will be on Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman, and rookies Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley as they look to establish themselves as contributing members of what has recently been a very disappointing position group of late for the Ravens.

Moore has the inside track to be the number four receiver and is looking to improve upon his numbers from last season (18 catches 248 yards and 3 touchdowns). Moore is entering his third season in Baltimore out of the University of Cincinnati and Thursday could prove a key moment for him as he looks to gain a stranglehold on that fourth receiver spot.

breshad-perriman-82416-usnews-ftr_vrux0238gbrp1qxszgef3jb4y

Breshad Perriman is fighting for a roster spot. Image Credit: Sporting News

The much maligned Perriman is entering his fourth season with the Ravens. The first- round draft pick in 2015 missed his entire rookie season with injuries and has struggled in his two seasons since, tallying just 43 catches and three touchdowns. After the Ravens picked up his roster bonus, he is now battling to make the week one roster. This could be Perriman’s last chance is Baltimore and a good showing on Thursday night could relieve some of the pressure he is sure to be feeling.

Scott and Lasley appear poised for significant reps at receiver in the preseason opener as well. Scott, a fourth-round pick out of New Mexico State has struggled out of the gate at training camp. Lasley was drafted in the fifth round out of UCLA and has been the more impressive of the two in training camp so far. Look for both to be featured prominently in the Ravens offense on Thursday night.

3. New Defensive Coordinator

While the 2017 Baltimore Ravens defense finished sixth in the NFL in points-per-game allowed (18.9), many Ravens fans, myself included, were excited when Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees retired one day after the 2017 season ended.

Often times Pees would sink into a “prevent” style defense when the team had the lead late in games.  This was a contributing factor in the Ravens inability to hold on to a 38-29 lead in the fourth quarter of what became an AFC North division clinching loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Enter Don “Wink” Martindale who was promoted to Defensive Coordinator this off-season. Martindale struggled in his only prior stint as an NFL defensive coordinator when he guided the Denver Broncos to a last place finish in total defense.  That hasn’t stopped many Ravens including Tony Jefferson from raving about him this offseason:

While it is just the first preseason game, the excitement around town is noticeable. Amid the Orioles fire sale, the Ravens will look to provide a welcomed distraction for Charm City as they get their 2018 campaign underway on Thursday night.

Image Credit: Associated Press

Ravens to play Bears in 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Game

On Tuesday morning, the NFL announced that the Baltimore Ravens will participate in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 2 from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium from Canton, Ohio.

The Ravens will play against the Chicago Bears, two days before legendary linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Every year, the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the NFL’s preseason slate. This marks the Ravens’ first appearance in the Hall of Fame Game. The Bears have made four appearances, the most recent being in 2005 against the Miami Dolphins.

Along with competing in the Hall of Fame Game, the Ravens and Bears will still play four normally-scheduled preseason season games along with the rest of the NFL. With that said, should we see any starters play in this game, it won’t be for long.

Ticket packages for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement week are already on sale at hofexperiences.com, or by calling 844-751-0532. Individual tickets for the Hall of Fame Game and Enshrinement Ceremony go on sale on Friday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. ET at profootballhof.com/tickets.

Image Credit: Dawgs by Nature

Podcast: Baltimore Ravens Staff Writer Ryan Mink

Welcome to the latest edition of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast! On Today’s episode, Baltimore Ravens staff writer Ryan Mink joins Jake McDonnell to talk about the Ravens.

Following Baltimore’s 23-3 preseason-opening win against the Redskins, what impressed Mink? Are key offensive players like Joe Flacco and Breshad Perriman close to returning to practice?

One of the biggest question marks surrounding the Ravens is the offensive line. With James Hurst in line for a starting job, hear Mink passionately defend Hurst, who has been heavily scrutinized during his time with the Ravens. Mink also gives his take on if the Ravens will make another move on the offensive line before the regular season.

On Thursday, the Ravens face the Miami Dolphins in their second preseason game. Mink will be there, and tells us what to expect on Thursday.

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on either Soundcloud or iTunes. Rate us 5 stars on iTunes and leave us a review. Thanks for listening!

Preview: Redskins head up the beltway to face Ravens in preseason opener

BALTIMORE — Training camp began two weeks ago for all NFL teams. After two weeks of practice, study, and retention, its time to show off in a game situation. On Thursday, the Baltimore Ravens open up the 2017 preseason against the Washington Redskins. We may not see a lot of the stars we usually vitness on Sundays, but the game gives us an idea of where the team stands in early August.

Details: 

Where: M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland

When: Thursday, Aug. 10, 7:30 pm

Tune in: Ravens fans can catch the game on WBAL-TV, 1090 WBAL (AM), and 98 Rock (FM). Gameday audio will also stream live on the Baltimore Ravens website.

Banged-Up Birds: It’s no secret that the Ravens endured a rough start to the preseason. Since June 1, Baltimore lost seven players for the season, due to either injury (Tavon Young, Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Kenneth Dixon, Nico Siragusa), retirement (John Urschel), or suspension (Darren Waller). Simultaneously, the Ravens discover themselves dealing with several other injuries that may not end seasons, but still concern us. Joe Flacco (back), Maurice Canady (knee), Breshad Perriman (hamstring), Marlon Humphrey (unknown), and Alex Lewis (unknown) currently stand on the sidelines for various reasons. Flacco injured his back while lifting and has yet to participate in a training camp practice. Canady underwent a knee procedure last week. He will miss a big chunk of, if not all of the 2017 season. Perriman pulled his hamstring last week. No sign of him since. Lewis and Humphrey missed the last couple practices.

Kaepernick talk dying down: Another distraction Baltimore dealt with recently revolves around free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. When Flacco’s injury was announced, Harbaugh spoke positively about his relationship with Kaepernick (John’s brother, Jim, and Ravens Senior Offensive Assistant Greg Roman coached Kaepernick in San Francisco with the 49ers). Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti got pressed about Kaepernick, too. The national media made a huge deal about why the Ravens should bring Kaepernick in, but the fact is, according to Harbaugh, Flacco will not miss any time in the regular season.

Two weeks passed since Flacco’s injury became public. Mixed reports say that Flacco could sit out anywhere between two and six weeks. Because no timetable for Flacco came out yet, the Kaepernick talk fades by the day. The girlfriend of Kaepernick made some harsh comments about Biscotti, so that cannot help the quarterback’s quest for a new NFL home.

Quarterback situation: In Flacco’s absence, Ryan Mallett runs with the starters. In a normal preseason game one scenario, Flacco would play one series, if any. Because no one knows Flacco’s return timetable, Mallett may only stay in for a series or two. It seems unwise to keep Mallett in any longer than a quarter on Thursday.

Since we won’t see a lot of Mallett in this game, I hope everyone’s ready for a lot of Dustin Vaugahn and Josh Woodrum. Both of these guys went undrafted and own more than one year of experience. Unless Flacco’s back injury lingers into the season, neither Vaugahn or Woodrum will make the team.

The coaching staff likely wants plenty of film on these two incase they need to carry one on the roster. If you do not know these names, you will by the end of the game.

Undrafted receivers impressing: Every season brings a new wave of undrafted rookies trying to make the team. So far in camp, a lot of beat writers rave about two players who did not hear their name called on draft day – Quincy Adeboyejo from Mississippi and Tim White from Arizona State.

Both of these guys can take the top off a defense. White, although not over six feet tall, comes to the Ravens as a former track and field star at Arizona State. Last year, he competed in the Olympic Track and Field Trials. He came up just shy of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

Reporters, like Ryan Mink of the Ravens, call White “a human highlight reel” early on in camp. Videos emerged of White doing a backflip after catching a touchdown at Saturday’s practice any Navy. White’s probably one of the most athletic players on the roster.

Adeboyejo shares another interesting story. He claims that 15 NFL teams recruited him, but he chose the Ravens because of his relationship with receivers coach Bobby Engram. Turns out, Engram previously coached Adeboyejo at the East-West Shrine Game. That relationship seems to pay dividends for Adeboyejo right now.

Keep in mind that we hear stories like this every year about undrafted players. What they’ve accomplished so far in camp should not go unnoticed, but for them to make the team, they need to flash in the games. Too many undrafted players shine early in camp and disappear once the preseason games start. Thursday will indicate whether or not White and Adeboyejo can actually play in the NFL.

Young players on defense: Patrick Ricard, undrafted rookie defensive end from Maine, also deserves some recognition for his efforts. At 6’3″, 300 pounds, Ricard looks the part. Both Head Coach John Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees muttered his name at press conferences, displaying their enthusiasm for the young defender.

Ricard will need a great camp to make the team. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun noted that 2015 third round pick Carl Davis and 2016 fourth round pick Willie Henry are having solid camps too. 2016 third round pick Bronson Kaufusi and 2017 third round pick Chris Wormley also find themselves in the mix for defensive end spots. In the first depth chart released for the 2017 season, the Ravens listed Brent Urban in the starting defensive end position. Both starting defensive ends from 2016, Lawrence Guy and Timmy Jernigan, departed in the offseason. There’s a lot of depth at that position to fill those shoes.

Linebacker, both inside and in the pass rush, includes a lot of youth. Outside of Terrell Suggs, no pass rusher on the roster owns more than two years of experience. Rookies Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser look the part, and will push Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith in games.

The defense, in need of someone to replace Zachary Orr next to C.J. Mosley, will look to 2016 second rounder Kamalei Correa to do that. Correa fought through a rough transition to the NFL, but says that this camp slowed down compared to last year. Look for all of the young rushers and Correa to get a lot of time on Thursday.

What to make of the return game: Last season, the Ravens suffered in the return game because Devin Hester looked washed up. Since Jacoby Jones left following the 2014 season, the Ravens continue to search for a dynamic returner.

The first depth chart of 2017 lists Chris Moore as the starting kick returner, and Michael Campanero the top punt returner. Campanero follows Moore on kicks, and Lardarius Webb locks in at second on the punt return chart. Keenan Reynolds appears third on the list for both points and kicks.

The Ravens know what Webb can do on special teams, and he may not even play on Thursday. Given Campanero’s injury history, the coaching staff may hold him out too. Moore and Reynolds need a lot of reps at returner this preseason. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg, also the assistant head coach, does not want Harbaugh up in arms about the return game again.

According to reports, Tim White took reps at returner too. With his speed and athleticism, he could evolve into the dynamic returner the Ravens need. Moore and Reynolds will likely see a lot of reps at returner in the first preseason game, but White should come into the picture once he gets more practice reps.

Notes on the Redskins: 

  • Over the offseason, quarterback Kirk Cousins became the first player ever to play under the executive franchise tag two years in a row. At the end of this season, the Redskins paid over $43 million to Cousins in two years.
  • 2016 first round receiver Josh Doctson, who missed his rookie year with an achilles injury, tweaked his hamstring over the weekend. He will probably not play in this game.
  • The Redskins lost both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency, but the team upgraded by signing Terrell Pryor to a one-year contract. Jamison Crowder showed great improvement in 2016 with 97 receptions, 847 yards, and seven touchdowns. With Pryor as the clear #1, if Crowder builds off last season and Doctson stays healthy, this receiving unit will do great things.
  • Statistically, the Redskins ranked 28th in total defense last season and 24th in rushing. Washington addressed that in the offseason. They signed defensive end Stacy McGee and defensive tackle Terrell McClain. They used their first round draft pick on Alabama DT Jonathan Allen. Like the Ravens, Washington used a lot of their early picks on defense, displaying their desire to improve this season.

Image Credit: Redskins Wire

Ravens 2017 Preseason Schedule Announced

OWINGS MILLS, MD — The Ravens’ 2017 preseason schedule has been announced. From the graphic above, the four-game schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, Aug. 10 – Home vs. Washington Redskins
  • Friday, Aug. 18 / Saturday, Aug. 19 – Away vs. Miami Dolphins
  • Friday, Aug. 25 / Saturday, Aug. 26 – Home vs. Buffalo Bills
  • Thursday, Aug. 31 – Away vs. New Orleans Saints

Notes:

  • With the Under Armor Performance Center undergoing renovations, Ravens fans will not be able to attend training camp this year. That means that the Aug. 10 game against the Redskins will be the first chance for Ravens fans to see the team in person.
  • The Ravens do not typically face AFC teams in the preseason, but they will twice this summer.
  • For the eighth straight year, the Ravens will play their third preseason game at home, this year against the Bills.
  • For the third time in four years, the Ravens will wrap up the preseason down in New Orleans with a bubble player-filled duo with the Saints.