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Ravens report card for Browns game: Defense, special teams

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Ravens report card for Browns game: Defense, special teams

It's time to grade the Ravens after their overtime loss against the Browns. We've already evaluated the offense, now it's time for the defense and special teams...

DEFENSIVE LINE: B-

The Ravens held the Browns to 9 rushing yards in the first half and 83 overall on 25 carries (3.3 avg.). What little pressure the Ravens got on Josh McCown generally came from this group. All four sacks of McCown came from defensive linemen -- two by Lawrence Guy and one each from Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams. Guy finished with six tackles, three for loss. Guy, though, had a roughing the passer penalty that negated an interception.

LINEBACKERS: F

The blame reaches just about everyone in this group. There was no pressure on the quarterback, coverage was terrible, and linebackers were responsible for several of the "inexcusable" penalties that infuriated coach John Harbaugh. The middle of the field was left wide open too often. Linebackers couldn't stay with Duke Johnson out of the backfield. Daryl Smith whiffed on a tackle that turned into a 22-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Isaiah Crowell. A third-down, hands-to-the-face penalty on Jason Babin gave the Browns a first down and they scored two plays later. Babin and Za'Darius Smith both got called for being offside on another Browns touchdown drive. Just burn the tape.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: D

Injuries played a role in this group's struggles; under no circumstances did the Ravens envision Tray Walker on the field in crunch time this season, but when three corners go down and another (Rashaan Melvin) is inactive, that's what happens. Lardarius Webb was decent before leaving with an injury, but there were still way too many problems. Taylor Gabriel got behind Kyle Arrington for a 56-yard bomb, with Will Hill providing no safety help. Tight end Gary Barnidge was left open way too often, to the tune of eight catches for 139 yards. Kendrick Lewis had some nice plays in run support, but too often safety blitzes were picked up and then the secondary left exposed. Terrence Brooks, pressed into work as the nickel back, had five tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

The Ravens got a nice spark from practice squad call-up Jeremy Ross, who had a 17-yard punt return and a 46-yard kickoff return. Sam Koch did a fantastic job thwarting dangerous return man Travis Benjamin, using the sideline as a 12th tackler. The one decent return Benjamin got featured a great open-field tackle by Brynden Trawick. Surprisingly, Justin Tucker had one of the few blemishes, missing on a 51-yard field-goal try after his plant foot slipped slightly.

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

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USA TODAY Sports

As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

With 10 days until the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to visit the Ravens this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner is a projected first-round pick as he has proven to have success in the air and on the ground. 

While at Louisville, Jackson had 9,043 passing yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NFL draft profile compares him to Michael Vick. 

RELATED: BEST QUOTES FROM RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

The Ravens are in search of Joe Flacco's successor, but spending a first-round pick on a quarterback when there are other glaring needs is up in the air. However, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of drafting a quarterback in the first-round.

At their pre-draft press conference, GM Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta kept reiterating we could be surprised by who they pick at No. 16, if they do at all. 

While Jackson's numbers are impressive, he continues to be considered a late first-round pick as his build isn't up to typical NFL QB standards and scouts are concerned with his accuracy. What he does have in his favor is speed.

While fans are hoping for an offensive weapon, having Jackson learn under Flacco for a year (and maybe RGIII?) could rev up some excitement. 

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER

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Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Robert Griffin III went from Heisman Trophy winner, to second-overall pick, to Offensive Rookie of the Year, to unemployed, to backup quarterback all in the matter of six years.

That's a rollercoaster of a career for a 28-year old, but RGIII is fully embracing the opportunity the Ravens have presented him with.

“I feel like I knew coming into this situation that this is Joe’s [Flacco] team," Griffin said at a press conference Wednesday.

"I understood that when I came in to work out; I understood that when I signed. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn from him. Whatever capacity the coaches ask me to help, that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to compete, and I’m here to get better every single day – work hard. I think they saw that from me in the workout and in our general conversations together. I think they realize I’m ready for the opportunity and I’m ready for this role – whatever that role may be.”

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER

Finding a backup quarterback that you can put some faith in during a time of desperation in today's league is a hard find, with the exception of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

While Griffin hasn't played since January of 2017, he offers legitimate experience that isn't being offered by typical backups. 

 "I feel like I’ve been able to get a better grasp of how to play the game in the NFL, what coaches are looking for. I think that’s a benefit, whereas in 2012 when I came in, it was more so learning everything on the fly and just going out and playing. Now I feel like I have to ability to go out and play and also know what I’m doing, be able to protect myself better, get the ball to the guys that need to get the ball and help a team win – in whatever way that is.”

The Ravens signed RGIII on a one-year contract worth $1 million - we're assuming- with hopes he'll never see the field during the regular season. Griffin made it clear he understands that role, but is looking forward to learning how to lead a team under a ten-year veteran. 

RELATED: RAVENS 2018 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

“Most of my interactions with Joe have been at midfield. I really do look forward to getting in the quarterback room with him. It’s a great opportunity for me. I still feel like I’m a young player. I’m 28, but I feel like I’m 25. He’s been through a lot of things in his career, been to the pinnacle and won a Super Bowl – Super Bowl MVP. I think that’s a great opportunity for me to learn and learn from him, and to just see the way that he attacks the game of football, the way he attacks the meeting room, practice, interacting with teammates – all those types of things – the way he leads." 

The RGIII saga in Baltimore is an open book right now, one that could come with an interesting ending.