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5 observations from Monday's OTA workout

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5 observations from Monday's OTA workout

The Ravens wrap up their final week of voluntary OTAs this week, with the session on Monday being the last one open to the media. The team will be back on the field three more days this week, and then will hold a mandatory minicamp June 16-18.

A lot will still happen between now and Week 1 in September, but here are five impressions from Monday's workout:

* Crockett Gillmore shows off his hands

On back-to-back plays in a red zone drill, the tight end went over the top of linebacker Arthur Brown to haul in touchdown catches. He made several other good grabs as well. Gillmore had 10 catches for 121 yards and one touchdown in the regular season as a rookie last year, but with Dennis Pitta sidelined and Owen Daniels gone, Gillmore should be much bigger part of the offense this season.

* Matt Elam is on the rebound

Elam, whose 2014 season was a major disappointment, has been getting a lot of reps with the starters at safety. He, Will Hill and Kendrick Lewis all are in the mix, and after practice, defensive coordinator Dean Pees praised Elam as having his "best camp ... bar none, not even close." One of Elam's biggest issues last season was tackling, and it's hard to see whether that has improved until contact is allowed. Still, the Ravens would greatly benefit from an improved Elam.

* Breshad Perriman is living up to billing

Perriman made a leaping touchdown catch in traffic yesterday, and his combination of size (6-foot-2) and speed is impressive. Drops have been an issue for Perriman in the past, but you wouldn't know it from watching OTA drills. Thus far, Perriman has caught pretty much all the balls he should catch. He's also made some nice adjustments on less-than-perfect throws to haul in catches.

* Who is the No. 3 corner?

Jimmy Smith took part in just some light individual work on Monday, and Lardarius Webb skipped the voluntary OTA session. That left Asa Jackson, Kyle Arrington and Rashaan Melvin all getting a lot of work in the prototypical corner spot, matched up 1-on-1 outside against a receiver. But both Jackson and Arrington are better suited to play inside as a slot/nickel corner. If either Webb or Smith goes down this season, who takes over on the outside?

* Matt Schaub still finds the wrong team too often

The Ravens like having a proven NFL quarterback behind Joe Flacco, but Schaub can't seem to avoid the interception. Za'Darius Smith had what would have been a pick-six against Schaub in an earlier OTA, and on Monday, reserve cornerback Quinton Pointer grabbed a tipped pass and could have scored on the return as well. Schaub might have the NFL experience, but there is a big dropoff from Joe Flacco to him.

MORE RAVENS: TRESTMAN IS UP FOR THE CHALLENGE

 

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There are plenty of interesting reunions in store for the Ravens this season

There are plenty of interesting reunions in store for the Ravens this season

With short contracts and shorter shelf lives, NFL players find themselves jumping between franchise quite often over the course of an average career. As a result, almost every matchup between teams any given Sunday could be construed as a reunion between player and organization.

The Ravens are no exception. If anything, 2019 sets up to have more compelling meetings than usual. Let’s highlight some of the most intriguing.

Week 2 vs. Arizona Cardinals, LB Terrell Suggs

It won’t take long for the Ravens to see a familiar (if no longer friendly) face on the opposing sideline.

“Sizzle” is one of the most beloved Ravens in franchise history, and is on the short list of most impactful players in Baltimore football history. He spent his entire career in Baltimore after being drafted in 2003, but now will finish back home in Arizona. 

Fans will have just one week to get used to seeing Suggs in red before having to face him on the field.

Week 7 at Seattle Seahawks, FS Earl Thomas

This one is the reverse of the rest of the list, but still should be mentioned. Thomas is an iconic athlete in Seattle sports history, and led them to a Super Bowl victory as the main figure among the Legion of Boom.

His return to Seattle will be the biggest talking point in the NFL that week, and it’s not something the Ravens will be able to ignore. You can be sure they’ll want to win one for their new defensive leader.

Week 12 at Los Angeles Rams, FS Eric Weddle

Speaking of free safeties, the man Thomas replaces in Baltimore found himself a new home out west. Weddle returns to the West Coast after spending three seasons in Baltimore, where he carved out a role as a prominent leader in the secondary and one of the most respected veteran voices in the locker room.

Weddle is credited with much of the Ravens’ defensive success in recent year, and while they did a nice job replacing him with Thomas, it will still be strange seeing him wear something other than purple.

Week 14 at Buffalo Bills, WR John Brown

Brown only played one season in Baltimore, but he fit in well with the team and was a nice deep threat on the field. He looked to be having a career year receiving passes from Joe Flacco, but once the offense switched to a run-heavy approach behind Lamar Jackson, Brown saw his usage drop off a cliff.

Week 15 vs. New York Jets, LB C.J. Mosley 

Mosley, was the best homegrown linebacker in Baltimore since Ray Lewis hung up his cleats. He wasn’t as fiery as #52 was, but his smarts and leadership were above question during his time with the Ravens. Alongside Weddle, Mosley was the on-field key to the team’s historic defense in 2018, and his loss will be felt in a major way.

It’s hard to blame the Ravens for passing on the contract he ultimately received from the Jets, but it will still be bittersweet to see him wearing green and not purple, especially if the Ravens fail to address inside linebacker in the draft.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

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Four games to watch in 2019 for the Baltimore Ravens

Four games to watch in 2019 for the Baltimore Ravens

For a day with very little impact on how the upcoming NFL season will play out, schedule release day generates a lot of interest in fan bases across the NFL.

It makes sense. Football runs the world, and fans are desperate for any information they can get. By mid-April, we’re all tired of hearing rumors about the top prospects to be selected in next week’s draft, and the schedule announcement allows us to imagine the possibilities coming in the fall. Every fan today projects their team to go somewhere between 9-7 and 11-5.

We’re certainly not immune to the excitement that comes with the schedule announcement, even if we already knew the matchups. Let’s take a look at four games to watch in 2019 for the Baltimore Ravens.

Week 4 at home vs. Cleveland Browns, September 29, 1:00 p.m.

The Ravens won’t have to wait long to get a chance to see the new-look Browns up close. Cleveland will come to Baltimore at the end of September, in the middle of a brutal three-game stretch for the Ravens. As the lone home game sandwiched between road trips to Arrowhead Stadium and Heinz Field, this will be a crucial matchup.

The Week 17 game last season was an epic clash between rookie quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, and the two looked poised to battle it out for AFC North supremacy in the next decade.

Cleveland looks even better after a busy offseason capped by the acquisition of Odell Beckham, Jr. to pair with Jarvis Landry in the receiving core. Freddie Kitchens certainly has plenty of toys to play with in his offense and will provide a compelling matchup against the historically strong Ravens defense.

Whenever the Ravens got their first look against the suddenly-favored Browns, it was going to be a big deal. Coming in the first month of the season makes it all the more exciting.

Week 9 at home vs. New England Patriots, November 3, 8:20 p.m. (Sunday Night Football)

M&T Bank Stadium is going to be *rocking* for this one.

Not that anyone in Baltimore needs extra incentive to get up for a matchup with the hated Patriots, but this game has a few factors going for it. 

The Ravens will be coming off a bye week, so fans will be ready to see some football again. They also have a somewhat manageable start to the season, meaning both teams should have decent records heading into this clash.

It also helps that this is the lone Sunday Night Football matchup scheduled for the Ravens in 2019. And, of course, the Patriots are yet again the defending Super Bowl champions.

This is the first time since 2013 the Ravens will get to host the most dominant team of this era, and it comes in prime time. It’s safe to say every football fan in Baltimore has this one circled on the calendar.

Week 12 on road at Los Angeles Rams November 25, 8:15 p.m. (Monday Night Football)

The other three selections on this list were obvious. The fourth could have gone to either the Chiefs in Week 3 or the Rams in Week 12. The Rams have a bit of an advantage, not only because they are coming off a Super Bowl appearance, but also because the Ravens already played the Chiefs late last season.

It also doesn’t hurt that the Rams game comes in prime time, as the Ravens’ only Monday Night Football matchup of the season. 

What really swayed it to the Rams is the reunion with Eric Weddle. The safety provided great leadership both on and off the field in Baltimore, and though he will ultimately be remembered as a Charger, his impact in Baltimore was profound.

Now he’s patrolling the middle of the field in Los Angeles, and the Ravens will have to match wits with their former “coach on the field” safety. 

Week 17 at home vs. Pittsburgh Steelers December 29, 1:00 p.m.

Come on, you didn’t think we were going to leave out the Ravens hosting the Steelers, did you?

For the first time in a while, neither matchup between these AFC North rivals is scheduled for prime time. It seems like an annual meeting on Sunday Night Football is a requirement for these two.

But while it’s not scheduled currently, no one would be surprised to see a close division race leading to NBC flexing this game into the final slot of the NFL’s regular season.

Even if it doesn’t happen, it’s nice to see the Ravens see their biggest rivals in the final game of the season, rather than the Bengals and Browns as has happen so often recently.

Antonio Brown may be out in Pittsburgh, but as long as Ben Roethlisberger is in town, this will make for a tough matchup, and Ravens fans will get to look forward to a 16-week build up before this slobber-knocker.

To see the Ravens' full 2019 schedule, click here.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set!  See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

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