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Bubble watch: Defense


Bubble watch: Defense

We previouslylooked at the offense to see who's in, who's out and who is on the bubble asthe Ravens prepare to trim their roster from 75 to the final 53-player limit byFriday.Our projectionincluded 24 offensive players, which would leave 29 spots for the defense andspecialists.
The final few spots will likely be decided on Thursday night, when the Ravens conclude the preseason at St. Louis.
"Were going to try to win the game, but were going to try to get as many reps as we can for the guys that were trying to determine their future," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after practice Monday. "These guys work too hard out here to not give them every opportunity out there in a game situation to prove what they can do. This is their dream. There are a lot of guys that have an opportunity right now that are on the bubble to make this team."Beginning Sept. 1, teams can sign players to their eight-man practice squads, so some whose bubble burst on Friday could end up on the practice squad the next day.
Here's how we seethose final roster spots shaking out:DEFENSIVE LINE(7 make the team):Locks (5): TerenceCody, Arthur Jones, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Haloti Ngata, Pernell McPhee.On the bubble:Bryan Hall, DeAngelo Tyson, Nicolas Jean-BaptisteThere is a lot ofdiscussion of whether Cody or Kemoeatu wins the starting job at nose tackle,but all five locks will play extensively. Hall, a practice squad member a yearago, and Tyson, the Ravens' seventh-round draft pick, benefit from the season-endinginjury to Ryan McBean, who was placed on injured reserve with broken ankle. Theguess here is that both make the team, helping interior depth, butJean-Baptiste does not.LINEBACKER (9):Locks (7):Brendon Ayanbadejo, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain,Albert McClellan, Courtney UpshawOn the bubble:Ricky Brown, Nigel Carr, Sergio Kindle, Chavis WilliamsWe assume the Ravens keep nine linebackers, leaving a couple of these bubble players out ofluck. Coach John Harbaugh said this week that Kindle is "not a lock"to make the team, but he will sneak in. There is still too much potential in theoft-injured linebacker for the Ravens to give up on him yet. Williams can help onspecial teams and earns the ninth and final linebacker spot over Carr, who hasa team-high 12 tackles this preseason.DEFENSIVE BACKS(10):Locks (7): SeanConsidine, Corey Graham, Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed, Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb,Cary Williams On the bubble:Chykie Brown, Omar Brown, Danny Gorrer, Asa Jackson, Christian ThompsonThis is thedeepest unit of the team, and also represents the heart of special teams play. The season-ending injury to safety Emanuel Cook (broken leg) opens up a spot, andConsidine's concussions -- two thus far in training camp -- strengthens thecase for Thompson, a safety and the Ravens' fourth-round draft pick. Jackson, a fifth-roundpick, has shown promise in the secondary and on returns. This would leave onespot for Chykie Brown, "Mr. Turnover" Omar Brown and Gorrer. For now,we'll go with Gorrer, but don't write that in stone. By releasing BillyCundiff, the Ravens saved about 2 million in cap space, money that can be usedto sign a veteran safety who will hit the waiver wire this week.
SPECIALISTS (3)Locks: MorganCox, Sam Koch, Justin Tucker.On the bubble:NoneThe only bubble in this group burst when Billy Cundiff was released this week, and the jobs for Cox, the long snapper, and Koch were never in doubt.

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."


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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.