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Makeshift O-line pushes around Ravens


Makeshift O-line pushes around Ravens

The pass rush that generated six sacks a week ago went on hiatus vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Third-string quarterback Charlie Batch was sacked twice, though one by Paul Kruger was a coverage sack because Batch had plenty of time but nowhere to go with the ball.

In his 15th season and filling in for Byron Leftwich (ribs), who’d replaced Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder/ribs), Batch punished the Ravens because they weren't able to rattle him the way they did Philip Rivers in a 16-13 win last week at the San Diego Chargers.

Batch completed 25 of 36 passes for 276 yards, his best game since 2001 when he played for the Detroit Lions.  

Batch was able to extend plays with his legs until receivers came open, and the Steelers used a plethora of screen passes to take advantage of an aggressive front that found little success after showing signs of getting better.

In a 13-10 win in Pittsburgh two weeks ago, Baltimore sacked Leftwich three times and only allowed him to complete half of his 38 pass attempts and a 51.1 rating. When pressure was needed in the fourth quarter as Leftwich tried to lead his team back, he was under constant pressure and ended up with cracked ribs.

The Steelers went into the game with a disadvantage, or so it seemed, along its offensive line. Rookie right tackle Kelvin Beachum was making his first start. Drafted as a center, he was the third different player they started at that position in the last eight games because of injuries to Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert.

Maurkice Pouncey was moved from center, where he has been an All-Pro, to left guard. Doug Legursky took over at center.

“They just did a great job of blocking us up front. Sometimes they had max protection, and sometimes they didn’t,” Ravens tackle Haloti Ngata said. “We just didn’t do a great job of converting. I think we were playing a little bit more (to defend) the run game and they did a great job of mixing it up.”

Tackle Terrence Cody didn’t see his team getting off the ball well. They lost the battle at the line of scrimmage on the snap.

“They were picking up blitzes and all that stuff. At the end of the day we got to execute more. We got to wrap up and get the guys down,” Cody said. “We had to get off blocks and rush the passer. We weren’t doing that every play.”

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Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

The Ravens reopened their training facility in Owings Mills, Maryland, on Tuesday under Phase I of the NFL’s process to reopen. This means that while the facility is open, players and coaches still cannot return.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan gave the green light last week that the Ravens could open their training facility and M&T Bank Stadium. 

According to the Ravens’ release, individuals returning to team facilities are mainly from the equipment crew, football video group, and the personnel department. The team is limited to a maximum of 75 people in the building at one time. Employees must wear masks and have their temperature checked before entering the building.

Phase II of the reopening process is to allow coaches, but still not players, into the facility — as long as the state allows for it. There has not been a date set for the beginning of Phase II.

For players and coaches to be in the facility at the same time, the Ravens indicated the target for the entire team to be together is for training camp, currently slated for the end of July. 

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Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

The importance of Miles Boykin’s second season as a Raven cannot be overstated. 

After a strong offseason last year, one that included a standout training camp, Boykin went under the radar in his 2019 campaign. He posted just 13 catches for 198 yards in 16 games and caught three touchdown passes. He was targeted only 22 times all season. 

He was the team’s eighth leading receiver, in terms of catches and yards, and was fourth in targets at the receiver position.

Now, with two more rookies in the wide receiver room, the urgency Boykin is facing is palpable. 

“I just feel like I’m getting better as an all-around player,” Boykin said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “I’m capable of a lot more, I’ll be able to play faster this year and have more chemistry with Lamar and just be able to go out there and play the game the way I want to play.”

He’ll travel to Florida next week to throw with Lamar Jackson, wide receiver Marquise Brown and a host of other Ravens, in place of offseason workouts that have been canceled. In the meantime, he’s trained with fellow second-year player in quarterback Trace McSorley, who is closer to home for Boykin -- meaning workouts are less of an ordeal to make happen. 

Chemistry for Boykin will be important, as the Ravens shipped tight end Hayden Hurst to the Falcons in the offseason and have said they could look to become more of a passing team in the future. 

But the Ravens also drafted wideouts Devin Duvernay and James Proche in April’s draft, which muddies the water as to where the increased targets can come from. 

That’s where Boykin thinks he can step in with his experience in the wide receiver group.

“When you’re younger, you worry about, ‘What do I have to do?’” Boykin said. “When you’re older, you know, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Like, 'this makes sense.' Everything starts to roll off of it. Now I’m worried about how to do things right, I’m not worried about what I need to do right. That’s part of film study that you don’t have time for during the season.”

Boykin added he won’t be shy about helping those rookie wide receivers, though, as now he’ll be one of the veterans in the room just a year removed from his rooke season.

“I would say film is going to be huge, especially during July,” Boykin said. “Even though I wasn’t participating in OTAs, I was still involved in meetings, I was doing everything else. I just couldn’t practice because I was injured. Even then, for rookies, it gets hard and stressful because you’re trying to pick up a whole new playbook. In July, you have a chance to relax a little bit, and I don’t think it’s going to be like that this year, especially for rookies.”

Despite everything, from Boykin’s confidence to knowledge of the offense, the threat of coronavirus has dampened expectations for everyone across the league in terms of what can be expected. 

That’s not Boykin’s concern, however. Whenever the 2020 season comes, if it does, he knows he’ll be ready. 

“At the end of the day, I’m still playing football -- if we have a season, obviously,” Boykin said. “It doesn’t matter where I’m playing it, who I’m playing it against, football is football. There’s going to be 11 people on each side of the ball and I just have to go out there and do my job. It doesn’t affect me as much.”

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