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Osemele to start while McKinnie sits

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Osemele to start while McKinnie sits

Coach John Harbaugh has said all along that the best five offensive linemen would start vs. the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, avoiding the question of whether or not veteran Bryant McKinnie would retain his position with the first unit at left tackle.

It is starting to appear that rookie Kelechi Osemele, who said he would have a "substantial" role with the offensive line earlier in the week while Harbaugh concurred, will be starting instead as the offensive line shifts.

"I think so," said Osemele, when asked if he was starting at tackle Saturday. "It looks like it."

Osemele, who has impressed throughout the preseason, likely will start at right tackle opposite Michael Oher. In the final exhibition game at the St. Louis Rams, Osemele started at right tackle while Oher rested.

Oher was the starting right tackle last season, but when the Ravens opened preseason play this time he was moved to the left side in place of McKinnie, who came into camp out of condition and drew the ire of the coaching staff. McKinnie was relegated to practicing with the second team.

McKinnie, going into his 12th season and listed as first on the depth chart at left tackle, almost left the Ravens earlier in the week when he was asked to restructure his contract.

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Stock up, stock down: Rating the Ravens as they move to 2-0 on the season

Stock up, stock down: Rating the Ravens as they move to 2-0 on the season

BALTIMORE — With the Ravens now at 2-0, there’s a lot to like about the team’s first two weeks and their outlook moving forward. 

But since every win can’t be a 49-point blowout, there were a few more things that went wrong in the 23-17 win over the Cardinals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Here are a few players whose stocks are on the move:

Stock up: Lamar Jackson

Jackson enjoyed the most complete game of his career, as he was responsible for 392 of the 440 total yards the Ravens gained on offense. 

He threw for 272 yards, rushed for 120 more and tossed two touchdown passes. It was his final pass, a 41-yard shot down the right sideline, that sealed the deal for the Ravens, as he capped off his day with a rainbow throw to Marquise Brown.

Jackson is the only player in league history to throw for 270 yards and rush for 120 additional yards in the same game. 

Stock down: The Ravens defense (before the red zone)

That’s an important clarification. For the most part, the Ravens defense struggled against the Cardinals Air Raid attack. 

Kyler Murray threw for 349 yards on 25-of-40 passing. Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald both went over 100 yards as the Cardinals found the red zone four times on the afternoon. 

“It’s a spread-open offense, and sometimes you get into some zone-coverage situations, and you have to get lined up fast and you have to communicate fast,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh explained. “The route matches are not simple. They’re not simple for any team. And when you have a bunch of receivers on the field, that’s what that offense is built to do.”

Arizona didn’t have much of a run game to speak of, a credit to the Ravens' front seven, but they didn’t need to as Murray played like the No. 1 pick most of the day.

Stock up: The Ravens defense (in the red zone)

While the Ravens allowed the Cardinals into the red zone four times, they only gave up 17 points in those trips. One of those drives could have swung the game, but the Ravens defense held strong. 

“We did a good job of covering them, which we didn’t do when they went down there and scored,” Harbaugh said. “They had us on the ropes a little bit there. We covered really well, and we presented in fronts that they couldn’t really get it in with.”

Yes, the Ravens have things to clean up in the secondary. But the team’s red zone defense played well enough to keep the Cardinals at bay.

Stock down: The referees

The referees didn’t decide the game, nor did they impact the final result in a large manner. 

But late in the fourth quarter, Marquise Brown was hit from behind before the ball arrived. The play looked like pass interference, but the referees determined it was clean.

Even after the Ravens challenged, the play stood. Harbaugh said he thought Brown had no chance to make the play. 

Al Riveron, Senior Vice President of Officiating for the NFL, released a statement after the game that there wasn’t enough to overturn the play. 

“We do see contact, but the contact has to rise to the level where it significantly hinders the opponent’s opportunity to make a play on the ball,” the report read. “And the only way we can see it is through clear and obvious video evidence. So contact by itself is not a foul.”

Stock up: Marquise Brown

The rookie had his breakout game last week, but he was a more consistent factor against the Cardinals. 

He was targeted 13 times and had eight catches for 86 yards. On the touchdown throw to Mark Andrews on the Ravens' first drive, the Cardinals were so concerned with Brown they left Andrews wide open. 

Brown was shifty, speedy, and showed excellent hands. All reasons why the Ravens made him the team’s first round pick in April.

Stock up: Mark Andrews

Andrews posted his second straight 100-yard receiving game with 112 yards on eight catches. He also added a touchdown on the team's first drive of the game.

He was seemingly always open for the Ravens over the middle, as the Cardinals were forced to choose between him and Brown. 

Paired together, Andrews and Jackson have become quite the formidable duo for the Ravens this season. 

Stock Down: Competition in the AFC North

The Steelers fell to 0-2. The Bengals were blown out, falling to 0-2. The Browns play Monday night in New York, and are 0-1. 

The Ravens are guaranteed to have at least a one-game lead in the division at the end of Monday, which is a significant hole for the rest of the division to climb out of. 

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Lamar Jackson shines on the ground and through the air in win over the Cardinals

Lamar Jackson shines on the ground and through the air in win over the Cardinals

BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson saved his best for last. 

With the Ravens facing a 3rd and 11 at their own 44-yard line and 3:05 remaining in the game, they dialed up a pass play. It ended up Jackson’s longest pass of the day. 

Wide receiver Marquise Brown had man-to-man coverage down the right sideline and caught a perfectly placed ball from Jackson for a 41-yard gain. 

The Ravens ran for a first down to ice the clock from there, as Jackson finished with 272 yards —the second-highest total in his career — in a 23-17 win over the Cardinals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. 

“He couldn’t have thrown it any better than that,” Brown said of the third-down conversion. “He put it in a great spot, and all I had to do, like I said, was hold my line.”

Jackson’s afternoon passing the ball wasn’t the only storyline, however.

He also rushed for a career-high 120 yards on 16 carries, leading the Ravens in both rushing and passing. 

Still, he found critique with his performance on a day he carried the Ravens from start to finish. 

“I feel like it was alright,” Jackson said. “Came out, executed some things. Could have been better. There’s a lot of passes I want back, some sacks I want back, but we came out with the victory.”

Jackson may not have impressed himself, but he impressed everyone else. He was the first player in NFL history to throw for over 270 yards and rush for 120 in the same game.

Jackson was breaking records — and he still thought he was off. Only no one else did. 

“He plays with feet, more than most quarterbacks,” Cardinals linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “It was good to see how much he has grown from last year. He’s an NFL quarterback now, and he’s phenomenal.”

Suggs, making his homecoming, couldn’t get a hold of Jackson, making three combined tackles. He had zero sacks. 

His prowess in the pocket kept Miami off-guard last week, and his elusiveness in the pocket kept Arizona off-guard this week. He was involved in 392 of the Ravens' 440 yards of total offense against the Cardinals. 

That’s what makes him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in football. 

“It’s going to be a real conundrum for them,” coach John Harbaugh described of opponents planning for Jackson’s dual-threat ability. “It’s going to be a real challenge for them to figure that out. They’re going to have to figure it out for themselves. But this league has a lot of smart people and a lot of great players.”

Jackson has made a living with his tight ends through the first two games of the season, specifically with Andrews, who finished with eight receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. He threw to Andrews consistently, so much so that Andrews became the first Raven since 2016 to post back-to-back 100 yard games. 

The two’s connection has been a steadying presence for the offense, something the team has been able to rely on for key third and fourth down situations. 

“I tell Mark all the time, ‘We’re going to play street ball,'” Jackson said. “And that’s what the case is. It was kind of like street ball, but everyone wants to win.”

Street ball or not, Jackson has developed a rapport with Andrews that’s been a link neither the Dolphins nor Cardinals could figure out. 

“The ferocious attitude that Mark is playing with, that’s a good quote right there, very descriptive,” Harbaugh said. “(Had) huge third-down conversions, third-and-longs a couple times if I recall right. Lamar made some great throws...but boy, Mark has a feel for the passing game.”

Of Jackson’s 37 pass attempts, Andrews was targeted on nine of them. 

The other significant number of targets went to Brown, who ended up with eight catches on 13 targets. He totaled 86 yards, including the 41-yard reception at the end of the game. But when his favorite targets aren’t there, Jackson can run off-script for game-changing plays.

“You all watched Lamar make great throws all day from the pocket,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “So, he has improved dramatically there. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. He is standing there and can throw it, and can beat you that way and with his legs. That’s a very good offense.”

In the last two weeks, Jackson has showcased his ability as a thrower and a passer. He was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week last week thanks to his arm, and today he carried the Ravens to victory with both his arm and legs. 

He might not have thought he played his best game, but the issue for opposing defenses now is figuring out which poison to take when it comes to Jackson’s dual-threat abilities. 

“I think for me, it his his composure right down to the end of the game,” right guard Marshal Yanda said. “It was not pretty at times, but we just kept at it, and in the fourth quarter he made the big play.”

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