It appears the Steelers are preparing to swim against the tide of NFL history. Or, more accurately, run against it.
It's a passing league. It's a quarterback league. The days of ground and pound are over. Those are the sort of things you'll hear from professional pontificators about the state of the NFL.
But the Steelers aren't listening. Though in Ben Roethlisberger they have a QB perfectly capable of directing a pass-happy offense, under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, they are indicating this preseason that they intend to rely on the run.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes: "They are trying to deliver on a desire expressed by the club's president 3 12 years ago when Bruce Arians was coordinator and owner Art Rooney said the team needed to run the ball better. If the team does not do so in 2012, it won't be for a lack of trying."
Yes, it's the preseason, but Bouchette points out that Pittsburgh has called running plays 58.6 percent of the time so far "and that tops anything they did at the height of the Jerome Bettis Bus tour."
Backup quarterback Charlie Batch told the Post-Gazette: "I think in the first two preseason games, Coach Haley wanted to go out there and create that identity and run the football."
The Steelers will be doing so without their top running back from last season, Rashard Mendenhall, for at least the start of the season. Mendenhall is trying to come back from a torn ACL and may not return until October at the earliest. (Mendenhall recently was taken off the physically unable to perform list, meaning that, in theory, he could return within the first six weeks of the regular season.)
If the Steelers do indeed want to go retro with a run-first approach, that should only be good news for the Ravens. After all, what does the Ravens defense do consistently well? Stop the run.
Football is back in session for the Ravens.
Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.
The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.
This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief.
Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011.
Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason.
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There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.
OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.
The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.
The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively.
During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.
Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.
They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.
Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.
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