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Training camp preview: offense


Training camp preview: offense

Let the countdown to football end.

The Ravens are opening training camp in Owings Mills this week, with the quarterbacks and rookies hitting the practice field Tuesday and the first full-squad workout scheduled for Thursday.

Although much of the lineup is set, theres still a lot on the line, a lot to be determined. Here are the top five issues to monitor on the offensive side:

Do things go smoothly with the line?

Even Ravens coach John Harbaugh admitted in a radio interview last week that he is curious to see how this much-discussed veteran unit comes together. The questions are many. Is left tackle Bryant MckKnnie in shape? Is Bobbie Williams the answer at left guard? Is Matt Birk healthy and ready for another year? Is the depth too young? Are the starters too old?

How does Joe Flacco look?

As always, the arc of the Ravens season will depend heavily on how their quarterback plays. Flacco is coming off a lesser year statistically, but he played well in the AFC title game, had the Ravens within a dropped pass of the Super Bowl, and has spent the spring practice season in counsel with a new position coach, Jim Caldwell. Is their new association a game-changer?

Who backs up Ray Rice?

The Pro Bowl running back is locked in after signing a five-year deal last week, but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron likes to give 100-plus carries a year to another back. The Ravens invested a 2012 third-round-pick in Bernard Pierce, and Anthony Allen and Damien are back from the fringes of the 2011 roster. If none of those suffice, the team might bring in a vet.

Is Jacoby Jones the No. 3 receiver?

The Ravens really want to give Flacco more downfield targets besides starting wideouts Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, and they brought in Jones to fill that role as well as returns kicks and punts. He exhibited blazing speed in practice but also dropped a few passes, a habit that troubled him in Houston. Regardless of how Jones fares, Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams will press for more snaps, and keep an eye on undrafted free agent Deonte Thompson, who turned heads in the spring.

Is Torrey Smith poised to break out?

The team's 2011 second-round pick had a strong rookie season, set some franchise records and scored a touchdown in the AFC title game. But he also dropped a few more passes than he wanted. More than a few observers believe he could develop into one of the NFL's better game-breakers in 2012. He underwent offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia and looked sharp in the spring.

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Ravens hold on to another close preseason win in Week 2

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Ravens hold on to another close preseason win in Week 2

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Ravens spoiled Andrew Luck's Indianapolis homecoming.

They picked him off before allowing a completion, and Terrell Suggs nearly chopped the ball out of Luck's hands on a sack. The Ravens then secured a 20-19 preseason win over the Colts by stopping a late 2-point conversion run.

Luck was just OK in his first home start since Jan. 1, 2017. But he did receive a roaring ovation from the crowd when he took the field, led the Colts to one score and apparently emerged unscathed after going down twice on sacks.

"Not too sharp, certainly red-zone turnovers are a negative, missed a couple of throws I'd like to hit," he said. "And I didn't feel like we, as an offense, got into any semblance of a sustained rhythm."

Expectations were high following a solid start in Seattle.

This time, the Colts (1-1) looked sloppy.

Luck missed his first three throws, the third winding up in the hands of Ravens safety Anthony Levine Jr. Luck rebounded to finish 6 of 13 for 50 yards and set up 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri for a 57-yard field before leaving in the second quarter.

If Luck had his way, he might have played longer. But first-year coach Frank Reich wasn't taking any chances with Luck's surgically repaired arm.

"We just never found a rhythm for him and some of his balls were not his best balls," he said. "But I still have a lot of confidence we're headed in the right direction."

Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens looked better.

Flacco went 7 of 9 for 72 yards and one touchdown. Jackson then showed flashes of what helped him win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

Jackson was 7 of 15 for 49 yards and a TD and carried four times for 26 yards before giving way to another Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, in the fourth quarter.

Indy still had a chance at the end after Tarell Basham recovered a fumble at the Ravens 9. Five plays later, Phillip Walker threw a 9-yard TD pass to Zach Pascal with 2:24 left. But the Ravens (3-0) stopped Walker on the 2-point try, recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

"Happy to get the win," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We did a lot of things that weren't winning football, especially in the second half."

The Ravens made it tough on Indy all night.

They stopped Indy twice in the red zone and nearly had a third when Jordan Wilkins fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it bounced right into the hands of receiver Chester Rogers.

Flacco gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter when he hooked up with John Brown on a 7-yard score, and Jackson's masterful hurry-up drive at the end of the first half ended with Justin Tucker's 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left.

When Colts rookie Nyheim Hines fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half, Jackson hooked up with Chris Moore on a 7-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

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Joe Flacco not at all concerned with Jalen Ramsey's 'he sucks' comment

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Joe Flacco not at all concerned with Jalen Ramsey's 'he sucks' comment

After spending 10 years in the National Football League, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been called just about everything.

His "eliteness" has been in question ever since winning the Super Bowl during the 2012-13 season, and while Flacco is known for his "cool as a cucumber" demeanor, he still hears all the noise.

In an interview with GQ, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey gave an uncensored review on some of the league's top players. When asked what he thinks of Flacco, Ramsey responded with "And just being honest about it, [Joe] Flacco sucks. I played him two years in a row. He sucks."

Just one of several QBs Ramsey took a shot at, Flacco will be adding his comment to the laundry list of opinions.

“I don’t really have much of a comment,” Flacco said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t really care. There’s plenty of people out there saying things. Just add one more to the list. No big deal.”

After finishing the 2017 season with 3,141 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, there were a lot of opinions surrounding Flacco's future with the team. Those opinions ramped up when the Ravens traded up in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

But Flacco has begun quieting those doubters with what has been his strongest and healthiest training camp in years. And with Jackson still adjusting to NFL style of play, the 2018 season is Flacco's time to prove he's still got it.

While Ramsey isn't too high on Flacco, the All-Pro cornerback foresees a successful career for Jackson.

"I would've picked [Lamar Jackson] earlier than 32," Ramsey said. "I think he's gonna do a good job. Especially with the [Baltimore Ravens'] offensive coordinator—he likes running quarterbacks, likes that read option."

Among other QBs Ramsey sounded off on was Bills first-round draft pick Josh Allen, who he called "trash," said Ben Roethlisberger is "decent at best" and that Jared Goff is "average to above average."