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For the Baltimore Ravens it was all about defense in the 2017 draft

For the Baltimore Ravens it was all about defense in the 2017 draft

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens returned to their roots in the 2017 NFL draft.

Baltimore took a defensive player with each of its first four picks, shoring up the backfield with first-round selection Marlon Humphrey before adding two linebackers and an end on Day 2.

Big plays, long passes and flashy fantasy football running backs draw most of the headlines these days in the NFL, but for Baltimore it's all about defense.

Humphrey was a starting cornerback for the second-ranked defense in the country.

The three players selected on Friday -- Tyus Bowser of Houston, Michigan's Chris Wormley and Tim Williams of Alabama -- combined for 45 sacks over the past two seasons.

"We have always been a defensive team," Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "We think there's exceptional value with all four picks. They're guys that really fit who we are, with their skillset, their personality and the way they play."

Bowser, Wormley and Williams should benefit from the tutelage of 34-year-old Terrell Suggs, Baltimore's career sack leader.

"I think he is planning on showing them how to do it, not telling them how to do it," coach John Harbaugh said. "It is going to be fun to watch."

If Suggs and his new friends do their job, then the revamped defensive backfield will have an easier time of it.

After signing free agent cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Tony Jefferson, general manager Ozzie Newsome drafted Humphrey and capped the draft Saturday by selecting Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark in the sixth round.

"One of our main focuses this offseason was to really work to improve the secondary and also the pass rush," DeCosta said. "I think we were able to do that."

Here's where the Ravens stand after the draft:

FINALLY, SOME OFFENSE: The Ravens looked to the other side of the ball Saturday, selecting guard Nico Siragusa (San Diego State) in the fourth round and guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor of Texas A&M in the fifth.

Maybe Siragusa was attractive to Baltimore because Tony Siragusa (no relation) starred as a defensive tackle for the Ravens in the 2001 Super Bowl.

The Ravens are in need of a center to replace the traded Jeremy Zuttah, and Nico is willing to try.

"Man, I'm in the NFL," he said. "I'll play whatever."

Eluemunor will likely be given a look at right tackle in place of departed free agent Rick Wagner.

STILL NEED HELP: After going through free agency and the draft, the Ravens still don't have a deep threat besides Mike Wallace.

There's also a void at center and running back, and the team lacks depth on the offensive line and at tight end.

"There are going to be players that are going to be released after the draft. There are going to be players that are going to be released in training camp," Newsome said. "We are not done with the 53-man squad that we are going to play with when we open up against Cincinnati."

INSIDE INFO: Harbaugh's brother Jim is a coach at Michigan, so John received a first-hand scouting report on Wormley.

"I heard great things about him. He is one of the guys that Jim felt very strongly about," John said.

Newsome, meanwhile, has deep ties to Alabama, his alma mater. The addition of Humphrey and Williams brings to nine the number of Alabama players he has drafted.

TWO-SPORT STARS: Bowser suited up for the Houston basketball team for two seasons and Eluemunor played rugby in England, then wrestled and played football in high school.

Because Eluemunor got a late start on his football career, the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder should be considered a work in progress.

FINAL WORD: Newsome beamed after he was done with the draft, even though he didn't get everything he was looking for.

"The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team right now," Newsome declared. "And we will continue to work to get better."

Newsome can't say for sure if he drafted an immediate starter, but he's certain he got some contributors.

"With the attrition that happens in training camp and the season, you have to have depth," he said.

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Ravens vs. Broncos Week 3: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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AP Images

Ravens vs. Broncos Week 3: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 3 matchup against the Denver Broncos could have more repercussions than you think. As Case Keenum and Von Miller roll into town, a win will be vital before the team hits the road for three weeks. 

Coming off 10 days of rest, we'll begin to see what this 2018 team can do after a blowout Week 1 win to the Buffalo Bills was followed up by a dud of a Week 2 in Cincinnati

Joe Flacco and his three new receivers have been connecting on all levels, but now it's time to allow the backs to hit the ground running (pun intended). Alex Collins and Co. are averaging just 3.3 yards-per-carry, something John Harbaugh is not happy about.

"That’s a big priority," Harbaugh said Monday on getting the running game going. "We’re not, in any way, pleased with the numbers. And, we are very determined to run the ball well, because we think it fits our offense, and it’s something that opens everything else up. So, we have to get that going.”

The Ravens' receivers will need to take advantage of a weak Broncos secondary. Raiders' Derek Carr completed 29 of 32 in Week 2 thanks to the Broncos' CBs. That doesn't mean their defense is lacking entirely. There's of course outside linebacker Miller, who already has four sacks on the season, and strong safety Darian Stewart who will be the Ravens' offense' main target. 

"He’s the straw that stirs the drink, no doubt – one of the very best in the league at what he does," Harbaugh said. "We will have to have him accounted for at all times, on every play. If we don’t do that, he’ll wreck the game. That’s job [No.] 1 on offense – that’s where it starts.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Ravens could be without Pro Bowl middle linebacker C.J. Mosley after suffering a bone bruise in Week 2. He did participate in Thursday's practice, but there has been no word on his availability for Sunday's matchup. 

Mosley's absence was felt immediately against the Bengals, but the defense has had plenty of time to plan accordingly. A veteran presence was brought back to fill the void in Albert McCllelan as the team will have to keep a close eye on the Broncos' dynamic running back duo in undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.

Lindsay in currently third in the NFL in rushing yards (178) and has 35 receiving yards for one touchdown. His 100-plus yards in two games makes the 24-year-old the first undraftetd rookie to ever reach that achievement. Over two games, Freeman has rushed 23 times for 99 yards and one touchdown. 

Against the Ravens, quarterback Case Keenum has a 62.2 career rating in three starts with the Vikings, Texans and Rams. He still has a 2-1 record, however, against Baltimore. In his last six road starts, he's put up 13 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 100.8 rating.

Defensive tackle Willie Henry (abdomen), tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and defensive tackle Michael Pierce (foot) did not participate in Thursday's practice. Linebacker Matthew Judon (hamstring), Mosley (knee) and tackle Ronnie Stanley (elbow) were limited. 

Cornerback Adam Jones (thigh), inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee), nose tackle Domata Peko Sr. (not injury related) and tackle Jared Veldheer (concussion) did not practice Thursday for the Broncos. Safety Dymonte Thomas (abdomen) was limited. 

The two have met 13 times  – including two postseason games – with the Ravens leading the series 7-6. Ahead of Sunday's matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

RAVENS VS. BRONCOS WEEK 3 HOW TO WATCH:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos

What: Week 3 regular season

When: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Watch Now with FuboTV - Try Free Trial

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock

Weather: 67 degrees, cloudy

RAVENS 2018 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m. (W: 47-3)

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m. (L: 34-23)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

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Despite the optics, Ravens do have a weekly game plan for Lamar Jackson

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USA TODAY Sports

Despite the optics, Ravens do have a weekly game plan for Lamar Jackson

When the Ravens' offense takes the field on gameday, your eyes are probably searching for No. 8.

Since trading back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, one of the biggest questions facing the Ravens is how they would utilize the dynamic talents of Lamar Jackson in the present. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner has seen action in each of the Ravens' regular-season games at both QB and receiver. But fans looking for that instant spark, like what Browns rookie Baker Mayfield provided Thursday night, have yet to find No. 8.

While the use of Jackson and Joe Flacco at the same time allows for a playbook with more versatility, it continues to be a feeling-out process for both the Ravens and fans. 

“A lot of thought goes into that. We’ll see," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said on the process of deciding when to use Jackson. 

"Every game will be different with Lamar. He’ll play a little bit more in some, a little bit less in others, depending on who we’re going against, what style we’re going against and all those things.”

 “It’s week to week, gameplan to gameplan, game to game during the game," head coach John Harbaugh added during a Monday press conference. "There are more plays than five in the gameplan for him. We’ll just try to do what we can do with all the weapons we have to try to put as many points up as we can. That’s really what we’re trying to do with all our guys. I put him in the same category that way.”

In Week 1 against the Bills, Jackson took over the reins in the third quarter, going 1-of-4 for 25 yards and one sack. He added 39 rushing yards, averaging 5.6 yards-per-carry.

Then, in Week 2 against the Bengals, the rookie rushed two times for just six yards averaging 3 yards-per-carry. 

Jackson has yet to break through in the regular season, but there is absolutely zero reason for concern. 

He is simply an additional tool the Ravens are keeping in their back pocket for now, and while their reasoning behind using him on particular plays may appear sporadic, there's a method behind the madness. 

"There are a lot of different reasons why Lamar goes into a game at a particular time. It may not look like it, but it is well thought out.”

The Ravens' Week 3 opponent  — the Denver Broncos — expect to see Jackson on the field Sunday. When asked how much they're are preparing for him, Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller admitted the challenge he creates for a defense.

"I mean, like you said, it's tough to prepare for a guy like Lamar Jackson," Miller said on a conference call with media Wednesday. "There's not a receiver that can throw like him. It's hard to replicate that on the scout team. It's definitely a challenge." 

The good news for the Ravens and Jackson is that there's still a whole lot of football left to figure it all out. 

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