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3 things we learned from the Ravens 26-15 win over the Eagles

3 things we learned from the Ravens 26-15 win over the Eagles

PHILADELPHIA — It didn’t take long for Marquise Brown to get tested.

On his first NFL snap, he caught a comeback route for a seven-yard gain. Later in the drive, his number was called on an end-around. The play went for a loss, but the tone was set early: Brown was going to be involved. 

In his first action of the preseason, Brown was on the field through the first quarter and parts of the second and showed no signs of a foot injury that slowed him down through all of training camp. In the Ravens 26-15 win over the Eagles on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field, Brown showed Ravens fans what they’d been clamoring for all preseason.

With Brown in the fold, the Ravens offense has an extra element of speed it simply lacks otherwise. 

Here are three things to takeaway from the Ravens 26-15 win over the Eagles. 

1. Marquise Brown

Brown touched the ball on five plays and registered 17 yards on three catches. 

He got the ball on those two plays in the first drive of the game, but stayed involved throughout the majority of the rest of the first half. He caught a bubble route that went for five yards, an out route for five yards and had his catch on a two-point conversion overturned due to a holding call. 

Battling a Lisfranc injury in his foot all summer, Brown has slowly made his return to the Ravens practice fields. He made his first appearance in team drills in practice less than two weeks ago and has slowly ramped up his recovery.

"It seemed like he did OK," coach John Harbaugh said. "He had a hitch and got a couple yards on that. I thought about trying to get him a deep ball in there, but it just didn't work out for us. He wasn't in long enough. It was good to see him out there. He didn't really flinch and now he's played a little bit so that's a positive."

It’s unknown whether he’ll play in the final preseason game of the season in Washington, but his performance on Thursday in Philadelphia is a welcome sign for the Ravens offense.

2. Youth Movement

On the Ravens first offensive snap of the game, five of the 11 players in the huddle were rookies: Right guard Ben Powers, quarterback Trace McSorley, running back Justice Hill and wide receivers Miles Boykin and Marquise Brown.

"We came in with the mindset we were going to come in and work hard, so being able to go out there and move the ball effectively and score points...it's fun," Hill said.

With Marshal Yanda, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram all not in the lineup for Thursday’s game, the Ravens turned to some younger players to get the job done in Philadelphia.

Although it’s unlikely McSorley will see significant time on offense this season, Boykin and Brown will likely see starter’s reps early on. 

With Jackson in just his second full season as a quarterback, the Ravens offense that took the field Thursday has an abundance of speed, talent, and most importantly, youth.

3. Lamar-less

The Ravens starting quarterback didn’t dress against the Eagles and it’s presumed his preseason is over with only one preseason game left against the Redskins. 

"I don't really want to touch on any reasons," Harbaugh said. "It's not like he has a major injury or anything, if that's what you're thinking. There's a lot of reasons for doing stuff like that. We didn't play Ronnie (Stanley) — we didn't play a number of guys."

Jackson’s night off gave the reigns to the rookie McSorley, who will likely start next week against the Redskins in his battle for a roster spot. McSorley shined with Jackson out of the lineup, further boosting his chances at making the 53-man roster.

Harbaugh said that Jackson would play about the same as he did against the Packers and Jaguars in previous weeks, but injuries to the offensive line could have changed the coaching staff’s minds. 

Jackson's final preseason line appears to be 10-of-16, 117 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs. He also carried the ball twice for 14 yards.

Baltimore’s first game is in Miami on Sept. 8, where Jackson — and presumably his offensive line — will be ready to go.

This post has been updated with quotes.

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How the Ravens hope to ground the Air Raid offense on Sunday

How the Ravens hope to ground the Air Raid offense on Sunday

Robert Griffin III knows the Air Raid offense. He also knows not to call every version of it the “Air Raid.”

When Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury was hired in Arizona, team’s intention was clear: Bring the “Air Raid,” or at least its concepts, to the NFL full-time. The team picked quarterback Kyler Murray No. 1 overall to lead the offense, committing to the system full bore. 

Whatever you call it, the offense is going to test the Ravens defense — specifically the secondary — Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. 

“Everybody has their own style,” Griffin said. “The foundation of the offense, of spreading people out, of trying to get easy completions, throwing the ball, it’s something that can translate to the NFL. I think our defense has a good grasp of what they’re going to be able to do, and what they can do.”

According to Sharpfootballstats.com, the Cardinals lined up with four wide receivers on 55 of their 82 offensive plays. They also lined up with three wide receivers on 15 plays and two wide receivers on nine plays. They never lined up with one or zero receivers. 

Murray threw the ball 54 times in the game, which went to overtime, as the Cardinals found their groove late in a 27-27 tie. 

But while the Cardinals are spreading things out, more so than any other NFL team, the concepts and route combinations aren’t foreign to the rest of the NFL.

“The thing of it is with Kliff’s offense, the offensive guys in this league have been stealing plays from him for years from Texas Tech,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “We’re just getting the full monty, if you will, of the Air Raid offense. History has a way of repeating itself in this league.”

The opportunity exists, though, for the secondary to have a big day.

“But I love these type of games, as a DB you’ve got to love these type of games,” safety Earl Thomas said. “These are two-pick games right here. You’ve gotta love it.”

Anticipating many four-wide sets from the Cardinals, the Ravens already made a move by promoting cornerback Maurice Canady from the practice squad. With Jimmy Smith’s MCL sprain, the move will add some depth to the secondary on a day when they’ll need it most. 

The Ravens will have to dictate much of their defensive strategy to stopping the offensive attack, but they’re not trying to change their defense too much. 

“We have safeties that can cover receivers as well in zone and man coverage, so we’ll be in different kinds of personnel groups, just like we always are, just in terms of how we want to game-plan and match those guys,” coach John Harbaugh explained. “We have a plan for that, obviously...but it’s a challenge. They’re spread out way more than anybody else.”

While the Ravens try to slow down Kingsbury’s attack, the long term sustainability of the offense remains a question to the rest of the league. 

Griffin doesn’t have any concerns.

“Just look at it this way: Almost anything is sustainable, as long as you’re committed to it,” Griffin said. “I had a coach tell me one time, ‘If you believe in something, then you have to go forth and do that thing consistently.’ That’s what they’re doing. They’re not partially doing the Air Raid, they’re fully committed to it.”

A full commitment to the offense, however, still means pulling from the rest of the league. 

The Cardinals don’t have an offensive coordinator, but Tom Clements is the team’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. He was with the Green Bay Packers from 2006-2016.

The concepts that the Cardinals are using have been around the NFL for years. Now it's being fully implemented, and it's just a matter of keeping opposing defenses on their toes.

“Well, that’s no different from any other offense in the NFL, you have to keep evolving,” Griffin said. “If you don’t evolve, yes, you can be extinguished. But if you keep evolving the offense and keep evolving how you run the offense, yeah, it’s sustainable.”

Long-term viability aside, the only evolution the Ravens are concerned with is how the Cardinals will change from week one to week two. And even that can be a mystery.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s four-wide or four tight ends,” Martindale began. “I have angst every Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see if they stay heavy with that (four wide receiver) package, because they have other packages as well, and they can still do all of the same things out of it. So, it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

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Ravens add cornerback Maurice Canady in preparation for Cardinals Air Raid offense

Ravens add cornerback Maurice Canady in preparation for Cardinals Air Raid offense

In preparation of the team's matchup against the Cardinals and their Air Raid offense, the Ravens added cornerback Maurice Canady to the 53-man roster off their practice squad. In a corresponding move, the team waived tackle Greg Senat.

With Jimmy Smith out with an MCL sprain, the team lacked depth at a position expected to be needed on Sunday. The Cardinals run their offense with a significant number of three and four-wide receiver sets, which is where Canady will come into play. 

Canady is a four-year veteran and was a sixth round pick of the Ravens in 2016. He'll play behind Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, and Anthony Averett on Sunday.

Senat was a 2018 sixth round pick of the Ravens and was one of nine offensive linemen on the team. 

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