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It appears the Ravens will indeed be looking to use Trace McSorley as a QB -- and more

It appears the Ravens will indeed be looking to use Trace McSorley as a QB -- and more

The Ravens entered the 2019 NFL Draft with a few obvious needs. They addressed many of those early on, including two wide receivers, a pass-rusher, an explosive running back, and an interior offensive lineman.

One position many fans didn’t expect to see drafted by the purple and black was quarterback. Lamar Jackson is entering his second season in Baltimore, and the Ravens re-signed Robert Griffin III to be his backup. With Joe Flacco as QB1, the team rarely rostered a third quarterback, but it looks like that’s exactly what they’re planning for the near future.

Eric DeCosta surprised fans with his selection of Penn State QB Trace McSorley in the sixth round, the team’s final pick of the year. Many questioned what the need was for a third-string quarterback. According to the Ravens front office, McSorley’s role will be a bit more involved than that.

McSorley has taken an interesting path to the NFL, and was one of NBC Sports Washington's featured players in its recent "I Am The Prospect" video series.

It’s not too common to see an NFL quarterback playing receiver or running back at times, let alone special teams. But it’s also not as rare as you might think. The ideal comparison in today’s league is Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints.

In 2018, Hill attempted seven passes, was targeted as a receiver seven times, and rushed 37 times. He also returned 14 kickoffs and one punt.

Could McSorley play a Swiss Army Knife role for the Ravens in the same vein? It seems like that’s what head coach John Harbaugh is hoping for.

It’s impossible to deny the Ravens’ focus in this year’s draft was team speed. Players like Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and Justice Hill are proof positive of that, and McSorley fits along those same lines.

Adding speed gives this franchise a dimension they’ve rarely, if ever, had, and McSorley’s versatility will likely play a big role in that. At the very least, he and the Ravens are having fun imagining the possibilities.

As Harbaugh put it when asked about the possibility of seeing three passers on the field at the same time in 2019, “Hey, why not? Even our quarterbacks are fast.”

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Ravens not changing much for three days against the Eagles

Ravens not changing much for three days against the Eagles

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens headed up to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in two joint practices before a game on Thursday, there isn’t much expected to change in terms of game reps. 

Coach John Harbaugh said Lamar Jackson will play about the same amount that he played in the first two games. He was on the field for 16 snaps against the Jaguars and 22 against the Packers. 

What could change, however, is some of the offensive game planning that goes into preparation for a different style of defense. 

“Not specifically, no, but I definitely think (with) this style of defense, we’ll definitely have a little bit of a different game plan going in,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “It necessitates that, which is good for us. I don’t think we’re saying, ‘We’re going to run what we’re going to run in the first couple weeks of the season.’ We might, but we might not. I don’t want to give away anything. I definitely think we’ll do some different stuff.”

While Roman remained secretive about the exact plan for Thursday, a week in Philadelphia against a team expected to contend in the NFC this season will be illuminating for the Ravens. 

The Eagles run a 4-3 defense, different from the Ravens' 3-4, so they’ll get a new look on defense, too. 

Offensively, Philadelphia boasts Carson Wentz, one of the league’s top quarterbacks. With a skill group of Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and DeSean Jackson, too, the Ravens secondary will be under the lights in both this week’s practices and game.

“This is going to be a big test for us, going to Philly, because they’ve got a lot of skill at wide receiver and tight end and running back,” defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “It’s going to be a measuring stick definitely, for sure.”

As the days tick away toward final cut down day on Aug. 31, the margin for error is shrinking daily.

“This third preseason game, it’s getting down to crunch time now, where guys are going to make the 53 or they’re not. The biggest message was, ‘If you think you’re on the bubble, you are,” Martindale continued.

The Ravens will take a slightly more banged up team into Philadelphia than they had last week, as there were some notable absences from practice on Sunday.

The 14 players missing from practice included: Seth Roberts, Miles Boykin, Kenneth Dixon, Gus Edwards, Randin Crecelius, Greg Senat, Marshal Yanda, Tavon Young, Iman Marshall, Marlon Humphrey, Chris Board, Nicholas Grigsby, Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray. 

Young (neck injury) is expected to be out long term, but no other injuries are thought to be as serious.

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Cyrus Jones looking to seize new opportunity at slot corner

Cyrus Jones looking to seize new opportunity at slot corner

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Cyrus Jones’ old role with the Ravens was as a depth cornerback and return man on special teams. His new role could have much more significance. 

Despite a comfortable win over the Packers last Thursday, the good feelings were quickly dampened by an announcement from coach John Harbaugh that nickel cornerback Tavon Young would likely miss the rest of the season with a neck injury.

Young is still waiting to make a final decision, but with him out of the fold for a significant chunk of time, the race is on to try to replace him in an important role on the Ravens defense.

As of Saturday, one of the favorites to assume that role was Jones. He played 34 defensive snaps against the Packers (57 percent), the highest total on the defense, and is a top option for the Ravens in replacing Young.

“Tavon is a great player, I hate seeing what’s going on with him right now,” Jones said. “I’m praying for him, as all of us are, but it’s up to the next man to step up, whoever that is, and I’m just keeping on trying to come out here and practice hard and get better.”

Young signed a three-year, $25.8 million dollar contract in the offseason. The signing made him the highest-paid nickel cornerback in the league. 

Now, the Ravens will use a host of cornerbacks to assume Young’s role on defense. He had 37 tackles, two sacks and one interception last season. He also recovered three fumbles, two of which went for touchdowns. 

“We’ve got a lot of guys, it will be a little different plan if Tavon’s not there, in terms of playing more guys in the slot than we normally would’ve,” Harbaugh said.

Jones, originally a second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2016, played 10 games in 2016 before a torn ACL and meniscus ended his 2017 campaign. 

He bounced between New England and Baltimore last season, twice, before settling into his role with the Ravens last year. He played in 13 total games, 11 of which were with Baltimore. 

As for this preseason, he’s registered six total tackles and an interception that went for a touchdown. He saw the majority of his work this preseason, though, against the Packers.

“I think I played hard, I think I played smart,” Jones said. “I got a little fatigued at the end, but overall, I think I’m holding my own out there, flying around and just trying to execute.”

Now, he’ll assuredly be in the mix at cornerback. Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr figure to be the team’s top cornerbacks, but Anthony Averett, Maurice Canady and the return of Iman Marshall could also play a part in how the Ravens fill the role.

Aside from the Young injury news, Harbaugh announced guard Marshal Yanda won’t play in the preseason, but will be ready for the season opener September 8 against the Dolphins. 

First-round pick Marquise Brown is on a much shorter trajectory, however, and could see playing time at the Ravens and Eagles joint practices Monday and Tuesday before the third preseason game of the season. 

That game won’t be a typical third preseason game, though, as Harbaugh told reporters quarterback Lamar Jackson won’t have much different of a workload than he did in the first two preseason games. He played 16 snaps against the Jaguars and 22 against the Packers. 

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