Ravens

Ravens

Rostered safeties: Chuck Clark, Earl Thomas III, Anthony Levine Sr., Jordan Richards, DeShon Elliott, Geno Stone, Nigel Warrior.

The Ravens’ safeties got a boost from an unlikely source in 2019. 

With the Ravens struggling defensively and on a two-game losing streak, starting safety Tony Jefferson went down with a season-ending knee injury against the Steelers. Little-known Chuck Clark stepped in to replace Jefferson as a starting safety. And from there, the defense thrived.

The Ravens allowed 300-plus passing yards in three of the first four games. But from Week 5 on, no team passed for more than 268 yards against the Ravens. 

Flanked by Earl Thomas, Clark helped turn the Ravens safety group into a strength. Paired with the team’s talent at cornerback, the secondary as a whole thrived the remainder of the season.

A year ago, the Ravens allowed a completion percentage of 58.4 percent and 3,315 yards passing — a 207.18 per-game average. They also surrendered just 15 passing touchdowns, second-best in the NFL.

With Clark, who signed a three-year, $16 million extension in the offseason and Thomas back in the mix, the Ravens’ safeties are once again primed to help lead the league’s best secondary. 

But now, they’ve got some help up front. 

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The Ravens struggled to rush the passer last season and ranked 21st in the league in total sacks. And without a true middle linebacker, Clark was pressed into action as a middle linebacker in a host of different packages. As a result, he led the team in tackles (73). Now, with rookie linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison on the roster, Clark should revert to playing more of a role in the secondary. 

 

Thomas’ first year in Baltimore went well, considering that he played his first football in over a year after breaking his leg in his last year in Seattle. He finished with two interceptions and 49 tackles.

Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale used Thomas all over the field, a role he didn’t play in Seattle. Now in his second year with Clark, the duo should help create more turnovers than it did a year ago — even if Clark and Thomas aren’t the recipients of those interceptions. 

The safety position has veteran depth behind Thomas and Clark with Anthony Levine, Jordan Richards, DeShon Elliott and rookie Geno Stone. 

Levine and Richards are known for their special teams prowess, but haven’t played significant time on the defensive side of the ball. Elliott, who was placed on injured reserve in October, will be healthy for training camp. 

Stone, though, is an interesting study entering the 2020 season as a 7th round pick.

    His selection was highlighted as a potential steal in the draft, and if he impresses enough in the first few weeks as a Raven, he could find himself as the team’s third safety. 

    So while the Ravens safety depth is a bit unproven defensively, the duo of Clark and Thomas should help make one of the best, if not the best, secondaries in the NFL.

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