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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

With OTAs underway, Peter King has released his 2019 NFL preseason power rankings and of the biggest surprises is the Baltimore Ravens landing at No. 12 on the list. Although stud Lamar Jackson surprised people last season, given the substandard state of their defense and the burden on Jackson to shoulder the load offensively, King may have the Ravens ranked a few spots too high. 

Let's start with their problems on defense. Most notably they lost linebacker Terrell Suggs, the heart and soul of their defense for the past decade. Although past his prime, Suggs is still a productive player and they will undoubtedly miss his leadership. They released defensive back Eric Weddle, who was coming off two straight Pro-Bowl appearances. Their justification was that he's 34 and by releasing him, they could allocate the money to re-signing All-Pro linebacker C.J. Mosley. Solid reasoning, if Mosley didn't sign with the New York Jets in the offseason.

Credit must be given, however, to the four-year, $55 million contract given to former Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Coming off a broken leg, he is easily the biggest X-factor for this defense. If he produces like the Earl Thomas of old, it'll more than makeup for the loss of the Weddle. They'll also be getting back defensive tackle Willie Henry from injury, who's young and hungry.

Although last years' defense was one of, if not the top unit in the NFL, all anyone could manage to talk about was the dynamic offense led by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Coach John Harbaugh threw caution to the wind and handed the reins to Jackson in Week 10, and the Ravens proceeded to win six of their next seven games behind a run-dominated offense.

It's a toss-up if they'll be able to replicate that success this season. On the one hand, the unconventional attack took the league by storm last year and one could argue the league just needed time to adapt to this new-look offense. On the other hand, the Ravens did add some electric new pieces to the offense to replace the losses of wide receivers Michael Crabtree and John Brown. 

They added Mark Ingram who is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league when healthy. Their first-round pick, wide receiver Marquise Brown, is one of the fastest players Todd McShay has ever evaluated. Third-round pick wide receiver Miles Boykin was one of the 20 fastest players at the draft and fourth-round pick  Justice Hill registered the fastest 40 time for running backs at the combine. Adding young, electric talent will enhance Jackson's already stellar playmaking ability. 

At tight end, they're one of the deepest teams in the NFL, headed up by Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. Keep in mind, however, that this is the NFL: it all starts with the quarterback. Jackson completed passes at a 58.2% clip last season. If the Ravens are serious about building around him, he'll have to improve as a passer. 

Taking the defensive deficiencies and questions on offense into account, and 12 is too high for the preseason power rankings; 16 is more appropriate. In his article, King writes about the Ravens saying, "They could win 11. They could win six." If I had to choose one outcome I'd take the latter. 

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Hayden Hurst reached Ravens' top speed during his touchdown catch and run vs. Bills

Hayden Hurst reached Ravens' top speed during his touchdown catch and run vs. Bills

If you had Hayden Hurst registering the fastest speed of any Ravens player on a touchdown entering the season, come collect your prize.

The second-year tight end reached 20.5 miles-per-hour on his 61-yard touchdown against the Bills, the fastest any Baltimore player has been tracked this season.

The feat is especially impressive when you consider the speedster's Baltimore has on its roster. Quarterback Lamar Jackson ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at the scouting combine and is just 22 rushing yards away from breaking Michael Vick's single-season rushing yards record by a quarterback.

Jackson's top speed this season came on a 12-yard rushing touchdown in Week 12 against the Rams, hitting 20.33 mph, according to NFL's Next Gen Stats.

First-round pick Marquise "Hollywood" Brown has topped 20 mph three times this season, but never above 20.43 mph.

The 26-year-old tight end ran just a 4.67 40-yard dash at the combine, fast for a tight end but not overly impressive. But Hurst saw open grass in front of him and turned on the jets as fast as he could.

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Ravens bruised but hopeful after Buffalo win ahead of short week  

Ravens bruised but hopeful after Buffalo win ahead of short week  

The Ravens entered Week 14 as healthy as they’d been all season. 

They had perfect attendance at Friday’s practice — 53-for-53 — and didn’t have injury concerns at any spot of the roster. 

Sunday in Buffalo, plans changed. 

Baltimore had three players — Mark Andrews, Anthony Levine and Chris Board — leave with injuries and never return. Chris Moore, Chuck Clark and Jihad Ward were also injured, but returned at some point to the field. 

“Mark is not serious, thigh bruise type of thing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Anthony is not serious, ankle, low. Both of those guys told me they’d be back Thursday. We’ll see how that goes as the week goes on.”

Andrews entered Sunday leading the team in targets with 79 and 53 receptions. Levine is one of the team’s top special teams players and an integral part of what the Ravens do in every facet of special teams. 

The loss of Andrews was mitigated by the performance of Hayden Hurst, who burst onto the scene and scored a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He had three catches for 73 yards total.

“Hayden, to come out and make that play...you can see his ability there,” Harbaugh said. “He ran a good route. It was predicated on the fact that they were going to come down on the run real hard, and they did...Hayden accelerated, he caught it and ran. He was running away from defensive backs there.”

Without Board, another special teams player, the Ravens didn’t suffer any notable lapses on special teams all afternoon. 

It actually could have been worse, as Moore, Clark and Ward all returned after leaving the game with injuries.

The defense wasn’t any worse for wear, as they sacked Bills quarterback Josh Allen six times and made him uncomfortable throughout the day. The secondary came up large when it needed to, allowing just 146 yards through the air. 

Baltimore won’t have much time to address the injuries as it will now have to turn its attention to the Jets, who come to Baltimore on Thursday night. 

In a short week, there might actually be true injury concerns now for some of the most impactful players on the roster.

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