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What we learned from the Ravens' preseason finale win over the Redskins

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What we learned from the Ravens' preseason finale win over the Redskins

The Ravens' Thursday night preseason finale was the last chance for several roster bubble players to make their impression before Saturday's 4 p.m. 53- man roster cut. 

Baltimore emerged victorious with a 30-20 win over the Redskins, ending the preseason with a perfect 5-0 record.

Here's what we learned from the Ravens victory over the rival Redskins in the preseason finale.

1. Lamar Jackson's performance could have impact on RGIII's future

To much disappointment, Robert Griffin III did not get the opportunity to face his former team in what could be his last time in a Ravens uniform. The team deciding not to play Griffin III in the preseason finale could mean one of two things; they've seen enough to keep him on the 53-roster or they're planning to trade him. 

"There's no doubt that you want Robert Griffin on your team," head coach John Harbaugh said. "He makes our quarterback room better and stronger. He looks like a starter to me. He has been a starter. Certainly a backup in this league, without question. I mean, that's not even close. I would like to have him on the team. We'll just have to see how the math works."

Harbaugh also noted not to read too much into all of it. When asked about his pending fate post game, RGIII said, "I haven't been told anything as far as my future here with this team or anywhere else."  

His future in Baltimore could rely heavily on Lamar Jackson's performance Thursday. The rookie earned his first NFL start going 9-of-15 for 109 yards and a 82.4 QB rating. Jackson also rushed for 25 yards on three attempts and one touchdown.

Overall, Jackson looked the strongest he has all preseason, but how much faith the Ravens have in the rookie IF something were to happen to Joe Flacco will be answered Saturday at 4 p.m..

2. No answers on who will take the remaining WR spots

Wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown and Chris Moore have secured spots on the Ravens roster, but the final two spots are still up in the air. 

We were waiting for Breshad Perriman, Jordan Lasley, Tim White, Janarion Grant, Andre Levrone or DeVier Posey to give us something to talk about against the Redskins and that never really happened. Perriman was 3-4 for 24 yards, but his limited effort trying to block Adonis Alexander on an overturned interception had to be a strike against him. Plus, he lacks what White and Grant can offer on special teams. 

What could help White make the cut is his versatility. Throughout the preseason, he has contributed on special teams, at wide receiver, and Thursday night at slot cornerback. At this point, these six men just have to be at peace with how they've performed over the last six weeks. 

3. Cornerback depth became even thinner

CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste was en-route to making the Ravens' 53-man roster with the four-week suspension of Jimmy Smith until he exited Thursday's game in the first with what appears to be a broken arm. A very tough pill to swallow for the New Orleans Saints' 2014 second-round pick who's appeared in only four career games. 

That leaves the Ravens with Tavon Young, rookie Anthony Averett, Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr at the position while Maurice Canady has been sidelined since the team's first joint practice with the Colts.

All of this explains why Tim White made an appearance Thursday night at the position. How they supplement for the lack of depth will be interesting to watch as rosters are cut. 

Ravens-Redskins Notes:

– Harbaugh said during the postgame press conference that fullback/nose tackle Patrick Ricard will make the roster. He had one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and four combined tackles Thursday night.

– DE Bronson Kaufusi had an impressive night, leading the team's defense with 10 combined tackles and two sacks for 13 yards. Harbaugh praised his constant hustle saying,"... whatever it is, it’s just hustle this, hustle that. That’s how he plays. That’s how he lives his life. To me, he’s a four-three defensive end in real life. That’s probably what he’s meant to be. We play that package, so he could have a role with us."

– Rookie linebacker Kenny Young exited the game early in the first half with a knee injury. Young called the injury "nothing serious" and said he would be getting an MRI today. Going into the game, he lead the Ravens defense in tackles with 18. 

– Preseason wins mean nothing, but the Ravens finished 5-0. They have not lost a preseason game since September 3, 2015.


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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.


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Youth movement leads Ravens’ list of MVPs of 2018 season

Youth movement leads Ravens’ list of MVPs of 2018 season

The Baltimore Ravens' 2018-19 season certainly wasn't boring.

A change at starting quarterback while displaying the NFL's No. 1 defense for just the second time in team history en route to a playoff run highlighted their campaign. 

With rookies on the rise and veterans still at the top of their game, who on the Ravens' roster had MVP performances in 2018?

Offensive MVP: QB Lamar Jackson

Coming in for an injured Joe Flacco in Week 11, Jackson pulled the Ravens out of a four-game losing streak and led the team to a 6-1 record down the stretch. His 695 rushing yards is the most by all NFL quarterbacks in 2018 and also ranks 11th most by a quarterback in NFL single-season-history. 

The Ravens' leader for the foreseeable future, Jackson landed the team in their first postseason appearance in three seasons and rekindled fandom in the city of Baltimore. 

Defensive MVP: CB Marlon Humphrey

Humphrey followed up his strong rookie season with an even stronger sophomore season. Nursing a groin injury for part of it, Humphrey led the team with 15 passes defended, 37 total tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. 

Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15, the cornerback produced a career-high four passes defended and one interception in the 20-12 win. Through 14 games, Humphrey proved he can matchup with some of the best receivers in the league while slowly emerging as a leader of the defense.

Special Teams MVP: Justin Tucker

He's the most reliable guy in Baltimore, finishing the 2018 season with a franchise-record 141 points for the third-consecutive season.

Named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month in September and November, Tucker was snubbed from a Pro Bowl appearance after making 36 of 39 field goal attempts. 

Unsung Hero: RB Gus Edwards

Beep, beep. Make way for Gus 'the bus'' Edwards. 

Alongside Jackson, the undrafted rookie out of Rutgers emerged in their Week 11 matchup against the Bengals rushing for 115 yards on 17 carries and his first-career touchdown. Through seven weeks, Edwards helped take the Ravens' 27th ranked run game to No. 2 in the league. An introvert in the locker room but an extrovert on the field, Edwards became the Ravens' second rookie in franchise history to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in Week 11 and Week 12.

With Greg Roman being promoted to offensive coordinator, expect to see Gus 'the bus' pounding the field in 2019.