Preparing for a September of Ravens kickoffs and Orioles thrillers

- Advertisement -

A month to remember as Ravens kickoff and Orioles prep for postseason baseball. Luke Jones and Dennis Koulatsos prepare for a September of Baltimore sports unlike any other.


orioles, ravens, year, player, roster, pitch, play, lamar jackson, game, defense, team, question, offense, season, ben, tommy john surgery, field, talking, week, injury


Dennis Koulatsos, Luke Jones

Dennis Koulatsos  00:02

Welcome back My first guest as always is the great Luke Jones doing great things up there. And from Parts Unknown, right how many people parts of known as that must be a very populous region because we’ve heard that term before but Luca, I was just at the Kennedy yards to tonight after witnessing eight straight Oreos losses and my friends telling me not to go anymore, they won but then they come back Wednesday and lay an egg

Luke Jones  00:29

Yeah, I mean, hey, you’re gonna lose some ballgames. They want a series they finish up a six and three homestead. I’m glad you got to see a victory though. I know you did become more more passionate and enthusiastic about this product this year and what the Orioles are doing so glad to see you got to win before they head back out to the West Coast for another long road trip. Yeah, no,

Dennis Koulatsos  00:49

yeah, no question about it, Luke. It was a lot of fun. A lot of excitement at the yard these days. It’s great to see the young guys play. I’m not sure they realize what they recognize what they’re doing in their achievements. But it’s getting tighter up the top Tampa Bay’s playing good ball as well. Looks like it’s gonna come down to the wire.

Luke Jones  01:09

Yeah, it really does. No question about it. I mean, for for as much as the race struggled in the month of July and the Oreos got to a point where they were able to shrink that deficit and take over first place right around what was it July 19, July 28, something like that. And the Oreos have been in first place ever since the razor playing really good baseball. And I think this what you just said is exactly right that both these teams, you’re kind of waiting for one or the other to blank. And I think for the Orioles. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the devastating loss of Felix Batista to a UCL injury. We don’t know officially, how long he’s going to be out whether he’s going to require Tommy John surgery, which would not just take them out for the rest of this year, but also next year, but it’s a big loss. And it doesn’t mean they’re not going to make the playoffs. It doesn’t mean they can’t make a run in October, but it certainly changes the makeup of the bullpen. I think it changes the makeup of the entire pitching staff for that matter, because that’s how huge Felix Batista was. But as Mike Elias said when he announced information on the injury to Batista last weekend, he pointed out that the Orioles aren’t the only team in the elite, that that’s dealt with an injury like that. I mean, look at the rays, the number of pitching injuries they’ve had number of guys having Tommy John surgery, they just lost Shane McClanahan, not that long ago, a couple of weeks ago when that news came out. So unfortunately for pitching, you know, that’s, that’s the nature of the game, these guys break and you look at someone like Batista, even at six foot eight 285 pounds as he’s listed, you watch him pitch and you just kind of think to yourself, the human arm wasn’t meant to throw 102 miles per hour. And unfortunately, as much as I love watching these various pitchers, especially in today’s day and age where they throw so hard, this is part of it. And this is why you need to have quality pitching depth in your organization. So we’ll see how it’s gonna play out. Certainly Janja Cano has stepped into the closer’s role thus far. I think you’ll see some other guys get some opportunities, depending on the matchup, depending on that night, whoever they’re playing. But this is a time for a DL haul to step up. You know, Tyler Wells is going to be back in that bullpen at some point. You know, we’ve talked about Fujinami, we’ve talked about Danny Coolum different guys have CNL Perez guys that have either been in the bullpen all year or some guys that are gonna get some opportunities here in the month of September, and we’ll see if they’re ready to handle it, you know, you’re not going it’s not going to be one guy that replaces Felix Batista. But if you have collective group, you know, if you’ve, if you have multiple guys that are able to step up and offer you just a little bit more, that’s how you’re able to survive something like this. That’s how you’re able to endure and that’s how you’re able to keep yourself in position to not make the playoffs, they’re gonna make the playoffs, you know that that’s not really in question anymore. But in terms of trying to win the division, in terms of trying to get that number one seed, which would give you a buy through the wildcard round, they’re gonna have to get a number of guys to step up because even the best case scenario on Batista, which I don’t even know what that would be at this point, I mean, avoiding Tommy John surgery, I still don’t know if that means he’s going to pitch this the rest of this year and certainly one know if he’d be the same Felix Batista that we’ve come to know. So I think you have to at this point, prepare as though you’re not going to see him and you move forward. And if if it ends up being a little bit better than they thought, you know, if the news is better than they thought then great, but I think at this point, you have to be preparing to not have him the rest of the year. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there if it is indeed Tommy John surgery but I certainly the Orioles still have so much to play for and so much to be excited about, even with this bout of very disappointing news over the weekend.

Dennis Koulatsos  05:08

Yeah, that’s very true. Luke, I tell you one guy I’m enjoying watching is Anthony Santander. I think he’s hitting the ball real well. Well, he’s seen the ball well, and man Oh, man, he’s fun to watch.

Luke Jones  05:20

He is. He’s gonna be disappointed that the White Sox left town and the Orioles are heading out west because he had a phenomenal series against Chicago. And, you know, it wasn’t that long ago, he was dealing with a bad back. So even saw him after a game earlier in the homestand. Where he really, you know, he had I don’t know if it was Ben gay or what it was all over his back. I mean, you could tell he was really struggling physically. So they gave him a few days. He’s back to hitting the ball and hitting it well, and certainly, I mean, I think he’s, he’s probably not a guy that’s going to be around for the long haul, you know, when you just look at where you know, where he is age wise, where he is in terms of arbitration, considering the number of young outfielders the Orioles have in their system. But he’s such a great story, in the sense that this was a Rule five pick back in 2017. So he was around for the end of the Buck show alter Dan do cat era. And you look at how he profiled then he always had some pop in the back. There was no, never a question about that. But the big question for me, and it’s not unique to what we’ve talked about with Ryan mountcastle Until recently with mountcastle, having hit so well and perform so well since the all star break. But he was always a guy that was just a free swinger wouldn’t draw walks, you know, I think, up until a couple years ago, had a career to 90 on base percentage, I mean, just was a free swinger. And he’s the kind of guy that when he’s swinging the bat really well, you like him, otherwise, he’s not doing a whole lot to help you. And he’s really, at the major league level, improved his plate discipline improved his swing decisions. He’s now someone that has an ability to draw walks. I mean, he had a home run the other night, what was it on an 11? Pitch it bad? I think it was. He just, you know, he puts together good at bats, and he has a plan up there. And he has a much better idea, the strike so and then he did three, four or five years ago. So it really is a compliment to him. And it’s funny, because, you know, we’re not talking about someone who’s 35 years old. I mean, he’s in his late 20s. But you know, you view him as one of the elder statesman on this club, and certainly on the offensive side of things. So he’s been a big part of what they’ve done for a few years now. And, again, what happens in the future with him and what happens this offseason, and you know, where the Orioles might decide to go in the outfield, just in general, remains to be seen. But Anthony Santander has been huge for them of late. And really, he’s, he’s been one of their best players over the last few years and the improvement he’s made at the major league level, which by the way, Dennis is unique, you know that that’s not something from an on base ability standpoint, that’s typically not a skill you see guys improve on dramatically at the major league level. But he’s been able to do that and it’s a real credit to his work ethic and his abilities. Look,

Dennis Koulatsos  08:16

what about the Orioles? Six man rotation? Right? That’s a bit a typical as a nod, and it seemed like it’s working very well for them.

Luke Jones  08:24

It is, I mean, it’s, it’s something that ideally, you don’t really like it from the standpoint of you have, you know, a lot of teams struggle to have five quality starters. So then you’re throwing a six into the conversation. So that’s why you don’t see it too often. But from a standpoint of where the Oreos stand with Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle radish, Dean Kramer, and let’s even mention Tyler Wells, who of course, went to the minors is going to come back as a reliever, but innings were concerned for him. All of these individuals have either already set career highs in innings or they’re blowing past it, you know, they’re they’re gonna finish the year well beyond what their career high was. So you get into a position where you say, all right, how much is too much in that regard. And, you know, we just spent a couple minutes talking about Felix Batista, we know pitching, pitcher health is a major concern, and you’re always trying to do what’s best for the player, you’re trying to do what’s best for your club. But in the Orioles case, you certainly don’t want to don’t want to be in a position where you’re shutting any of the any of these guys down just because while they did pitch too many innings, you know, it will shut them down. And that’s that, of course, they’re not going to do that, you know, they’re going to be playing in October. So the six man rotation was something that they decided to do that it spaces out, you know, there’s an extra day in between there starts so you get them a little extra rest. It’s, you know, if you play it out, and they’ve done it since one early August, you play it out over the course of a couple of months, it adds up to fewer starts for each individual so it keeps your workload in check a little bit more. So I think you look at how great Some Rodriguez’s pitch to you look at how Bradish is pitched. I think it’s been really good for Dean Kramer, who has pitched really, really well as pitched at a high level. You know, we can debate, you know, is there some negative to that? I mean, on the flip side, Kyle Gibson, who was a veteran, and doesn’t have any workload concerns, but extra day in between his starts. August was his worst month of the season. So you know, I now let’s be clear, Kyle Gibson is, is what he is, you know, he’s kind of a career, you know, sub five, high four era kind of starting pitcher and the Orioles knew that when they got him. So, you know, I don’t think the necessarily it’s all about the six man rotation. But you know, you do wonder about that. But I think what’s interesting for the Orioles now, as we get into September is, what is that? And we’re going to start thinking more and more about what their postseason starting rotation is going to look like. If you’re talking about a short series, like the wild card round, for example, or it’s only three games anyway, so three guys, but you get into the divisional round. You get into the ALCS, you get into the World Series, you’re talking about a four man rotation. To me right now, if you asked me what my postseason rotation is, Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez, I’m feeling really good about Dean Kramer. After that. That fourth spot for me is wide open right now, you know, I think some people would tend to say Kyle Gibson because of the experience factor, but I’m willing to use that as a tiebreaker. But I’m not willing to just give him a spot if he’s not pitching. Well, Jack Flaherty who we know they got at the trade deadline, that’s been, he’s been a disappointment. So we’re gonna have to see he’s got the pitch well, over the final month to be on the postseason roster, let alone talking about the rotation. You know, Corbin might be your fourth starter right now in the postseason, because he’s pitched pretty well. But I’m gonna throw out the name that I think everyone’s been waiting to kind of hear about and see what happens. John means is very close at this point to coming back and being activated from the IOL. He’s gone through a minor league rehab assignment. He threw, I think it was right around 75 pitches in his last start. So keep we’re gonna see him in September. I caution everyone temper your expectations. You’re talking about someone coming back from Tommy John surgery last year. John means has Knepper pitched in a competitive environment like what the Orioles find themselves in now. I mean, keep in mind, he last pitch for the Orioles in April of last season. You know, when the Orioles, everyone just assumed they were still really bad, right? Even though they ended up being pretty good over the course of the second half of last season. So there’s the physical element to it. There’s the element of these games having much more riding on them much more stress much more, just the stakes being higher. But when you consider whether rotation is right now with Gibson and Flaherty struggling, co Ervin, not being a guarantee of anything, even though he’s pitched well, to his credit, and the other three guys all being younger guys that you’re trying to manage their workload, John meets is going to have every opportunity to show what he can do at this point in time in September of 2023. And I’m not going to sit here and guarantee or assume he’s going to pitch well enough to put himself in that conversation. But it’s not an incredibly high bar for him to clear to think that that it’s not possible that he can be part of their postseason plans in terms of whether it’s as a starter whether it’s maybe coming out of the bullpen and given them some innings in that regard. So you know for me I’m gonna be watching him very closely you know, I assume we’re going to see him might be wanting you might have a little more you know, one more start to go in the minors I haven’t heard officially one way or the other on that but we’re gonna see him and when you have a couple guys struggling in a six man rotation to go back to your original question let’s see what John means can do and boy if he can be anything close to what he was pre Tommy John surgery, that’s a really nice piece to add to your starting rotation and to your pitching staff. So I’m very much looking forward to seeing what John means can do of course coming back from Tommy John surgery as what he’s what 16 months removed from that so very much rootin for him and I know the the organization’s excited to see what where he is.

Dennis Koulatsos  14:18

Now. They’re exciting time to Camden Yards for sure. Look, not only that I go Tuesday also when Sunday so I’ve been to about 10 games this year, which is the most I’ve ever been to and the enthusiasm is there. I know that jersey sales are through the roof, the that city connect the jersey, you can’t find that anywhere. So it’s things are trending very, very well for the Baltimore Orioles.

Luke Jones  14:40

Yeah, everything on the field is great, you know, then we talk about ownership. And

Dennis Koulatsos  14:46

we’ll leave it at that. Yeah, that’s fine. Right, right. Positive.

Luke Jones  14:49

Right. Right. And I’m not trying to belabor that point, but it really just shows it shows the contrast and how great things are on the field yet off the field. You’re kind of like wow, if you can just get some on that positive Mojo on the field to talk about ownership or the lease or extending some of these young players, you’d feel so much better about things. But it has been so much fun on the field. And it really it’s such a credit to Mike Elias and baseball operations with the front office. It’s a credit to Brandon Hyde and his coaching staff and it’s especially a credit to these young players. I mean, it’s just, they’ve been so fun to watch. I mean, you’re talking about a team that’s already clinched a winning season. You know, they’re 33 games over 500 as they begin this West Coast trip, you know, they go to Arizona. Diamondbacks have a lot to play for so be a big series of over the weekend and at the angels, the angels have completely fallen apart. Shohei Otani elbow injury himself as we were talking about Felix Batista a little bit ago, and then you go to Boston for the final leg of it, but you know, it before too long, they’ll be coming back. They’ll have a quick series with St. Louis. And then they have a four game set with Tampa Bay and mid September that is just going to be enormous. So I

Dennis Koulatsos  16:05

have my tickets already for that series. Absolutely.

Luke Jones  16:07

Now that the Friday night game, Adam Jones is going to retire as an Oriole and you got a big four game set in mid September. So while there’s plenty of excitement, I’m sure you and I will get to the Ravens here in a moment but plenty of excitement for that September 10 opener, but wow, just a few days after that the rays come to town and the way this race has gone where it you know, the Orioles have been up a game two games as much as three games but just based on how this is going to go. Barring something really strange from the Orioles or the rays. That series is just going to be absolutely enormous as it pertains to deciding the Al East Division Championship. Yeah, I

Dennis Koulatsos  16:43

have tickets for the Thursday game, which I think is the 14th I’m going to Miss Adams is induction but it’s gonna be a lot of fun. And with that let’s segue to the Baltimore Ravens. They’ve been very busy with the rounding up the roster, you had the cuts, some surprises in there some not not surprising things but now look at the teams can carry up to 16 players in the practice squad and carry 53 You’re talking 69 players. That’s a lot of player to juggle isn’t it?

Luke Jones  17:15

Yeah, it is. And I mean, this was a very as it pertains to drama as it pertains to surprises. very underwhelming, right. I mean, I think other than probably Malik Hamm, you know, the Baltimore kid, which is a great story, making the team as an undrafted, free agent, although I think there’s a decent chance we could see him on IR you know, at least early in the season, you know, he’s been dealing with an injury and they’re going to need the roster spots, you know, as they try to get, you know, Brian Orban back on the roster, c’mon Seymour back on the roster. Sounds like they want Josh Johnson back on the roster, because we know Huntleys dealing with a hamstring right now. But other than that, if you had told me, Dennis, back on July 28, that this would be the 53 man roster, I would have said, Okay. I would have said I’m not really surprised by that, you know, Keith Mitchell, I think was the guy that we said all along of the rookie free agents that probably had the best chance to make the 53 man roster. And he’s banged up to there’s probably a decent chance he lands on IR to start the season as he’s dealing with a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for a week or two now, but it’s been about what we expected. And that’s why I always caution during throughout training camp, I say, look, the observations are great. I do my 12 ravens thoughts of Baltimore I have a lot of fun with that. But I always want readers and listeners to understand that what happens in the day to day over the course of the summer. Typically isn’t that consequential beyond just the preparation they’re putting in to play games that matters. So yeah, there’s always someone that will come and surprise me and I mentioned the rookie free agents. If there’s one guy, and you know, I said this, I’d left this out. There’s one guy who did really change his fortunes this summer to me, it was our Darius Washington who played so well. He was someone who benefited from some of the other injuries that corner where he played so well at the nickel that, you know, I’m thinking he’s, yeah, he’s gonna get first crack at that nickel spot. You know, I think they’re gonna mix and match a little bit. I think it will depend on matchups, because he is five foot 878 pounds or whatever he is. So if you have a team that uses their tight end like the Ravens use Mark Andrews in the slot, you know, I don’t think you’re gonna see our Darius Washington matching up with a player like that. But he is someone who enter training camp certainly is a guy you viewed as being on the bubble. And by the end of summer, he was a roster lock with the way that he played so but at the same time, he’s got to carry it over to the regular season. You know, we’ve seen guys that play so well over the summer than they get to the regular season and doesn’t translate or on the flip side, some guys who didn’t play so well during the preseason, and they turned it on once you know they Get to the regular season and you’re hoping David a job. Oh, could be someone like that, because let’s face it a job Oh, very underwhelming summer. I mean he was he played into the third quarter against the Buccaneers in that last preseason game. And that’s not a sign of someone that you’re overly high on, if you’re having a play there. So not to say that you’re burying him or that he’s a bust or anything like that, but you would have liked to have seen more from him, especially at the times where he was going up against backups and guys, second and third team guys. So but again, you go back to summer is about preparing for the regular season. They’re getting ready now to kick it off for real you know, as you and I talk next week, we’ll be we’ll be eyeball deep talking about the Houston Texans and CJ Stroud and everything that that goes with a week one season opener, but I think, yeah, as it pertains to the roster right now, you just said it, it’s not just the 53 You got a 16 man practice squad, I think, as it stood just a day or two after roster cuts, 15 of those 16 spots were devoted the guys that were with the team in the summer. So, you know, it really gets to a point where, you know, who are you really missing out on you know, Kyle, you Kelly, they cut, you know, their fifth round rookie, which I think people were surprised or disappointed about just because the the state of the cornerback position. But I remember you and I talked in a couple of weeks ago, the fact that KU Kelly didn’t play until deep into the first preseason game, you saw some of the other corners that were on the field before him, you know, guys that didn’t make the team, mind you. It was a sign that, you know, he wasn’t impressing the coaching staff now, maybe he’ll go to Seattle. And maybe that’ll be one that got away for the Ravens. But, you know, they clearly thought he was a guy that they could sneak through waivers and try to get on the practice squad. It didn’t work out. You know, at the end of the day, most of those scenarios, most of those players we talk about every year, very few ever amount to anything. I mean, here’s a perfect example I at this time last year, people were talking about the Ravens letting go of Isaiah Mack. Yeah, the defensive lineman, he’s been with a few other teams since then, you know, he certainly hasn’t made his mark somewhere else. And that’s not a knock on him. It’s just a reminder of how this process really works. So many guys that you’re afraid of losing on waivers. One most guys, you know, there aren’t that many waiver claims. Typically when you look around the league, and even even if you lose someone more often than not, yes, I understand people will throw out. Hey, what about James Harrison, he was a raven. And look what he ended up being for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ll give you that one. But for every James Harrison, there are probably a couple dozen guys you can point to and say really didn’t matter in the big picture. So you know where the roster stands right now. It’s going to change between now and week one, at least a little bit. And we know it will certainly change plenty over the course of a season because of injuries, attrition guys being effective or not other players becoming available elsewhere that you want to bring into your program. So you know we’ll see how it plays out. But overall, not anything earth shattering certainly nothing that was stunning to me. From a roster cut standpoint.

Dennis Koulatsos  23:12

Coach Harbaugh announced that John Simpson locked down the left guard spot and there was speaking about the offensive line. There was some speculation about Ben Cleveland status. He plays some tackle though I guess he played relatively well, except the one played where he got posterized by Eagles number one draft pick. But that aside, he showed some versatility and the Ravens don’t have a history of moving too quickly. Particularly from third round draft picks fifth round draft picks, like like Kelly Okay, yeah, but with Ben looks like you’re going to be part of the team in the future.

Luke Jones  23:49

Yeah, it sure looks that way. And I’ll tell you why. I really think he ultimately made it one what you just said I mean, he obviously he had he had the Posterize the victimized video that went viral on Twitter and everything well on the really bad rep. But overall, he didn’t play that poorly in the preseason. But I think this really comes down to this. Dennis, you just mentioned John Simpson winning the left guard spot. Well, who did he win it over? Big Salah, the sixth round rookie. If anyone watched big solid the last couple of weeks, really struggled. That really, really struggled. I mean, he was it was kind of a nightmare. Like it was kind of disaster struggle against Tampa Bay in that last preseason games. So they like him. But I said it to a couple couple other reporters. If you didn’t know anything about big solid, whether he was a draft pick or that he was he began camp as the starting left guard. If you just saw his performance against the box, you would probably say he doesn’t belong on the 53 man roster. That’s how bad it was. So I think where this really stems is, you know, Ben Cleveland, he had a perfectly fine summer. You know, he wasn’t great. He wasn’t bad either. I think he was you kind of what we’ve seen from Ben Cleveland over his first couple years some good and some not so good. One thing that John Harbaugh did talk about this week that I will give credit to Cleveland for is he stayed on the practice field. The last couple of years, he had had nagging injuries that kept him off, you know, on and off the practice field and Harbaugh’s talked about it a lot, especially with offensive linemen that time on task that you need to really develop as a player. So he stayed on the field, but I really think this came down to okay, you have John Simpson at left guard, you have Kevin Zeitler at right guard, if something happens to one of those guys, I’m not sure they saw enough from Sala to say that he’s going to be their primary backup guard whereas I think with Ben Cleveland even if he hasn’t blossomed into the starting caliber player that they envisioned when they drafted him two years ago. I think they saw good enough performance to say I think we want him as our primary backup guard you know, but because you kind of look at it their their their swing tackle, you know, they have Patrick Macquarie and obviously they have fall a lay probably more so for the right side you know if something happens Morgan Moses center you know, they have Macquarie who can play center on game day they got Sam must refer back to the practice squad and they can obviously use him if something happens to Linder bomb where he misses a couple of weeks, but it guard you know, okay, Patrick McHenry has played there a little bit before, but he’s not really what you’re looking for in terms of size, and you know what his best fit is? So I think it was a case where they just Salah struggled so much over the last couple games in the preseason. Ben Cleveland played better. And I think they still like Salah for the long term. You know, I think they still feel he can blossom into a starting caliber player eventually. But you still need depth, you need quality depth on your roster. So I think that’s probably the biggest reason why Ben Cleveland stuck around. But to your point, again, the one highlight play that was a low light for him aside. He had a pretty solid summer overall. And I think a big part of that was he finally showed some durability, some ability to stay on the practice field, which allowed him to make some gains over the course of the summer.

Dennis Koulatsos  27:10

Yeah, there’s no doubt about that. Big body guide. So hopefully he figured out that we’ve seen but we have seen, especially with Joe Delos Andrus, the offensive line coach, we’ve seen some of these linemen take some time to develop them power is the most recent example who parlayed a real solid season into a phenomenal contract with with the Denver Broncos. Right? So some plan that it takes, it takes a minute for the young guys for for all to come together physically, psychologically, emotionally, the whole nine yards.

Luke Jones  27:39

No question about it. I mean, Ben powers is the perfect example of that. I mean, if you look at Ben powers two years into his career, we’re reviewing him more, you know, in a better light than Ben Cleveland. Yeah, I think so. But probably not much better. You know, certainly, you know, after his first couple years, you, you wouldn’t have anticipated him getting the deal that he got from the Denver Broncos, which I think the Broncos overpaid for Ben powers. But hey, he played really well last year and give them credit, you know, he earned a big payday, whether it’s gonna be with the Ravens or someone else. So you’re right about that. And here’s the other reality, Dennis, and you see this, and there was a lot of chatter about this offensive line play around the league is just not very good. And it’s not very deep. So if you have a guy, as the Ravens do with Ben Cleveland, and believe me, there has been so much frustration with him. You know, he even has a reputation for a guy who has played better in games than he has in practice. But again, nagging injuries, inconsistent play. I think that the expectations, you know, they were really, if you recall, they were really excited about getting Ben Cleveland in the third round two years ago. So how much of it was that compared to? If it was just, you know, a detached look at Oh, he’s the highest player on our board, we’ll take him, you know, if you have that kind of a mindset with him, maybe you wouldn’t be quite as disappointed in how he’s performed at this point. But sometimes it does take a couple years. I mean, that’s absolutely the truth. I mean, you know, look at a look at Bradley Bozeman. Matt Scarah, was a guy that, you know, was was undrafted and ended up you know, before he had the really bad knee injury. You know, he was a solid starter for the Ravens for a year or two, you know, I mean, so, Joe Dallas Sanders does have a lot of success stories. I mean, yeah, you know, when you have a Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, or you assigned to Kevin Zeitler, or Morgan Moses, Joe D doesn’t have a whole lot of catching up to do there other than just some tweaks here and there. But when you are talking about some of these linemen, whether you’re talking about a day two guy a day three guy, or an undrafted, you know an undrafted rookie as the Ravens have look like a Tristan cologne, for example, you know, who ultimately developed into a solid backup player for a couple years. You know, it takes some time and you got to develop these guys. So, you know, we’ll see how it plays out. But, again, I do think the Ben Cleveland decision probably was more about how their sixth round rookie struggled so dramatically more so than then Cleveland knocking their socks off, but I do think he had a solid summer. And I think they felt that something happens to Simpson, or to Kevin Zeitler. At least right now, now, Week Six or week 13. That could be a different story, but at least right now, you probably see Ben Cleveland going in there before you’d see big Salah

Dennis Koulatsos  30:25

and Sam Lucifer, a bear fan. I like Bears fan because they’re very honest. They were very upset when they lost Smith. But they weren’t upset when a loss was different. I’m not saying it disrespectfully just said he just not you know, he’s just not a great player. So that aside, how about asking you some last pick right Zach sealer got an extension from the dolphins 38,000,020 have a guaranteed for three years. happy for him, the young man also happy for for Ozzie Newsome,

Luke Jones  30:53

no question about it. I mean, it just speaks to how remarkable that 2018 draft class was. And it’s still wild to think that Hayden hearse was the first guy they drafted that year. And that’s the pick that you look at and say, Well, that didn’t really work out. And Hayden Hurst is what on his third. He’ll be on what his fourth different team this year, I think fourth or fifth. And I’m trying to think off the top of my

Dennis Koulatsos  31:16

head solid player. He’s not he’s a good player. You’re not great. Yeah.

Luke Jones  31:19

I mean, he’s fine.

Dennis Koulatsos  31:20

He’s fine. But the point is, he didn’t. He didn’t play his draft position. That’s for sure.

Luke Jones  31:25

Right, right. I mean, that’s the thing. You look at the rest of that draft class, and it’s just like, wow, you know, I mean, it really is impressive with a wild class early wise. Yeah. So I’m sure Ozzie Newsome saw that saw that Zach sealer got that deal and probably had a smile. It’s a good you know, that that’s him. And it’s one of those deals and this is where I’ll even go back to KU Kelly, you know, because the Ravens cut him in look, is it a great look for Eric to caster that. Considering the need at cornerback and the current state of the cornerback position? It’s not a great look that guy you Kelly can make the team Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s okay to say that, you know, it’s okay to utter a little bit of criticism. But it really it but it does speak to when you talk about someone like a sealer that sometimes you just don’t have room for everyone. That’s why I think I said this to you last week talking about Travis Vocollect, you know, and a lot of Ravens fans were worried about him getting snatched up somewhere else and he cleared waivers made it to the practice, squad. But I think the point that I made was, but you know what? He doesn’t have a path to playing time here. There’s Mark Andrus, there’s Isaiah likely there’s Charlie Kohler and you got all these wide receivers that, you know, the Ravens have a better wide receiver room. So in the case of someone like him, if he gets a job on a 53 man roster, good, you know, like that, that’s, that’s good for him. You know, you don’t need to horde players, like you want to have enough depth don’t get me wrong, but at the same time, if a guy has a better opportunity elsewhere, who are the Ravens or who are Ravens fans to say that you know, that he doesn’t deserve that shot elsewhere, you know, if he’s just gonna be sitting on the practice squad, you know, so that’s where if you Kelly, maybe he helps out to Seattle or, you know, what else can happen because this has happened as well, Dennis, he could end up getting cut in a week or two and he could wind up back on the Ravens practice squad that could happen as well. So, but anymore,

Dennis Koulatsos  33:17

we have Darius rush, the Colts fifth round draft pick out of South Carolina, he got cut. Let’s bring Darius over here to see if he’s a better fit with the Ravens told that fits sometimes that comfort, the coaching staff have player fields, sometimes God performed better or worse or differently in different circumstances.

Luke Jones  33:35

Yeah, no question about it. So, you know, I think just one thing that I would say, you know, just about the cornerback position, it is a little disappointing that, you know, KU Kelly didn’t make it. And I would also say because you look at where the cornerback position is right now for the Ravens. I mean, every single guy they have in that room as a question mark right now whether you’re talking about health questions for a rock Eocene, or Ronald Darby, whether you’re you know, whether you’re talking about questions, you know, c’mon, Seymour, like he had a nice summer and, you know, is that going to translate Brandon Stevens, you know, is he ready to, you know, be a starter for them potentially if he needs to be here early in the season. You know, in the case of our Darius Washington doesn’t carry over. Jalen Arbor Davis can’t stay on the field and hasn’t been all that great when he’s been on the field, you know, go down the list. You know, Pepe Williams can’t stay healthy. You got to be on IR to start the year. You know, you go down the list. There’s a lot of question marks. And that’s where you do look at the recent draft history. Basically, since drafting Marlon Humphrey, which by the way was six years ago now at this point in time that that wasn’t that recent. Since then, you know, their track record with corners hasn’t been great. Now, I’ll say this. It’s not as though they’ve drafted corners in the first or second round. So some of that is you get what you pay for, you know, in terms of where you’re drafting these guys, but it would have been nice out of, you know, you go down the list of Anthony Averitt Aman ma Marshall, Jaylen armour Davis to Marion Williams KU Kelly, Brandon Stevens, the jury’s still out on you know, he he’s at least to me proven to be some solid depth, you know, even if no better than that. But the point is not not a whole lot of hits in that group that I just mentioned to this point. And that’s where the Ravens kind of find themselves right now. You’re kind of holding your breath at that position at least until Marlon gets back you know, once Humphries back and shows he’s healthy, you know, you, you’d like to think out of all those names, someone will emerge to be a solid, you know, outside corner opposite of him, but it’s certainly a position of concern and especially when you couple it with the past rush and the questions there, you know, Tyus Bowser, out until at least week five now, so, you know, is always finally going to step forward. We mentioned a job Oh, d’Avignon. clowny Yeah, I liked the value signing, but at the same time, he’s also coming off the two sexes, and like, what are you going to get from him at age 30? I mean, it’s just it’s a fair question. You know, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be bad doesn’t mean you know, I certainly don’t expect them to be a 13 Sack kind of guy because he’s rarely been that guy anywhere in his career. You know, he’s he’s never lived up to number one overall, but you know, how solid can he be for you? So you know, when you look at corner and the pass rush, yeah, I can live with having concerns with one of those but right now, we have to admit there are concerns about both those areas right now so that’s where I say you know what they need Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton to be great at the safety position they need ro Quan Smith and Patrick queen to shut down the intermediate middle portion of the field. And you know, they’re gonna have they’re gonna need their defensive line just a matter became Broderick Washington and Michael Pierce Travis Jones to play at a really high level because yeah, you got some question right now as far as where’s the pass rush coming from and you know, quarterback play you don’t need you know, it’s not gonna be Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters from four years ago, but it needs to at least be can they get high floor kind of play from these guys just don’t get beat beat deep. You know, and I think Mike McDonald will protect those guys as much as they can. I expect you’re gonna see the Ravens playing a lot of zone early in the season and think that’s just going to be out of necessity.

Dennis Koulatsos  37:14

Now I like Mike McCalla scheme a lot better than winks I mean, wink used to leave corners on islands and with the speedypc were these days I think we’re just asking for trouble. Hard to cover those guys one on ones to do like I’d rather bleeding paper cuts rather than have these guys scoring 17 at a chunk plays. But with that said, I didn’t like what what do they even claim they wanted to interview them. And he was talking about miles carried and how the team would line them up against the the other team’s worst offensive tackle. Well, he had a call strategy. Same thing. So he was complaining about going up against the other team best tackle. But yeah, you want to put your worst up against their worst. I think it doesn’t make sense but it’s nice to see him have a good attitude and the team chemistry seems to be very good right now. Luke, they’re they’re loose. Everybody’s paid. Lamar is paid. JK Dobbins. Look, he’s practicing Patrick. Queen is their quiet just making plays, etc. So they’re cutting it up. I saw there’s a flowers revelation of a signing bonus and Odell Beckham his reaction to it. So this team as they head to the opener leaves, they seem to be loose, confident, and relatively healthy.

Luke Jones  38:26

Yeah, I mean, I don’t think you can ask for much better than that. I mean, they’ve also been, you know, there have been times this time of year where you’ve all you’ve already lost a couple guys for the season. And you’re dealing with some of that, or you’re dealing with the Lamar Jackson contract drama as they were last year and even the year before that to a degree. So from that standpoint, look, it’s easy to feel good when you haven’t played any games yet, right? I mean, every team, not every team, let’s say but a lot of teams around the league, even teams that are going to be very good, are feeling better about themselves right now than they will even come for fifth teen on week one, right, you know, after they’ve lost their first game. But But you’re right, I think where the Ravens stand now, even with acknowledging some concern at corner, and with the pass rush, you know, even acknowledging some unknown with this offense. I mean, it looks good on paper, but until you go out and actually see what it looks like, you know, we’ve talked about it. I mean, we you and I’ve talked about this for the better part of a couple years, in terms of Lamar Jackson and the Greg Roman offense, you know, is it the chicken or the egg? Was it Lamar being held back by that offense? Or was that offense augmenting what Lamar does best? And kind of hiding and mitigating the things he doesn’t do as well? We’re gonna find out and that’s a good thing. You’re right. That’s a good thing. So, you know, everyone talks about the high ceiling and lock that this offense has a higher ceiling than it’s had over the last few years. There’s no question about that. I mean, that’s the captain obvious statement. But I will continue to go back because I I also think it’s patently unfair to just make Greg Roman the bad guy over this offensive. I’m not suggesting you, Dennis. But you know, just the way you hear fans and people talk about the Ravens offense last few years, that Greg Roman offense also had a really high floor too. And you know, that running game was in your pocket that you, you know, you could run for a buck 50 to 100 yards every single week. And that’s gonna win you a heck of a lot of football games over the course of a season. However, it’s all about January for this team, getting back to the playoffs, and not just getting there. But having your absolute best shot to play deep into January and get to a Super Bowl, at least get to an AFC Championship game for the first time in over a decade. So long way to go between now and then of course, and health is a big part of that, beginning with number eight himself. All this all this talk about Tyler Huntley or Josh Johnson, which, you know, we’ve talked about because it was one of the training camp battles. I’m hoping we don’t have to utter their name again, the rest of the year, because if we, if that’s the case, then that means large actions on the field every week. It begins with with Jackson’s health, you know, that’s paramount, you know, we can talk about Todd Monken, or Odell Beckham or ze flowers until we’re blue in the face of large if Lamar Jackson’s missing games in December in January, again, this team’s not going, they’re going nowhere. So, but that said, there is a lot of excitement to see what this is going to look like. And I think at this point in time, there are no more excuses for Lamar Jackson, or anyone on this offense. You know, Lamar, yeah, he’s a quarterback, and he’s the highest paid player on the team. And he’s a superstar. So yeah, the spotlight is going to be on him. But everything should be in place now for this offense to be its absolute best version of itself. And we’ll see what that looks like exactly, is it going to be wide open chucking the ball 50 times a game, I don’t think it’s going to be that extreme. But they are going to throw the ball more than they have in the past, and you hope because of the weapons they have. And let’s not forget about Mark Andrews, who I’ll continue to say, is still their number one true number one receiver until proven otherwise, because that’s how good of a player he is and how special the report he has with Lamar Jackson is. But they’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of talent. And, you know, they say it a lot. This has become cliche, because it’s feels like one of the talking points that just has been beaten into the ground. But, you know, they’ve said the sky’s the limit for this offense. I mean, they have a much higher ceiling than they’ve ever had under Greg Rome and because of the past catching talent that they have on this roster now on paper, so, gotta stay healthy. They’ve got to go out and do it. And we’ll get our first glimpse of that here in just over a week when they kick off against the Houston Texans.

Dennis Koulatsos  42:46

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting ro Quan Smith like changed my number 18 jersey. I didn’t tell him was Elvis quarterbacks his jersey that led them to the back of it. But no, I exchanged my jersey for the number zero but he was there. Really, really just a genuine guy. He took a lot of time with the kids a bunch of kids that were there too. In fact, one little one said, Are you any good at football and he kind of chuckled at that, that that one got me but what he did for charity. And again, as mean as he gets on the field, he’s just as nice off the field was really nice beating him.

Luke Jones  43:22

Yeah, no question about it. And I mean, he’s only been around for half a season so I haven’t had too many one on one conversations with him but it was it was interesting to see him do that jersey exchange because I asked him at the end of last season because I’d gotten the question a lot from fans because you know, he had number 18 which is not a typical linebacker jersey number and my goodness, I mean, the jersey numbers are seeing guys where now I mean all that all that we used to know is out the window basically but he said at the time that he planned to keep number 18 And you know wanted to do that for fans who had already bought his jersey so when I heard he was changing to number zero then in the spring I was just like, You know what I mean ro Quan I you can go back and find the tweet, I tweeted it out even so for him to do what he did this this past weekend. It’s a pretty cool move. You know, and it’s also a reminder I tell fans all the time at this point in time don’t buy a rookies Jersey just yet because how many rookies have we seen you know Patrick Queen changed his number Rashad Bateman change his number, you know, so, you know, Marquis brown changed his number you know, so you look at the recent first round picks it they’ve had to change their number, but pretty solid, good move from ro Quan Smith and you know, we’ve seen him be very active in the community and that’s what you want to see quite frankly. I mean look, not to say that he’s not deserving of the big contract that he got and look it’s it’s ultimately about what you do on the field but it says something for someone who is not you know, did not grow up here wasn’t born. Hear, sign that kind of contract and then you see how active an individual is becoming in the community. I’ve seen him with the jersey thing. I’ve seen him do some back to school program type things you know he had a camp this summer. So really cool to see ro Quan Smith involved the way he has and you know, everything I just talked about with the pass rush with the cornerback position, you know, those concerns on defense. You’re hoping that row Quan Smith, has that Ray Lewis kind of impact me? Yes, the 2000 defense was historic. And the 2006 defense was incredible as well. You know, when you look at some of the historical production, those specific defenses did had but there were other defenses during the Ray Lewis era that they had some weak links, so at different spots, but a player like him, and obviously, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ed Reed as well. Guys that were force multipliers. You know, I think ro Quan Smith is someone the Ravens view. Not that not to say that he’s as great as Ray Lewis or as great as Ed Reed because, you know, who is I mean, you’re talking about guys that are elite Hall of Famers even, you know, elite of the elite from the Hall of Fame perspective, but I think they feel and the reason why they gave him a $100 million contract is he’s the kind of guy that can bring out the best and not just Patrick queen, but other players on that defense. So you know, they’re gonna need a little bit of that early in the season when you consider you know, the numbers that outside linebacker and where they are at cornerback right now. So, but yeah, cool move from from row Quan Smith. And, you know, I I’m in full agreement with you my interaction interactions that I’ve had with him, to this point in time have been nothing but positive. And it’s a really impressive guy.

Dennis Koulatsos  46:45

Well, you know, the one thing about that 2000 defense, and I certainly can’t put the 2023 version of it in the same sentence with defense, but they I’m just writing down as I’m talking to you though, this defense does have a lot of number one draft picks. Just like the offense does row Quan. You got away. But yeah, but would it be the number one draft pick had an up into fours injury? Queen Hamilton Williams, Humphrey, maybe missing somebody, but that’s 34567 right there.

Luke Jones  47:16

Yeah, yeah. Marcus Williams. I think he was a second round. Okay,

Dennis Koulatsos  47:21

But your point is so I mean, the point is still well, right. These aren’t gold guys. Either. These guys are a lot of them with their best football ahead of them. So this is not saying that but they should be good. I don’t know about great, but this should be a very good defense.

Luke Jones  47:34

Oh, yeah. And let’s be clear, when I’m when I’m talking about the pass rush and the cornerback position or stood, I’m talking about the difference between being good and a chance to be elite. You know, those positions right now and again, when Marlon Humphrey comes back, you know, cornerback, if you’re in a position then where, hey, the best of rock you seen? Ronald Darby and Brandon, yeah, Brandon Stevens, I’ll just throw him in there for argument’s sake. Yeah, you know, one of those guys emerges and great, you know, then you’re in really good shape at corner. But yeah, what I was talking about is the difference between being a good defense and having a chance to be great. So they’re going to be to your point, there’s too much talent on that defense that, you know, I don’t think they’re going to be worse than good. No, I think they’re gonna be good. I think it’s gonna be a matter of what good means. Right? You know, and part of that is a good defense going up against Cincinnati. You know, that’s, you’re gonna have you’re gonna have a long day if you’re only good you know that that’s how talented that Bengals defense or that Bengals offensive.

Dennis Koulatsos  48:38

As one of the concerns remain, Luke the past rush and the health of the defensive backfield. Really it’s it’s one on one,

Luke Jones  48:44

no doubt, no doubt. And as we’ve also said, and we were we were talking about this even when wink defenses were playing at their best I mean week, we had one bad year. When, during wink, Barton dos tenure, they had one bad year and that was the year that they were ravaged by injuries to you know, they didn’t say that Marcus peers all year, Marlon Humphrey was done for the year by the end of that year. So, you know, it was just a matter of, Okay, it’s time for a fresh start and all that. But, you know, we still have said what, even if you have what’s considered a great defense in this day and age, if you’re going up against Kansas City, buffalo, Cincinnati, you know, forget about, you know, even talking about other talented teams in the AFC that maybe they’ll be in that conversation, but just those three because they’ve been there the last few years and specifically Kansas City, but also Buffalo and the Bengals. You can’t just have a great defense going up against those teams. What else do you need to have? You need to have an offense that can go punch the punch with those with those offensive teams. So that’s where I think you go back to really this comes down to all these questions about the past rush and their depth that corner right now. If this offense comes out out and can be as great as many think they can be. Those those problems on defense aren’t going to aren’t going to feel like a whole lot, you know, okay, maybe they won’t be leading the league in scoring defense or yards allowed or sacks or whatever category you want to talk about. But, you know, if their offense plays up to its potential, those concerns on defense aren’t going to feel like they’re that all that important, all that critical to their overall success. So, it comes back to, hey, Lamar Jackson. We just gave you a $260 million contract and Odell Beckham we gave you $15 million, even though you didn’t play last year and say flowers we just made you a first overall pick or first round pick, you know, JK Dobbins, you want to go out and get paid do you think you’re one of the best running backs in the NFL do it for 16 or 17 games you know, you go down the list of all those different guys all that talent on offense, it’s time to go out and do it and if they do that, and they play up to their capabilities and Todd Monken truly proves to be the kind of legit upgrade over Greg Roman you know, specifically in the passing game, you know, from a coaching standpoint, then any issues they have on defense aren’t gonna feel nearly as important look all

Dennis Koulatsos  51:14

these great stuff. Gonna be a great weekend. Orioles baseball leading up to the Ravens opener please tell our listeners all the great stuff you do a W NS T Baltimore positive you blog, tech service and everything else.

Luke Jones  51:29

Absolutely. I encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter at wn st can follow me personally at Baltimore Luke. Check out my blog at Baltimore sponsored by coons for to Baltimore. My latest 12 ravens thoughts roster breakdown practice squad additions, Orioles roster additions as we get to September 1 and the rosters expand by a couple spots we’ll see who gets gets those spots. But you can check out my blog at Baltimore You want to be on that wn st Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by coons for to Baltimore. If you are you got the Ravens notable roster cuts you will get notable Orioles or ravens roster additions any potential trade the Ravens might make at some point I mean, not saying that that’s imminent, but you never know it’s happened before this time of year. Any significant local sports news sent directly to your mobile device via the wn S T Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by coons for to Baltimore, and of course anything throughout the week on am 1570 with Nestor, any ravens players and coaches interviews from Owings Mills, Orioles players and coaches interviews from Oriole Park at Camden Yards you can check out all of that at Baltimore

Dennis Koulatsos  52:36

Look I was a pleasure having you on my friend keep doing great things enjoy the weekend hopefully good weather. And we’ll we’ll come back and we’ll talk about the opener right it’s gonna be their big story. In addition to seen where the Orioles will be positionally speaking against the rays one week from today.

Luke Jones  52:53

Absolutely. We will have much to talk about. Enjoy your labor day weekend. Dennis. I watched some college football our last weekend have NFL free weekend for a long time which is music to the ears of plenty of football fans. So enjoy that and enjoy watching the Orioles out on the West Coast and we’ll reconvene next week and we’ll talk about how the ravens are gonna get a win against those mighty Houston Texans.

Dennis Koulatsos  53:20

Slap sounds like a plan there he goes Luke Joe to your 1570 Am wn S T we’ll take a quick break and come back right after this

- Advertisement -