Friday, September 30, 2022

Twelve Ravens thoughts ahead of preseason finale against Washington

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

With the Ravens counting down to their 2022 preseason finale against Washington on Saturday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Speaking publicly for the first time since the end of last season, Chuck Clark confirmed his offseason trade request after Baltimore drafted Kyle Hamilton, but he remains a total pro. Asked why he attended spring workouts, Clark said, “I wasn’t just going to give away my spot.” That still applies.

2. In the process of showing candor and class discussing his offseason feelings, Clark revealed Marcus Peters registered an interception in returning to full-team drills this week, a promising sign for his Week 1 availability. “We can’t wait to have him back out here in full and going with us.”

3. As the Ravens approach single-digit workdays until Week 1, Ronnie Stanley still isn’t practicing. That doesn’t mean he can’t be ready sometime very soon, but he’s 10 months removed from his third ankle surgery and has played in one game over the last 22 months. If not now, then when?

4. In the meantime, the spotlight on Ja’Wuan James becomes brighter with Greg Roman acknowledging the career right tackle has “a couple little tweaks that he’s got to make” at left tackle. Even if James does a respectable job, there’s no replacing someone in which Baltimore invested a $98.75 million contract.

5. Based on the timing of his Achilles injury in January, Tyus Bowser still not being on the practice field isn’t surprising, but his potential early-season absence puts a very thin outside linebacker group in a precarious spot. That’s why I’ve been surprised to see Odafe Oweh play in the preseason.

6. John Harbaugh said Thursday that Tyler Linderbaum has “looked good” in his return to practice, but he added that you “don’t want to overdo it” with him returning from the foot injury. That wouldn’t seem to bode well for his chances of playing Saturday, which would be understandable.

7. Opinions differ about the left guard competition, but I still suspect the Ravens are giving Ben Powers the starter treatment in preseason games while playing him some at right guard in place of Kevin Zeitler and at center to evaluate some “what if” in-game injury scenarios. We’ll see.

8. Though Harbaugh didn’t rule out the young players who’ve missed practices this week, Ben Cleveland and Daniel Faalele would benefit from seeing extensive snaps against Washington. It could be their last chance to see meaningful game action for a while, and their absence would leave Saturday’s offensive line numbers light.

9. Harbaugh downplayed it as “nothing serious,” but Kyle Hamilton exited Thursday’s practice with an undisclosed issue. The first-round rookie safety has played through some physical challenges this summer, so we’ll see if this jeopardizes his availability for Saturday night.

10. Sunday’s Arizona game represented an important hurdle for Nick Boyle, whose 21 snaps were the most he’s played in a game since his 2021 debut last November. It’s still fair to wonder how he’ll hold up over a full season, but Boyle is clearly in a better place physically now.

11. Eric DeCosta has no shortage of veterans who would likely agree to a handshake agreement to be cut and re-signed in order to facilitate leaving an injured player like Charlie Kolar on the initial 53-man roster, a requirement to maintain eligibility to return from injured reserve. That’s a formality.

12. The Ravens are billing Saturday’s preseason finale as “Kids’ Night,” and these exhibition games are indeed a friendlier environment for youngsters compared to the intensity of a regular-season crowd. Still, it’s a tough sell getting kids — or anyone else — excited when Lamar Jackson and other stars aren’t playing.

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