With the Ravens turning in another strong preseason performance in a 24-17 victory at Arizona on Sunday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. If you’re attempting to gauge whether a rookie will make an immediate impact when it counts, he should shine in preseason games absent most starters. In 15 snaps, Isaiah Likely caught all eight of his targets for a touchdown and 100 yards, much of that coming after the catch. Wow.
2. Even if Tyler Huntley doesn’t always push the ball downfield as much as you’d prefer, he’s gone 29-for-32 with two touchdowns and a 118.5 passer rating in two preseason contests. He’s clearly learned from his starting opportunities late last season. That throw across his body was particularly impressive, albeit risky.
3. In watching Odafe Oweh be disruptive over 14 snaps, I concluded he was ready and needed to exit the game as soon as possible. Even acknowledging the light numbers at outside linebacker, Baltimore is pushing it too much with him compared to others who have been sitting out completely.
4. It was that thinking that made me cringe seeing Travis Jones get rolled up in the fourth quarter. Rookies benefit from preseason action to get acclimated to the NFL, but the ones projected to play right away probably aren’t getting enough out of fourth-quarter reps to prolong the injury risk.
5. We’re reading left guard tea leaves with Tyre Phillips starting there and Ben Powers starting at right guard for Kevin Zeitler. If Phillips is the favorite as some believe, why play him deep into the game and continue to give Powers most of the first-team practice reps like we’ve seen?
6. There’s no questioning the physicality of Malik Harrison with a couple punishing hits at the goal line. He finished with four tackles and a half-sack and has elevated his stock, but I’m still intrigued to see him play more at the Sam linebacker spot.
7. It wasn’t a good night for Brandon Stephens, who was penalized twice and didn’t look particularly confident in coverage. The second-year defensive back has mostly practiced at cornerback this offseason after transitioning from safety, so more live-game reps should be valuable.
8. Tyler Badie made a few nice cuts and caught a 3-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, but I suspect his blitz pickup on Anthony Brown’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Raleigh Webb will be the contribution coaches appreciate the most. That’s how a young running back earns more opportunities.
9. Missing tackles on consecutive plays — a 48-yard kickoff return and a swing pass that went for a first down — wasn’t a good look for Tony Jefferson, who’s vying for a fifth safety spot that may not be there. Given Stephens’ versatility, is Baltimore better off keeping an additional cornerback instead?
10. I was fine with the Ravens taking a delay of game near midfield to give rookie Jordan Stout a chance to punt one inside the 5, which he did beautifully. However, the Cardinals having veteran Matt Prater kick a 21-yard field goal on fourth-and-goal was as lame as it gets.
11. Fans didn’t have positive things to say about the FOX broadcast trying to sell a game featuring few starters from either team. I rolled my eyes hearing the broadcast team insist how much the preseason win streak means to John Harbaugh, who rested 18 projected starters. I did enjoy this:
12. Those complaints aside, Sunday was a great night for Baltimore sports fans with both the Ravens and Orioles playing on national TV and winning. Even former Mount St. Joseph star Kyle Fuller got into the act with a first-quarter interception. It’s a blast when both teams are good.