The Baltimore Ravens released their first depth chart for the 2018 NFL regular season on Tuesday as they prepare to face the Buffalo Bills in their season opener. Head coach John Harbaugh opened his Monday press conference saying, "It's upon us. Everything that we've done up to this point, from a work standpoint, is behind us... It's what we stand on, and it's our launching point, so we're ready to go."
While the Bills are going to stick with Nathan Peterman as their quarterback, Harbaugh wasn't as forthcoming on who might play behind Joe Flacco, or whether they'd dress three quarterbacks for the game. "From a team standpoint, you can look at it any kind of a number of different ways," Harbaugh told the media. "Any given Sunday, we'll have the 46 guys that give us the best chance to be successful, and we'll just see what that is every week." Rookie Lamar Jackson is reported to be given a few snaps against Buffalo, but Robert Griffin III has more experience and could offer the best backup option. That leads to a situation where the Ravens may have to dress all three and sacrifice a helmet for someone that could give them depth at another position.
When pressed by Jeff Zrebiec that there was a report that Griffin would be the backup, Harbaugh asked for the source. Zrebiec admitted he wasn't the author of the report, leading Harbaugh to say, "Was it sourced? I don't know. It's like the old song, 'I've been through the desert on a horse with no name.' I guess (the author) went through the article on a source with no name."
Nick Boyle will be the starting tight end with Maxx Williams at No. 2. Although Hayden Hurst had a nice training camp, he suffered a stress fracture that will force him to the sideline for a few weeks. Mark Andrews, a third-round selection, posted three catches for 61 yards during the preseason. Boyle, however, remains the Ravens' best blocking tight end and should earn the majority of the snaps with the Ravens offense this weekend.
The Ravens parted ways with receiver Breshad Perriman and listed Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown as their starting receivers. Asked if he thought the change of scenery might be a good thing for Perriman, Harbaugh said, "I'm hopeful for him. I want to see him do well."
Regardless, Harbaugh is more interested in how the receivers on the roster will serve the team. The Ravens are planning on utilizing Chris Moore over Snead as their kick returner; Janarion Grant as their punt returner. Snead will be their backup plan should Moore and Grant not work out. The Ravens also held onto Tim White via their practice squad. "I'm really glad that we still have Tim White in the building - that's a big [thing]," Harbaugh told the media. "We have (Grant and White) both, and that's the takeaway there...they both bring a lot to the table, and they both have upside."
One of the hottest camp competitions for Baltimore was between Patrick Onwuasor and Kenny Young at inside linebacker. While both kept the battle heated-up, Young suffered a knee injury in the Ravens' final preseason game against the Washington Redskins and may miss Week 1. His status, per Harbaugh, is "day-to-day". So C.J. Mosley will likely be paired with Onwuasor against the Bills. If Young is a scratch, there should be some concern about the lack of depth at the position moving forward.
Ravens vs Bills
Not only do the Ravens get home-field advantage in Week 1, but they're looking at a Bills offense they feel they can control. Jimmy Smith will not be an option, but Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr are both ready to step into the starting role at cornerback. In 2017, Baltimore led the league in interceptions and are banking on turnovers this season as well. Charles Clay and Kelvin Benjamin will be matchups Baltimore feels are favorable to their style of defense.
Marshal Yanda returns for the Ravens at right guard and the Ravens are banking on his blocking skills to help their passing and rushing game on offense. The run game, with a committee of Javorius (Buck) Allen, Alex Collins and Kenneth Dixon (Collins listed as the 'starter'), should open up the passing game against a Bills defense that is projected to struggle.
- Date: September 9 (Sunday)
- Time: 1:00 PM EDT
- Location: M&T Bank Stadium
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