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Mike Preston

Mike Preston’s Ravens mailbag on Isaiah Likely and rookie tight ends, wide receiver woes and more | COMMENTARY

Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will answer fans’ questions throughout the Ravens season. After Baltimore fell to the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-17, on Sunday, plenty of questions remain before a wild-card round playoff rematch with the Bengals.

Here’s Preston’s take:

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(Editor’s note: Questions have been edited for length and clarity.)

Though he hasn’t been perfect, I like the way Isaiah Likely plays. He usually gets open, catches the ball, and runs with it. Are the Ravens wasting him as a backup tight end? Would it be better to use him as a possession-type wide receiver, like Anquan Boldin?

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— Alan Rosenthal

I wouldn’t call him a possession-type receiver. He moves well and gets yards after the catch, so he is a threat to break one. I’d like to see the Ravens use him on the outside. Because of his size — 6 feet 4 and 241 pounds — he could create mismatches with smaller cornerbacks, and why not just throw him some jump balls? The Ravens don’t have any other downfield threats.

Likely’s weakness is he isn’t much of a blocker, but he can improve in that area with a strong offseason in the weight room. The Ravens still need to get the rookie on the field with starting tight end Mark Andrews to strengthen the passing game.

We finally had a Charlie Kolar and David Ojabo sighting on Sunday vs. Cincinnati, and … they both produced! Kolar had four catches for 49 yards and Ojabo had a strip-sack. Given the Ravens’ need for impact pass catchers who can provide mismatches and speed on the edge to get to the quarterback, do you expect to see both of them active on game day for the playoffs? Really feel like Andrews, Likely and Kolar could give defenses fits if utilized properly together. Thanks.

— Paul in Orlando

I was glad to see the Ravens get these guys on the field against Cincinnati, especially since they have to play the Bengals again Sunday night. I have already addressed the Likely situation and Kolar is a big body (6-6, 250 pounds) who can help the Ravens muscle up when needed. Unfortunately, he is another player that needs another strong offseason in the weight room, and he has to improve his hands as far as catching the ball. Ojabo, in time, is going to be a good player. He has all the physical characteristics but just needs more practice time while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.

Hi Mike, no Ravens wide receivers had a catch until roughly 3:08 left in the third quarter against the Bengals. How do the Ravens fix this in the offseason? Thanks.

— Howard in Baltimore

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I would say draft a receiver, but their history has been one of failure, though second-year wideout Rashod Bateman has potential. If you don’t have quality receivers, then use the surplus of tight ends, at least for the rest of the season. The situation might improve depending on what the Ravens do with offensive coordinator Greg Roman in the offseason. If they change coordinators and system, they might be able to entice some good free-agent receivers to come here, which they haven’t been able to do in the past because they were so run-oriented. Right now, this team is stuck in the mud when it comes to finding the answers. The solution seems to be to draft one, but they can’t seem to get that right, which is comparable to their quarterback failures until they finally drafted Joe Flacco in 2008.

Given his injury history, his questionable passing ability (including overall quarterback IQ) and unreasonable contract demands, is it time for the Ravens to move on from Lamar? Also, given the overall performance of Ravens management and coaching since winning the Super Bowl, is it time for wholesale changes? Everything from draft pick selection to on-field game day coaching seems suspect.

— Carl Wright

Sometimes, I think the Ravens are 7-10 instead of 10-7. Fans need to show some patience, and let’s see how the rest of this season unfolds. As of right now, no one really knows about the seriousness of Jackson’s knee injury or if he is irritated with team officials about not getting a new contract. If Jackson still wants a fully guaranteed contract, the Ravens should say no and then place the franchise tag on him. Regardless, they will draft a quarterback and work with third-stringer Anthony Brown. I think we can all see the cumulative effects of Jackson being a running quarterback, and the offense has taken a toll on him and even backup Tyler Huntley.

I assume the Ravens will bring in a new coordinator, so it’s going to be an interesting offseason. But let’s see what happens in the postseason first. Anything can happen in the NFL. Anything.

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