Mike Preston’s observations on Ravens’ Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson, emerging defensive playmakers and more

The bye week is usually a time for players to heal and for the coaching staff to self-scout. Hopefully the Ravens determine that backup running back Gus Edwards needs more touches.

Edwards started the season slowly and at times lacked the burst he showed a year ago as a rookie, but he has shown great acceleration in the past three games.


He appears hungry because he craves more playing time. He has earned it.

This isn’t to say that the Ravens need to replace starter Mark Ingram II, who brings more to the team than just on-field production. Besides having 470 yards and seven touchdowns on 99 carries, Ingram is a total player who leads by example. The Ravens were fortunate to sign him in the offseason.


But Edwards has more explosiveness and is more of threat to break a 20- or 30-yard run than Ingram. The perfect scenario would be to use Ingram in the first quarter and allow Edwards to mix in some carries later in the game.

Few backs can close a game like Ingram. He has the power and body lean to be a great closer and is a determined runner inside the opponents’ 10-yard line.

This week might be the perfect time for coach John Harbaugh to emphasize to offensive coordinator Greg Roman that the Ravens are a running team first and a passing team second.

There have been times this season (see the first halves against the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks) when the Ravens have forgotten who they are. They want to have a balanced offense.

The Ravens should look to run first, and if that get shuts down, they should be able to pass the ball effectively and still win the game.

Now that’s balance.

A fine line

Harbaugh tried to downplay quarterback Lamar Jackson jumping up and down and spiking the ball on a delay-of-game penalty against Seattle on Sunday. Harbaugh said there was no issue and that he moved on to the next play.

I bet the coach had a little chat with his second-year quarterback. It’s good to show emotion, but there is a fine line between gaining an edge and showing up a teammate. It’s better for a quarterback to have that kind of outburst in the huddle than during a play.

Center Matt Skura should have gone to Jackson and said: “Look, Mr. Versatility. It’s been raining most of the morning and all afternoon. The ball is heavy and this is the loudest crowd of any in the NFL. Let’s see you snap it back to the quarterback in shotgun formation and you tell me how easy it is.”

That would have put an end to the dramatics.

Bowser, Ferguson showing progress

Ravens outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is out for the rest of the season with a torn triceps, but the Ravens got impressive performances from young outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson on Sunday.

Ferguson, a rookie, failed to hold the edge on a running play early in the game and was immediately pulled. But he returned later and went on to have his best game of the season, finishing with three tackles. Bowser, in his third season, also had three tackles.


Both got pressure on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.

“He played very well. He played his best game — a very physical game and against a couple of really big, grabby tackles, to say the least,” Harbaugh said of Ferguson. “He was strong at the point of attack and applied pressure.”

Where’s Hurst?

Here’s more in the self-scouting department.

Jackson needs to get more players involved in the offense. He has done a better job of looking off coverages, but he still goes back to his security blanket, tight end Mark Andrews.

That’s understandable to a degree, but sometimes the other tight end, Hayden Hurst, is open, but he doesn’t have the same connection with Jackson. With rookie speedster Marquise Brown out with an ankle injury, the Ravens have few playmakers on the outside. But Hurst can still get deep and open the middle of the field.

Remember, he was the team’s top draft pick a year ago.

Andrews has 36 catches for 449 yards and three touchdowns while Hurst has 14 for 141 and one touchdown.

Fort holding it down

Starting weak-side linebacker Patrick Onwuasor has missed the past two games with injuries, but he might have lost his job to L.J. Fort.

The Ravens could end up splitting time between the two, but Fort has played well, and he is always around the ball. He plays bigger than he looks because of his ability to shed blocks.

There are few linebackers, outside or inside, who can run like Onwuasor, who started in the middle at the beginning of the year. But the Ravens have gotten strong efforts from Fort and middle linebacker Josh Bynes, two free agents who were unsigned several weeks ago.

Talk is cheap

Ravens safety Earl Thomas III was hyped for the showdown against his former team, and that was to be expected after spending nine seasons with Seattle.

He played well, but didn’t need to chatter near Seahawks coach Pete Carroll when the Ravens made a big play on defense. It was unnecessary.

Players around the league respect Thomas for being hard-working and ferocious, and that seemed to come through on the field. Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett said Thomas didn’t talk trash, but rather talked to his current teammates about what was going on in the game.

That’s a consummate pro, the Thomas many players have come to respect.

By the book

With third-year player Chuck Clark in the lineup, the Ravens aren’t going to miss strong safety Tony Jefferson, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

Clark is strong in run support and has also broken up several passes. That’s only part of the package. He has become the team’s new version of former Ravens safety Eric Weddle.

”I told them that since we came to training camp, rookie minicamp, the second day I was struggling with the playbook and Chuck knew the playbook like the back of his hand,” said Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, also in his third season. “He’s in those books. Coach was asking me a question in rookie minicamp and I didn’t know the answer and I’m hearing a little something in the back from Chuck giving me the answer. He’s always been in his iPad [looking at the playbook]. He always knows what to do. I had no panic in Chuck at all.”

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