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Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 23-7 win over Broncos | COMMENTARY

Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 23-7 win over Broncos | VIDEO

Here’s how the Ravens graded out at each position after a 23-7 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 4 at Empower Field at Mile High:

Quarterback

Lamar Jackson got off to a slow start, which might have been expected after he missed two days of practice with a back injury. He showed nice touch on several long passes but missed a couple of throws that he probably wishes he could have had back. Jackson threw behind his receivers a couple of times and tight end Mark Andrews bailed him out with some sliding catches. In the past three weeks, Jackson has stepped into his throws. He failed to do that several times against Denver, but still threw for more than 300 yards for the second time in his career. Grade: B

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Running backs

It’s a mystery what offensive coordinator Greg Roman is trying to do with his running backs. In the past, someone has emerged to take the top spot, but none of the backs are getting a large number of carries. Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Le’Veon Bell got his first action in a Ravens uniform and had no impact. Latavius Murray was solid, but he’s not a threat outside the tackles. It will be interesting to find out why Ty’Son Williams was inactive, but apparently he has fallen out of favor. Grade: C

Receivers

The Ravens got Marquise “Hollywood” Brown involved early and he played well, making a diving 49-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Brown is effective at running crossing routes. Andrews worked well in tandem with Brown and dominated the middle of the field with five catches for 67 yards. This was the first time all season Jackson got most of the receivers involved, completing passes to Brown, Andrews, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II. Proche, a second-year player, had five catches for 74 yards. Grade: A-

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Offensive line

A big question coming into the season was whether this group could pass block. In two of the first three games, the answer was no, but the unit played well Sunday. Denver got to Jackson a couple of times with blitzes up the middle and off the edge. That’s going to happen occasionally. But overall, the five starters played well, giving Jackson more than ample time to throw. If left tackle Alejandro Villanueva misses extensive time with a knee injury, the Ravens are in trouble. Grade: B

Defensive line

Like the entire defense, the line struggled early and got knocked off the ball defending the run. But by midway through the first quarter, the Ravens started dominating. Brandon Williams was strong against the run, and fellow tackle Justin Madubuike and defensive end Calais Campbell brought pressure from the inside. For the second straight week, Campbell was easily the Ravens’ top lineman. Grade: B+

Linebackers

The Ravens got consistent pressure on the quarterback from outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and rookie Odafe Oweh. Bowser had two sacks and several pressures, and Oweh picked up his second sack. Middle linebacker Patrick Queen missed several tackles inside early and had some problems in coverage, but improved from a week ago. By late in the second quarter, Bowser and the rookie Oweh were teeing off on Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who left the game late in the first half with a concussion. Grade. B

Secondary

The Broncos have big receivers, but none with enough speed to consistently blow by cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett. As long as the Ravens made tackles and kept the Broncos in front of them, Denver didn’t pose much of a problem. The Ravens did a good job having reserve cornerback Jimmy Smith play over the tight ends. He gives the team a lot of options in coverage. Grade: A-

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Special teams

Justin Tucker made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a long of 46 yards. Sam Koch averaged 46 yards per punt, and the Ravens got a big punt return of 22 yards from Duvernay, who returned three punts for 66 yards. The Ravens easily won the field-position game. Grade: A-

Coaching

The Ravens, playing their third road game in four weeks, warmed up after a slow start. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale harassed Bridgewater with blitzes and designed pressures and Roman attacked the entire field in the passing game, especially on crossing patterns. The Broncos entered undefeated but were outplayed in every phase of the game. Grade: A-

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