A well-timed bye week can be an NFL team’s best friend over the course of a tiring regular season.
For the Ravens, it comes at an opportune moment, giving them an extra week to prepare for a pivotal divisional matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Players won’t have to worry about a game this weekend; however, they won’t be very far away from the team’s facility.
Under NFL and NFL Players' Association protocols, players must continue to undergo daily testing for COVID-19 during the bye week. As a result, players are not permitted to leave their team’s city during the bye week. So, all midseason vacation plans, trips to an alma mater and other excursions will have to remain on hold until the end of the season.
Further restrictions on large gatherings for players will make for a fairly uneventful next few days.
“A lot of us are still going to have that time to come up here [to the team facility] and take that extra tending and caring to our bodies," safety Chuck Clark said on a video conference call Monday. “So, we’ll definitely be able to have that time, instead of going out, getting on a plane or something, [and] a few extra days of doing that to your body and whatnot. But we’ll definitely have a little more time to get healthy and attack the rest of this season.”
Coach John Harbaugh said players will practice Tuesday and Wednesday and then have off the remainder of the week. Players can voluntarily visit the facility to work out if they so choose.
“We’re just doing our simple stuff; going over the film, breaking it down, getting better, try to work through some stuff and just build on for the next week," rookie linebacker Patrick Queen said. “I’m going to be here all bye week; I’m pretty sure everybody else is, too. We’re looking for a long season here. We’re not looking for any minor setbacks, or getting away from the game, or anything. We’re all just trying to stay locked in pretty much.”
Miscommunication on Boykin to ‘get it right’
Harbaugh acknowledged that a “communication issue” between quarterback Lamar Jackson and wide receiver Miles Boykin has resulted in errant throws by Jackson in recent weeks.
In the team’s Week 4 win over the Washington Football Team, Jackson and Boykin weren’t on the same page on a late first-half pass, an out route, that resulted in Jackson’s first interception of the season. In Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jackson appeared to be throwing a fade pass to Boykin, who was blocking his defender. And in Sunday’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles, it appeared Jackson was throwing a back-shoulder pass to Boykin, who kept streaking down the field.
Boykin has 11 catches on 19 targets, the lowest catch rate of any player on the team with at least 10 targets, and has yet to record a touchdown reception this season. After catching seven passes for 75 yards in the team’s first two games, Boykin has just 47 yards on four catches in the last four (15 yards came on a catch from a fake punt in Week 4).
“It’s happened at least twice in the last two games and those are plays that are opportunities for big conversions or possibly big plays,” Harbaugh said. "We talked about that today. It’s a communication issue between those two guys. That’s got to be fixed. It will be.
“They’re both very smart, especially Miles,” Harbaugh continued. “It’s Miles' responsibility, really, to get it right. Lamar is calling the play and Miles has to get it right. And he knows that, he’s a very accountable guy. He had a lot of good plays, too.”
>> Harbaugh said criticisms of the team’s offense and comparisons to the record-setting 2019 season are expected. “I think it’s natural, I think it’s understandable," Harbaugh said. “We want to improve on where we’ve been in the past. We’re not where we want to be. I don’t think we were necessarily where we wanted to be last year at this time either. It definitely is a work in progress. We know we have a lot of work to do, we have to improve. Our guys are all about it.”