After surrendering eight sacks in a 17-16 preseason win against the Chicago Bears on Aug. 2, the Ravens offensive line allowed just three sacks in Thursday’s 33-7 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Rookie Lamar Jackson was sacked twice, and Robert Griffin III was taken down once.
The team has given up a preseason-worst 11 sacks thus far and the second most sacks allowed per game, trailing only the Jacksonville Jaguars’ six. In the win against Chicago, the offensive line featured only two projected starters in left guard Alex Lewis and center Matt Skura.
In the game against the Rams, the team opened with left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard James Hurst on the offensive line. Although Orlando Brown Jr. has started both games at right tackle, Hurst is considered the leading candidate to start there when the regular season opens against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 9.
Still, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg put a more positive spin on the offensive line’s performance against Los Angeles.
“Our line had to be better than that first game, and they were,” he said. “My second thing: Out of those eight sacks, there were like six of them that the quarterback position could have gotten something done to avoid that. It wasn’t quite — and I told the line this — it wasn’t quite as bad as it looks on paper, but we’ve got to be better, and they were. So that’s a good thing.”
Two days before Thursday’s preseason game against the Rams, Janarion Grant committed a major faux pas. In a joint practice Tuesday with Los Angeles, the rookie wide receiver and return specialist evaded the Rams’ coverage unit and took a punt to the end zone. But before he crossed the goal line, Grant taunted the opposing team with the football, which earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a very public tongue-lashing from special teams coordinator and associate head coach Jerry Rosburg.
Despite the error, Grant lined up as the Ravens’ primary punt returner in Thursday’s 33-7 victory, returning one kickoff for 26 yards, fair-catching two punts and having another punt return negated by a holding penalty on safety Kai Nacua. The undrafted free agent, who also caught two of four passes thrown his way for 32 yards, was appreciative of the gesture.
“I was surprised,” he said Sunday of filling a role previously handled by Tim White, who did not play for unspecified reasons. “Just a rookie mistake. We’re not supposed to do that, and I learned from that. I’m not going to do that in a game, and you’ve got to practice what you’ve been taught. So you just have to keep that in mind and be mindful of yourself and your teammates because you don’t want to cost your teammates.”
The team practiced Monday with outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, safety Bennett Jackson and inside linebacker Alvin Jones. Suggs might have been enjoying a day off as a veteran. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser (groin), tight end Maxx Williams (unspecified) and fullback Christopher Ezeala (undisclosed) returned to practice. Strong safety Tony Jefferson (hamstring pull) left practice early. Wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo (upper leg muscle), linebacker Bam Bradley (ACL) and cornerback Jaylen Hill (right ACL, MCL) remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
As a fullback and defensive tackle, Patrick Ricard has the unusual task of blocking for a running back and then trying to tackle one. The seemingly polar opposite tasks are even more magnified in practices when he switches from defense to offense. “Defensive guys will call me ‘traitor’ just because I’m hitting them versus playing with them,” he said. “But it’s all love. They all know that I have to do what I have to do.” … About 1,400 youth football players and 56 youth football teams were the Ravens’ guests on Youth Football Day at Monday’s practice. Teams from as far away as Anne Arundel, Harford and Frederick counties attended the session and collected autographs from players. And 32 teams from Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Carroll counties and Baltimore City picked up equipment such as cleats, jerseys and pants through the team’s youth football grant. … Tuesday’s practice is the last one of training camp that is open to the public. The session is scheduled to begin at 11:55 a.m.