Things have changed in a few months for Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon.
In May, he wanted to “lead the league in sacks.”
In the dog days of August, however, his goals are more diplomatic.
“My goals this season is to be the most help I can be for the Baltimore Ravens,” Judon said. “Every time I go out there, to cause havoc and make plays. I can sit here and say I want the most sacks or I want this or that. Maybe I’m getting blocked differently after four games, maybe something else happens."
Last season, Judon quickly climbed the team’s sacks list, tallying eight against Terrell Sugg’s 11. Judon doubled his total from the 2016 season, and could potentially do so again.
The Arizona Cardinals’ Chandler Jones led the NFL in sacks last season with 17. In two seasons in the league, Judon’s amassed 12. He'll also want more time on the field, catching up to Suggs' 845 defensive snaps versus his 787 in 2017.
"I just want to go out there and be dominant every time I take the field," Judon said.
Judon’s trying to better learn pass protection schemes from rookie lineman Orlando Brown Jr., his fellow linebackers and left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who Judon said he spent most of the summer facing off with.
But as far as sack counts go this year? Don’t think Judon won’t be keeping score.
“It’s not that [Suggs] don’t see when I get a sack and I don’t see when he get a sack, so it may happen and in the back of our heads, we’re keeping count, but I want him to have the most sacks of all time,” Judon said. “Because that’s helping us win games. And I’m pretty sure he wants to see me climb that ladder, reach those goals that he already reached.”
To achieve his goal, Judon faces another obstacle. He’s still learning his way around the new NFL helmet rule, which he and every defender has seen affect preseason play.
“I tackle big, I always wrap people up and stuff,” Judon said. “But now that I’m in more space, I gotta be conscious of that … That’s the rules, and if I wanna play this game, I gotta follow the rules.”
Flacco not a fan of preseason schedule
The Ravens will face the Indianapolis Colts on Monday at 8 p.m. Five days later, they’ll fly to Miami to play the Dolphins. Just another five days later, the Ravens will host the Washington Redskins in the hopes of bringing down their Mid-Atlantic rival to open the regular season riding high.
The schedule and the distance between each game seem a little off to starting quarterback Joe Flacco.
“It's definitely strange. I think the last few years we’ve been kind of stacked just every week on Thursdays. It just is what it is,” Flacco said.
Within his own conference, Flacco has a right to feel as if he pulled the short straw. The Ravens’ preseason games are bunched together a little more than their AFC North rivals. The Cincinnati Bengals have eight days between their second and third games and the Pittsburgh Steelers have nine. While the Cleveland Browns have just six days between their second and third preseason games, they have seven between the penultimate and the last one.
The Ravens also have played one more game than any other AFC team with the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, against the Chicago Bears on Aug. 2.
“We’re in the training camp flow right now,” Flacco said. “Obviously, when you start to play these games, it breaks things up a little bit. It’s always nice to get back to football. So, the long stretches — they’re less than ideal, but I think [coach] John [Harbaugh] is really smart about how he sets up our schedule and it’ll all work out well.”
Harbaugh doesn’t see any chance that the three players still sidelined because of injury — cornerback Jaylen Hill, inside linebacker Bam Bradley and wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo — will be healthy enough in time for the regular season.
Hill suffered an ACL and MCL tear against the Colts in December of last year; Bradley hurt his ACL almost an entire year ago, in September; and Adeboyejo underwent surgery on his upper leg muscle in May, having also missed most of last season, too.
“The expectation is for all those guys to go into the season on PUP [physically-unable-to-perform list]. That’s where they’re at. As far as relative progress, I really don’t know. I don’t get daily updates on those guys. We’ll see how it goes once the long-term portion of the injury is over.”
The small portion of the roster currently out, though, is nothing compared with the rash of injuries the Ravens struggled with during the 2017 season. Even before last summer’s training camp had come to a close, seven players — running back Kenneth Dixon, wide receiver Tim White, guards Alex Lewis and Nico Siragusa, tight end Crockett Gillmore, cornerback Tavon Young and linebacker Albert McClellan — had already been declared out for the season.