OWINGS MILLS, Md, — The Las Vegas Raiders know they need to slow Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to have any chance of winning their Week 1 matchup.
The players are bracing for Jackson's dual-threat ability.
"He’s so talented. I think there’s a lot of respect around the league about his ability to run and how he makes people miss and extends plays," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "But his passing abilities now too, you look at third down, I think he was like ninth in the league in quarterback efficiency. So, I mean he’s got the whole game now. He’s very talented. He can make the throws, he can run, extend plays. That’s why he’s so difficult to defend.”
The Raiders finished in the bottom third of key defensive categories last season: 25th in total defense (389.1 yards per game); 25th against the pass (263.3 ypg) and 24th against the run (125.8).
The Raiders also ranked 30th in giving up 29.9 points per game.
As a result, the team boosted its defensive line by signing defensive tackles Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson, Darius Philon and Gerald McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler who has not played since 2019.
Las Vegas also signed linebacker Yannick Ngaokue to boost the pass rush. Ngakoue had eight sacks with the Minnesota Vikings and Ravens last season
However, they will get tested early by the Ravens, who led the NFL in rushing for the past two seasons.
The Ravens had to overhaul the group of running backs because of injuries.
Baltimore lost running backs J.K. Dobbins (knee), Gus Edwards (knee) and Justice Hill (Achilles) to season-ending knee injuries.
Baltimore has five running backs who could play Monday against the Raiders — Ty’Son Williams, Trenton Cannon, Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell.
The biggest question is who will be active Monday night.
"What are they going to do and where are guys at? But again, having a relationship with Greg [Roman] and knowing him, he’ll adjust," Bradley said. "And it’s not going to slow them down at all. They’ll just put pieces in there. This is the NFL, and everybody is extremely talented. The guys they signed, extremely talented, so we know we are going to get their best shot. We understand that part of it and like I said we got a lot of respect for how they attack defenses.”