BALTIMORE — The Ravens are looking to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
The players are confident they have the talent in place to make a run all the way to the Super Bowl.
"We’re too talented; we’re deep," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "This team is just set up perfectly to make a run. Now, obviously, it’s hard to do, and every team wants it. There are other teams out there that have just as much talent and great players, as well, so it’s going to be a battle, but there’s no excuse. We have everything it takes, and so it really comes down to execution, taking it one day at a time and earning the right.”
The Ravens have a balanced roster with a mix of veterans and young dynamic players. They have talent at each position and want to use that experience to go deeper into the playoffs.
Baltimore's practice squad is also full of talent so the team does have depth in case of injuries.
The Ravens want to have more balance on offense this year.
Last season, they led the NFL in rushing but had the 32nd-ranked passing attack.
Baltimore offensive coordinator Greg Roman promises the team will have many new wrinkles with the game plan.
"As far as expanding our profile, I definitely think there are some new things we’ll do, but there are a lot of things that we haven’t done that we’re going to open up that chapter of the playbook now, in other words," Roman said. "So, I think it’s going to open up our playbook a little bit more.”
Quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 2,757 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions (99.3 rating) last season. He also led the team with 1,005 yards rushing. Jackson became the first quarterback in league history to record two 1,000 yards rushing seasons. He's poised for another huge year entering his fourth season in the NFL. Jackson missed the first week of training camp because he tested positive for COVID-19, but he has looked solid since his return.
The Ravens boosted their passing attack with the addition of veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins and a couple of selections in this year's draft — Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. Bateman, however, will miss the first few games after undergoing groin surgery.
Those new additions will complement Marquise Brown, James Proche and Devin Duvernay. Bateman, however, recently underwent surgery on his groin and will miss at least the first three games of the regular season.
Mark Andrews has established himself among the best tight ends in the league and gets plenty of targets.
The Ravens led the NFL in rushing in each of the past two seasons. However, they lost running back J.K. Dobbins with a season-ending knee injury. As a result, Gus Edwards will start and be helped by Justice Hill and Ty’Son Williams.
Jackson and the Ravens are trying to reach an extension with him before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023. But he won’t let that become a distraction.
"I'm worried about getting my Super Bowl here and bringing it back home so we can celebrate that and focus on that. I'm focused on winning,” Jackson said.
Throughout the offseason, questions were raised about the Ravens' pass rush. They didn't replace their top edge rushers — Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue — who left via free agency.
However, the Ravens put those fears to rest.
Baltimore added veteran linebacker Justin Houston, a four-time Pro Bowl defender who has recorded at least eight sacks in each of the past four seasons.
Inside linebacker Patrick Queen has gotten more adept at finding seams and getting to the quarterback. He will play alongside another second-year player, Malik Harrison, who is developing a reputation for his bone-jarring hits.
Rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has dazzled coaches with his size and speed and he's managed to get into the backfield several times during his first training camp.
Veteran Tyus Bowser has shown more polish and he's poised to raise his sacks total this season after signing an extension in the offseason.
Campbell and Justin Madubuike have been getting pressure inside the interior line and that should carry over to the season.
Finally, the secondary, led by Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, has locked down wide receivers and created more time to pressure the quarterback.
Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale has a reputation for dialing up the pressure.
"Certainly, in this league, you’ve got to put pressure on the passer, and you’ve got to affect the quarterback," defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said. "We know that, and nobody does that better than they’ve done here, under ‘Wink’s’ tutelage especially.
"But you still have to earn the right to rush the passer in this league, so players like Brandon Williams, like Justin Ellis, they’re incredibly valuable. And while a lot of the things they do may not show up on the stats sheet, they’re productive.”
The Ravens are once again one of the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. However, the AFC title still runs through Kansas City, which has beaten the Ravens in each of the past three seasons. Baltimore hosts the Chiefs on Sept. 19.
Ravens Record: 12-5
Expected depth chart
Quarterbacks: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
Running Backs: Gus Edwards, Ty'Son Williams, Justice Hill
Fullback: Pat Ricard
Wide Receivers: Hollywood Brown, Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Tylan Wallace
Tight Ends: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Josh Oliver
Offensive Linemen: Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Lefy guard Ben Powers, center Bradley Bozeman, right guard Kevin Zeitler, right tackle Alejandro Villanueva, guard Ben Cleveland, guard/ center Pat Mekari, tackle Tyre Phillips, center Trystan Colon
Defensive Linemen: Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington
Inside Linebackers: Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, Chris Board, Kristian Welch
Outside Linebackers: Justin Houston, Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser, Daelin Hayes, Jaylon Ferguson
Cornerbacks: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young, Jimmy Smith, Anthony Averett, Chris Westry
Safties: Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Brandon Stephens, Ar'Darius Washington, Geno Stone
Special Teams: Kicker: Justin Tucker, Punter: Sam Koch, Long snapper: Nick Moore