Ravens ready to 'hit the ground running' for training camp
It's been the strangest offseason in Ravens history.
The team has not practiced at their training facility because of restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The players and coaches have been forced to communicate via Zoom calls under the guidance of coach John Harbaugh.
Nonetheless, the Ravens are confident the players will be sharp when they formally take the practice field next month when training camp opens.
Everyone is ready to play some football.
“We’re definitely ready to hit the ground running," Baltimore defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. "John [Harbaugh] has done a great job with the schedule and us doing everything from home, and meetings haven’t changed. We were talking the other day as a defensive staff, and if you just took the transcripts from OTAs last year, and then our Zoom meetings this year, you couldn’t tell the difference.
"Because we’ve made Zoom meetings an event that our guys didn’t want to miss them, and they took something away from them. It just makes you appreciate the small things in life. It makes you appreciate, as a coach, the time away from the grass how much you really do miss them – being hands on, if you will. But we’re right where we want to be as far as installation and all that.”
The Ravens have most of their core players back from last season when they went a league-best 14-2. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the unanimous MVP and he is expected to take the next step with his development entering his third year as a pro.
Baltimore set the NFL single-season rushing record last season with 3,296 yards on a league-high 596 carries and have all three running backs — Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill — back in the fold. The Ravens added another stout runner, J.K. Dobbins, in this year's NFL draft.
On defense, the Ravens could have the best secondary in the league with cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith, along with safeties Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark
Baltimore boosted the defensive line by acquiring Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars and signing Derek Wolfe as a free agent from the Denver Broncos. The trio of Campbell (6.5), Wolfe (7) and Brandon Williams (1) combined for 14.5 sacks in 2019. All three players are also adept at stopping the run.
The Ravens selected a pair stout middle linebackers — Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison — in this year's NFL draft and both are expected to make an immediate impact. Matt Judon, who led the team with 9.5 sacks last season, leads a strong group of outside linebackers that includes second-year player Jaylon Ferguson.
As a result, expectations are as high as they've ever been in Baltimore. Now, the hope is there is a full season.
“Nobody can predict the future. That’s in God’s hands," said Harbaugh, who wore a protective mask around his neck during a Zoom call. "It’s all to be determined. I’m confident that it’ll happen. I know I’m very hopeful. I’m praying for it. I want it to happen, and I think it will happen; I believe it will happen."