INSIDE SCOOP

Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

Ravens seek to improve passing attack

The Baltimore Ravens are looking to end a three-year playoff drought or there could be wholesale changes within the organization.

As a result, there is a sense of urgency entering training camp that is permeating throughout the franchise.

Baltimore has gone 40-40 since winning Super Bowl XLVII. If the team falls short of the postseason, there could be a complete overhaul of the coaching staff and veteran players in 2019.

Head coach John Harbaugh was able to open training camp a week earlier this year because the Ravens are playing the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. The rookies reported July 11 and veterans arrived one week later.

The priority this training camp is boosting the passing attack. Baltimore struggled to make big plays downfield last season, finishing with the league’s 29th-ranked passing attack. As a result, the team added veteran wide receivers John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead IV to help quarterback Joe Flacco.

Flacco, 32, passed for 3,141 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2017. He could be playing his last season in Baltimore because of his hefty contract.

The Ravens selected the dynamic Lamar Jackson with the 32nd overall pick of the NFL Draft as the possible heir to Flacco. The former Heisman Trophy winner is a game-changing athlete that will push for playing time this season.

The Ravens also added pair of rookie tight ends — Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews — in the first three rounds of the draft to replace Benjamin Watson, who led the team in receptions, but left as a free agent. Both Hurst and Andrews will push for starting spots ahead of veterans Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.

Baltimore should be solid again defensively. All of the starters are back in the secondary, which led the NFL with 22 interceptions. Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith could emerge as the top cornerback trio in the AFC, supported by safeties Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle.

Veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs returns for his 16th season and led the team with 11 sacks last season. The Ravens will need a couple of young pass rushers, namely Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams, to provide more support. Neither player made much of an impact last season as rookies.

C.J. Mosley led team with 132 tackles and made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons. Mosley is currently scheduled to become a free agent after the 2018 season and the Ravens will likely try to extend his contact. The Ravens drafted UCLA linebacker Kenny Young in the fourth round to help with pass coverage and he could eventually line up next to Mosley.

Baltimore will have one of the league’s top special teams with kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch.

 

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