Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–New defensive coordinator Don Martindale didn’t waste any time putting his stamp on the team.

The Ravens are traditionally known for their aggressive, hard-hitting defense. Some of that swagger was lost under former defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who retired before taking the same position with the Tennessee Titans.

Martindale has restored that feistiness.

“I like how we’re coming together. I like how we’re not flinching,” Martindale said.

The players were thrilled to have Martindale at the helm because he lets them play “faster.” The old-school “Baltimore Bullies” could be back in action.

“You feel free to just go out there and play. He gives you that confidence to go out there and do what you’ve got to do. He gives you the tools in meeting rooms to come out here and just play Raven football,” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “He’s just kind of letting you go out there and play fast. He’s going to correct you, but at the same time, he’s not going to put the chains on you and kind of make you a robot.”

–First-round pick Lamar Jackson is expected to get a chance to make plays at quarterback this season. He won’t be taking the starting role from Joe Flacco, however.

Jackson won a Heisman Trophy at Louisville and is a threat scrambling out of the pocket. However, it was clear during the preseason that he still needs to gain experience to take over the full-time job.

As a result, the Ravens also kept Robert Griffin III on the final roster as the primary backup. Still, the expectations remain high for Jackson.

“He has to practice hard and continue to do it when he gets a shot in the game: make plays, and do things right, and be calm, and all the things that you have to do to play in that kind of world-class type of environment,” head coach John Harbaugh said.

–Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Smith will officially began his suspension on Sept. 1 and he will be eligible to return four weeks later.

“I’m very disappointed that my past actions have led to this suspension,” Smith said. “I promise that I have already learned much and will continue to learn more from this experience. I believe I am, and will continue to try to be, a better person and a better father because of this. I am committed to being the best I can be, both on and off the field.

Smith will miss the Ravens’ games against the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. Smith, 30, has 11 interceptions, 59 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and a sack in 86 games (68 starts) with the Ravens.

The Ravens should be able to absorb the loss of Smith with Brandon Carr and 2017 first-round pick Marlon Humphrey both fully equipped to start as the outside cornerbacks. Baltimore also has depth at that position with Tavon Young, Maurice Canady and rookie fourth-round pick Anthony Averett.

–Quarterback Joe Flacco: Few quarterbacks have been more polarizing than Flacco. There has even been a national debate about whether he is an “elite” player. Flacco has also been highly criticized for the Ravens struggles on offense. However, Flacco entered the preseason fully healthy for the first time in several years. As a result, he had one of the best training camps of his 11-year career. Baltimore had the league’s 29th ranked passing attack last year. Flacco, 32, threw for 3,141 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The team added veteran wide receivers John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead IV to help boost the offense. Flacco is poised to have a huge year with the added weapons.

–Tight end Hayden Hurst: While the first-round pick will miss the opening three or four weeks of the season because of a fracture in his foot, he still should be able to make a big impact on the offense. Hurst was solid throughout the preseason and rarely dropped a pass in practice or in a game. Quarterback Joe Flacco likes throwing to tight ends, so Hurst will have plenty of opportunities to make plays when he gets back on the field.