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via Mike Preston:


Rookie tackle Stanley stymies Lions' Ansah, continues to improve


Mike Preston

Ravens Insider

The Detroit Lions ran a lot of players at Ravens rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Saturday night.

First there was Pro Bowl defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and then end Wallace Gilberry. The Lions added Kerry Hyder and Brandon Copeland to the mix, as well as Devin Taylor.

Stanley not only held his own, but he also played well. He got a little high in pass protection at times and might need better knee bend. He was a little slow twice as far as recognition of blitzes and stunts, but overall it was a good night.

It was Stanley's first extensive test of the preseason. He had played well in the previous two preseason games, but Saturday night he faced Ansah, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL last season.

Ansah, 6 feet 5, 279 pounds, led the NFC in sacks with 14.5 in 2015. His long arms and lean body create nightmares for offensive tackles, and Ansah is exceptionally quick off the snap.

But Stanley didn't allow a sack in pitching his third shutout of the preseason. More importantly, he helped keep Joe Flacco upright in the two series the starting quarterback played.

Most fans' eyes were on Flacco, who was making his first start since missing the last six games of the 2015 season after tearing his left ACL and MCL. But Stanley was involved in one of the game's better matchups.

The Ravens wanted to find out how Stanley would play against a Pro Bowl player and he eased some of their concerns. But let's also give offensive coordinator Marc Trestman some credit. He put a tight end or ran wide receivers to the left quite a lot, which forced Ansah and the other defensive ends to play outside.

Those moves gave Stanley an extra second because the hardest block for a tackle is when an end such as Ansah lines up directly on the tackle's outside shoulder and has a straight run to the quarterback.

Stanley also got some help from guard Alex Lewis on occasion with double-team blocks. But for the most part, Stanley was involved in one-on-one blocking.

Ansah got pressure twice, but only once did he force Flacco to move in the pocket. The Lions ran a couple of stunts with their ends and linebackers, which caused some hesitation, but Stanley recovered quickly to make his blocks and complete assignments.

Only once did he whiff, when free safety Tavon Wilson ran by him with about nine minutes left in the second quarter and Ansah burned him with an outside rush, but quarterback Ryan Mallett threw quickly.

So far, Stanley has exceeded reasonable expectations. He struggled in offseason minicamps with speed rushers and at times was overpowered. He still needs more strength in his lower body. But he is athletic and learns quickly.

“You look at it, and you go, ‘There's nothing that tells you that he can't do this, that the game is going to be too big for him, that the spot's going to be too big for him,” Trestman said recently. “That's what we're seeing each and every day. We've got to assess him and grade him each day and each game, and we think he's going to grow into being an outstanding football player.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh kept Stanley on the field for an extra series Saturday night while resting starters such as guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Rick Wagner. But by game's end, the Ravens had a full evaluation and saw what they needed to see.

Like most rookies, Stanley will have struggles this season but he'll be able to hold his own. If he has developed this much in such a short time, imagine what he'll be like with a year or two of experience.

“You watch him in practice and you grade the tape, and you really don't talk about him that much,” Trestman said. “That's a good sign as to how he's doing. He's done really well with handling the protection schemes that we have, picking up blitzes and working with Alex. You've seen how they've done just picking up twists and communicating. So it's been a good start for him.

“He's just really quietly gone about his business each and every day this practice. He's very focused. There's not a lot of stuff going on outside of him just trying to do his job. That's a really good sign.”



- See more at: http://digitaledition.baltimoresun.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=bb8fd121-1424-4a28-a964-16897a2fe8f9&t=1472411900994#sthash.2TQeQ0oi.dpuf

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