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Ravens Insider: Mike Preston’s Ravens observations on Ronnie Stanley looking good, Lamar Jackson’s weight and more | COMMENTARY


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The Ravens had an unusual player participate in practice Wednesday during voluntary organized team activities, and there will be no complaints from the coaching staff.

Ninth-year offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, the starting left tackle, had a full team workout — and he was impressive. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Stanley looked thick in his arms and upper body, and his legs were just as impressive, not as skinny as a year ago.

The Ravens and Stanley agreed to a reworked contract March 13 before the 2016 first-round draft pick was expected to make $15 million this season. He missed four games last year because of knee injuries and has struggled to regain his Pro Bowl form since suffering a major ankle injury three years ago.

Stanley has seldom participated in voluntary practices, but his presence might be an indication of how much this team is motivated after losing at home, 17-10, to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game.

Stanley performed well on Wednesday and showed good lateral movement.

Henry a handful

Newly acquired running back Derrick Henry also participated in practice, and he looked lean and healthy. More importantly, Henry hit the holes hard and showed good cutback ability, which critics said he no longer had after last season.

One quick thing that is noticeable about Henry is that he doesn’t mind stepping up in the pocket and pass blocking. That’s something that is desperately needed in the Ravens’ offense, especially with so many questions about the offensive line.

Let’s hear it

Fifteen minutes had gone by in practice and offensive coordinator Todd Monken had yet to say or mutter any bad language. But after the quarterbacks threw three straight passes into the dirt, Monken couldn’t help himself.

Another day with Coach Monken. Life is good.

Ravens team OTA open practice | PHOTOS

Weight watchers

Quarterback Lamar Jackson was pelted with questions about his playing weight since it appears he might be close to 200 pounds, well below his listed weight of 215.

Actually, it makes no sense to be concerned about his weight at this time. Through the years, I’ve seen defensive ends add 20 pounds in three weeks and offensive linemen drop 30 pounds a month after they retire.

Who cares? Let’s see what Jackson weighs when he gets to training camp in late July or early August. Until then, he is anxious to line up with Henry and play another year in Monken’s offense.

Coach John Harbaugh shook off any concern about Jackson’s weight.

“He is a pro,” Harbaugh said.

Amen.

Simpson steps up

Second-year player Trenton Simpson is expected to replace Patrick Queen at weak-side linebacker, and he should improve the Ravens’ pass coverage. That was an area of concern for Queen, who is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There is doubt whether Simpson can be as physical at Queen, who had two strong seasons playing alongside middle linebacker Roquan Smith. Simpson, though, covers a lot of ground in the flat and flies to the ball. The 2023 third-round pick held his own with a lot of running backs leaking out of the backfield.

Don’t be surprised if he breaks up a lot of passes on the outside in 2024.

Wiggins as advertised

I didn’t get a lot of looks at rookie cornerback Nate Wiggins, the Ravens’ first-round pick out of Clemson in April, because he spent a lot of time working with the other rookies and young players on the opposite field.

But he did do some work with the first team in certain situations, and he’ll get more playing time as he becomes more acquainted with the philosophy of the defense.

But, as advertised, the young lad can fly, and he closes on receivers very quickly.

Guard battle

The Ravens used several combinations at guard and it will be interesting to see who wins the two starting jobs between Josh Jones, Ben Cleveland and Andrew Vorhees.

Both Jones and Vorhees appear more flexible, while Cleveland has sheer power. With Cleveland, the Ravens might want to use him as an extra lineman if necessary in short-yardage situations.

Cornerbacks check-in

I keep waiting for third-year cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis to have a breakout season. The former Alabama standout has played well at times, but he can’t stay healthy. He could really help the Ravens in nickel and dime situations. The 2022 fourth-round pick practiced well Wednesday, but he has to become more consistent.

The same can be said about fellow third-year cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams.

Mitchell on schedule

Harbaugh said second-year running back Keaton Mitchell is on schedule to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 15 last year, but he probably won’t be ready until midway through the 2024 season.

Mitchell, though, was at practice Wednesday and he walked off the field without any noticeable limp. That’s a good sign.

Word to the wise

Note to third-year defensive tackle Travis Jones, who weighs 338 pounds: Get in shape for training camp. He was struggling in practice, and the Ravens aren’t near full-tilt yet as far as rigorous workouts.

Ravens corner back Nate Wiggins, left, works out with Bump Cooper Jr., during team OTA open practice session. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)
Ravens cornerback Nate Wiggins, left, works out with Bump Cooper Jr. on Wednesday. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

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