Welcome to lunchtime links, where we round up all the latest Ravens news from around the web for your convenient consumption. Today we present the Raven’s most improved player, tell you why the safeties aren’t playmakers, reveal the team’s starting right tackle for 2014, and catch you up on all the latest injury news.
Latest injury updates, starting right tackle named
Quite a few tidbits came out of yesterday’s press conference following practice. We learned that the Ravens are going to hold Lardarius Webb out for the remainder of the preseason, which is probably a smart move. We also found out that Ray Rice returned to practice following his shoulder injury, but Jimmy Smith did not. Owen Daniels is still being rested because he has “old guy fatigue,” and Asa Jackson is close to returning from his ankle injury,
We also learned that Rick Wagner has won the starting right tackle job for the Ravens, and that Jah Reid will be his backup. This is not a surprise after the team showed a great deal of confidence in him through the offseason, and he really hasn’t had any serious competition. Wagner, for his part, has shown well so far in both practice and the preseason.
Raven’s safeties aren’t playmakers
The Ravens current starting safety duo of Matt Elam and Darian Stewart are known for being hard hitters, but not so much for their playmaking skills. Both have a nasty reputation for their ability to lay vicious hits on opposing offenses and that is a big reason why the Ravens drafted Elam and signed Stewart. But do you need two safeties who can hit, even though neither is a big threat for interceptions? We think they will be just fine.
Red zone performance improving
After last year’s dismal performance in the red zone, the Ravens appear to be reversing their bad fortune. The team was among the very worst when it came to red zone conversions last season, but in two preseason games so far they have converted on four out of six trips.
That is a rather excellent percentage of success at 66.6 percent, compared to 46.2 percent last year, which was next to last in the NFL. It may be early, but this Gary Kubiak led offense appears to be making major strides in pretty much every measurable category.
Raven’s most improved player
2013 third round pick Brandon Williams has worked his way into the starting nose tackle role this season, and so far he has played very well in that spot. Williams is perhaps the Ravens most improved player over last season, and his tremendous strength has been very much on display over the first two preseason games. Williams is a key component in the defense this season who the Ravens will rely on to clog the middle and occupy blockers so that the linebackers can flow to the ball. So far, he has performed that job admirably.