Welcome to lunchtime links, where we round up all the latest Ravens news from around the web for your convenient consumption. Today, we discover that Pernell McPhee is aiming for double digit sacks, Kelechi Osemele for the Pro Bowl, the Ravens will put an emphasis on protecting Joe Flacco Saturday night, and the Ravens are making red zone efficiency a priority this season.
Pernell McPhee aiming for double digit sacks
Through two preseason games, linebacker Pernell McPhee is tied for the league lead with five quarterback hurries, and he was the only Raven defender to register a sack against the Cowboys. And now he has a lofty goal for the regular season, as Jamison Hensley at ESPN tells us. “I predict myself as going in and having double-digit sacks,” McPhee said.
McPhee certainly has shown the ability to become a top notch pass rusher ever since he registered six sacks in his rookie season back in 2011. But the last two years have seen him only register a total of 3.5 sacks. We hope that McPhee’s rejuvenated play this offseason will lead to some regular season success, but only time will tell.
Kelechi Osemele aiming to make the Pro Bowl
Another Raven who has high aspirations for the coming season is offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, who recently told Clifton Brown at CSN Baltimore that one of his goals is to make the Pro Bowl. “Yes, I think about it daily,” Osemele said. “That’s something that wakes me up in the morning and gets me going. It’s my personal motivation to come out here every day and grind and get after it and get better. It’s one of those things where it’s a carrot right out in front of you. You set goals and aim and go after it.”
Osemele has certainly looked like a Pro Bowl caliber guard so far this preseason, and has at times flashed dominance. Now healthy following last November’s back surgery, he has looked like his former self on the field, which is to say a mauling presence in the run game. Osemele is going to be a key component in the Raven’s rejuvenated rushing attack.
Ravens make protecting Joe Flacco a priority against Redskins
The third preseason game means extended playing time for the starters, which also means more exposure to injury. Clifton Brown at CSN Baltimore tells us that protecting Joe Flacco will be a high priority for the Ravens Saturday night against the Redskins. The Redskins have racked up six sacks in two games so far, so you can’t blame the team for being cautious.
Flacco took a beating last season to the tune of a career high 48 sacks. So far, the new look offensive line has done a pretty good job of protecting the quarterback, with the exception of the second and third team units. This, combined with a new scheme that emphasizes getting rid of the ball quickly, should go a long way in protecting Flacco this season.
Red zone efficiency is a focus this season
The Ravens were among the NFL’s worst in red zone efficiency last season, but so far this preseason they have really turned things around. Aaron Wilson at the Baltimore Sun points out that producing in the red zone has been a huge focus through the offseason. The team has scored four touchdowns on six trips to the red zone through two preseason games, which is a nice percentage.
That’s a huge improvement from last year’s production of 24 touchdowns on 52 red zone trips. While it’s a small sample size, a quick hit passing game and newly effective rushing attack will easily improve upon those horrid numbers. Often teams just need to squeak out a yard or two to get the first down inside the 20′s and keep the sticks moving. And this offense looks primed to do just that.