Rookie Report – Week 11
The Ravens struggled to maintain their footing in Jerry World Sunday against the Cowboys, evening their record at 5-5 on the season. The rookie class failed to contribute many of the splash plays to which Baltimore fans have become accustomed in recent weeks.
A week after getting feature treatment on Rookie Report, Tavon Young had a day to forget in Dallas with two high-profile negative plays. The first was a 33-yard pass interference penalty when he was victimized by a good route design. The outside receiver picked the rookie, while Tavon’s slot assignment got separation on an out-and-up. Young actually recovered well to get into decent position, but didn’t get his head around in time, drawing the flag.
All along we have said that Tavon has plenty of room for technique improvement, and Sunday was an unfortunate showcase of some of those deficiencies.
The second big play conceded was Dez Bryant’s 13-yard slant for a touchdown. Young started a hopeless seven yards off the line of scrimmage and did not come close to preventing Bryant from scoring.
Tavon did prove us right with an excellent first quarter open field tackle against Ezekiel Elliott for a loss of a yard after the fellow rookie caught a ball in the flat. But Elliott later got his revenge when he put Young on a poster by hurdling the cornerback…such is the seesaw life of an NFL defender.
Matt Judon applied a good lick to Dak Prescott early in the game when he rushed unblocked. But Judon was otherwise quiet and committed two offside penalties—one on a fourth quarter kickoff. That penalty was very costly as the Ravens had just scored to pull within seven points with over eight minutes left in the game and Justin Tucker executed a perfect pop fly to the 5-yard line.
It wasn’t all bad for the defensive youngsters, as Michael Pierce finally saw the uptick in snaps that I’ve been calling for the past two weeks, logging 41 against the Cowboys. He played very well against the run matched up against Dallas’ talented interior line. Pierce’s best play may have been the very first play of the game where he bench-pressed Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick to bring Zeke down for a 1-yard gain.
Pierce and Brandon Williams clogged the middle all day as Elliott’s bigger plays were mostly on outside runs.
Rookie runner Kenneth Dixon added a bit of juice to the offense, posting 40 yards on six carries, highlighted by a 20-yard first quarter scamper. Dixon showcased vision by cutting to daylight at the line of scrimmage, speed by exploding into the second level, and tenacity by finishing off the run and maximizing yardage. As has become typical, the offense, trailing in the second half, largely abandoned the run—Terrance West and Dixon combined for just 14 carries.
Ronnie Stanley is quietly building momentum at left tackle. He performed fairly well, especially in the running game, only allowing a few pressures and not conceding a sack. Stanley did continue his streak of penalties with a fourth quarter false start on the spike attempt when it looked like the rookie was trying to reset his stance. But on the whole, we heard Stanley’s name infrequently and that is always a good thing. Joe Flacco will need time to throw for the Ravens to have any chance at making the playoffs.
– Second-rounder Kamalei Correa played just two defensive snaps. He registered a pressure on an unblocked rush late in the second quarter, and failed to set the edge on an 11-yard rush by Elliott late in the game.
– Chris Moore logged just a single offensive snap Sunday. He is clearly fifth in line within a now-healthy receiver corps.
– When the Ravens brought back Asa Jackson last week, Willie Henry, who rarely cracked the game day roster, was moved to season-ending injured reserve.
– Alex Lewis’ high ankle sprain kept him out as expected against Dallas—the Ravens won’t get the rookie back until the end of the regular season at the earliest.