Rookie Report – Week 12
The Ravens got a huge win against Cincinnati Sunday afternoon, and while the number of rookies contributing to the effort seems to have shrunk in recent weeks, the importance of those performances has been magnified.
Kenneth Dixon out-touched Terrance West 17 to 16 and out-snapped him 31 to 23. Those numbers are close, but if you’ve been following these figures in recent weeks, you know that Dixon’s playing time is ascending at West’s expense. The coaches continue to show their trust in the rookie, including on the final three offensive snaps as the offense tried to ice the game.
He finished with 80 total yards and his biggest plays came early in the game, with a 16-yard reception and a 15-yard rush on back-to-back plays in the game’s first series. On the run, Dixon showed good vision and made two patient jump cuts before finishing with great power to break Dre Kirkpatrick’s attempted tackle. There were carries where I would have rather him turned the ball up to finish the run instead of turning his pads east-west, but his potential as a runner is an exciting development on offense.
We did, however, see a limitation of Dixon’s skillset in the early fourth quarter. Vontaze Burfict came on an A-gap blitz that Dixon recognized and stepped up to address, but Burfict quickly overpowered him to apply pressure to Joe Flacco and force him to throw it away.
First-rounder Ronnie Stanley had a decent day at left tackle. He gave plenty of ground to the talented Michael Johnson, but for the most part kept Flacco clean (no sacks and only a few pressures conceded) with the help of Marshal Yanda at left guard. The rookie was again flagged, this week for a declined illegal formation penalty where he lined up in the backfield on a draw play.
Stanley’s run blocking left a bit to be desired. He whiffed on two cut blocks, and failed to generate sizeable running lanes the few times the ball was run to the left side. He did show good tenacity and effort on certain runs, but those were often paired with plays where he failed to finish his block or conceded too much ground, so consistency is his next step in the run game.
Matt Judon’s improvement led to the healthy scratch of Za’Darius Smith at outside linebacker Sunday afternoon. Judon played 19 snaps and set the edge well to record a tackle for no gain in the second quarter. He batted down two balls with under two minutes to go in the game during the Ravens’ impressive late-game stretch of pass deflections at the line of scrimmage. In obvious passing situations, Judon’s awareness to get his hands up was impressive.
Tavon Young had a solid bounce-back game. He got targeted quite a bit Sunday, and while he wasn’t perfect, he put his impressive coverage skills on display. The highlight was his pass deflection on an end zone jump ball (albeit poorly thrown) to Tyler Eifert who has a 9-inch height advantage on the rookie. He also jumped a first quarter wide receiver screen for an incompletion.
It is difficult to tell from both the film and the broadcast, but it looked like his fourth quarter holding penalty on a comeback route was ticky-tack. He didn’t have a great tackling game, as I credited him for a missed tackle and he later took a bad angle on a screen. Nonetheless, with Jimmy Smith still banged up and the general lack of depth at corner, Young is proving too valuable on the outside to be used much in the slot anymore this season.
Interestingly, Michael Pierce’s snap count fell to just 13, with no reps in the fourth quarter. We will watch this week at practice to see if his health played a factor in that decrease in playing time.
Kamalei Correa was inactive Sunday. The second-rounder has been a disappointment so far, especially when viewed in context of the ample opportunity at the linebacker, where fifth-rounder Matt Judon has impressed.
Wide receiver Chris Moore was again limited to mostly special teams duties, tallying just four offensive snaps against the Bengals.
The Ravens have another crucial home test this weekend, this time against a surging Dolphins squad. Look for Dixon to have a breakout day against the Miami defense ranked third-worst in the league.