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Five Takeaways From The Ravens' 26-13 Win Against The Packers

August 16, 2019
BALTIMORE -- The Ravens won their 15th straight preseason game as they ran past the Green Bay Packers, 26-13, at M&T Bank Stadium Aug. 15, but they suffered their first significant loss of the season as head coach John Harbaugh announced that nickel back Tavon Young could be out for the season with a neck injury.

Young had missed the past few practices and did not play against the Packers, a game in which the Ravens never trailed after taking an early 6-0 lead on a pair of first-quarter field goals by Justin Tucker. 

Other highlights for the Ravens included Trace McSorley's tight-window, 23-yard touchdown pass to Chris Moore for a 13-3 lead, and a 1-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Justice Hill, which came after Patrick Ricard recovered a fumble inside the Packers' 10-yard line.

The Ravens return to preseason action at the Philadelphia Eagles Aug. 22 after a pair of joint practices with the Eagles Aug. 19 and 20. 

Here are five other observations about the Ravens' win:

1. Lamar Jackson shouldn't be hurdling tacklers in preseason play, but that was fun. 

As expected, Jackson played the first quarter, which turned out to be two series, both of which ended with field goals. He finished 6-of-10 passing for 58 yards, connecting with tight end Nick Boyle three times. His only deep throws fell incomplete, with his longest completion going for 17 yards to receiver Willie Snead.

The play that everyone will be talking about from Jackson, though, didn't even count. Late in the first quarter, facing third-and-10 from the Packers' 18-yard line, Jackson dropped back to pass, but having no open receivers, he took off running. He juked one defender, cut inside and then hurdled a defender near the goal line for the touchdown. 

The play was called back because of an illegal blind-side block by Snead, and the Ravens surely don't want Jackson subject to unnecessary hits in the second preseason game, but the play offered a tantalizing hint of the potential with him running the Ravens' offense this year.

Harbaugh said, "You can see what he's capable of doing once he gets out [of the pocket]. People are going to have to really work hard to keep him in the pocket."

Asked whether he had any reservations about Jackson running in the preseason, which potentially increases the likelihood of injury, Harbaugh said, "What are you going to do? He's going to play. ... You can't hold him back forever. He looked good on the play. He looked good on a lot of plays."

2. Justice Hill adds juice to an impressive running game.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has talked of wanting a "stable" of running backs, and he appears to have that with Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and perhaps even a fourth running back in addition to fullback Patrick Ricard. Ingram looked strong in his first season work, gaining 18 yards on four early carries. 

Hill, the rookie from Oklahoma State, led the Ravens with 10 carries for 49 yards and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Hill was the fastest running back at the NFL Scouting Combine this year, which surely weighed heavily in the Ravens' evaluation of him. Against the Packers, he showed burst but also some power as he fought for extra yardage with legs that never seem to stop moving. 

The Ravens piled up 171 rushing yards on 37 carries (4.6-yard avg.), running behind an offensive line that Harbaugh said was "much improved" this week. It's still very early, and they have been playing against a lot of reserves, but this multidimensional running game is pretty much just what the Ravens envisioned. 

3. The Ravens need to find the end zone, and Jackson knows it. 

The good news is that in five preseason series, Jackson had led the Ravens on scoring drives four times. The bad news is that three of those four drives ended in field goals, including both of Jackson's drives against Green Bay Aug. 15.

One of the drives included Jackson's hurdling, 18-yard touchdown that was wiped out by penalty, and the 12-play possession ended with a 45-yard field goal by Tucker.

Jackson said he was "ticked off" the Ravens were held to field goals. 

"I was mad," he said. "We didn't score. … My goal this year, when we get in the red zone, [is] just to score. And we didn't do that. Yes, I was ticked off."

The Ravens last year scored touchdowns on 55.9 percent of their red zone drives, which ranked 20th in the league. They have perhaps the league's best and most reliable kicker in Justin Tucker, but they don't want to have to rely on his tremendous right leg too much. 

4. Chris Board's concussion underscores a shortage at inside linebacker.

The Ravens lost Chris Board to a concussion in the second quarter, and that figures to be Board's last action of the preseason. Regardless of the severity of the concussion, it seems unlikely he will participate in joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles or the third preseason game against the Eagles. And starters generally don't play in the preseason finale.

Board, an undrafted second-year linebacker out of North Dakota State, has emerged this summer as the starter alongside Patrick Onwuasor, and the only other returning inside linebacker on the roster was Kenny Young, a fourth-round draft pick last year. The Ravens have three undrafted inside linebackers in camp, with Otaro Alaka from Texas A&M leading that group. Alaka briefly left the Packers game with an injury but later returned and finished with a team-high six tackles. His chances of making the 53-man roster get a boost with Board shaken up. 

The Ravens often use a safety such as Anthony Levine as a dime back in passing situations, but inside linebacker is the position the Ravens can least afford a rash of injuries. They will hope that Board's concussion doesn't linger, and they will probably be watching the waiver wire closely.

5. The Ravens secondary depth is already coming into play with Tavon Young's injury.

The Ravens thought enough of Young to give him a three-year, $25 million extension this offseason, but now it looks as if he could miss the entire season for the second time in three years. Young, a fourth-round pick in 2016 out of Temple, missed the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL during OTA workouts.

Harbaugh implied that if Young has surgery as expected, the injury should fully heal but would likely cost him the season. 

Last year, Young, had 36 tackles, two sacks, one interception and two fumble recoveries -- both returned for touchdowns. 

The Ravens came into this season as deep as ever in the secondary, and that depth is quickly coming into play. In Young's absence, veteran Brandon Carr could move to the nickel spot, and Baltimore native Cyrus Jones has played there extensively this preseason. He had an interception return touchdown against Jacksonville and had five tackles and a quarterback hit against the Packers.

"Cyrus has looked good, and we have other guys we work in there," Harbaugh said, noting that just about every cornerback other than starters Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith could be an option there. "You'd rather have Tavon than not have him, but we are blessed at that position with some depth."

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox