The only bad news for Ravens fans and for Tavon Young fans coming in the aftermath of a PS2 26-13 win over the Packers is the kid is going to miss another season due to injury. This is sad because Young is possibly the best inside slot corner in the league.
“Tavon has a more serious issue than we thought,” HC John Harbaugh said. “He has a neck issue. Doctors can explain it, but it’s a disc issue. That’s a serious injury. He could be out for the remainder of the season. We’ll know soon, but it doesn’t look good for Tavon.”
The Ravens signed Young to a three-year contract in February, making him the highest-paid nickel cornerback in the league at the time. He’s one of the top players in the league at that difficult job.
“It’s very tough,” safety Earl Thomas III said. “You’re talking about a Pro Bowl-caliber guy. I feel like he was just coming into his own. The thing that’s going to challenge us is we don’t really have any weak links. Cyrus Jones is going to step right in and do a great job for us, too.”
Jones has played with the first-team defense since Young left practice and started Thursday night’s game against the Packers.
The 2016 second-round pick of the New England Patriots was a top-flight cornerback in college at Alabama, though he’s made most of his impact so far as a returner in the NFL. Now he’ll get his chance to show more of what he can do on defense.
Jones saw plenty of action against the Packers and finished with three tackles. He also showed his prowess as a blitzer on one play in the second quarter.
“He has looked good,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the thing that makes us feel good about it. Cyrus has looked good, and we have other guys we work in there. Most of our corners play nickel, except for our two starters [Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey]. … We’d rather have Tavon than not have him, but we are blessed at that position with some depth.”
Veteran Brandon Carr has also been practicing some at nickel cornerback during the preseason and Maurice Canady also has experience in the slot.
Meanwhile the Ravens’ fourth-round pick in 2019 was the team’s leading rusher during a 26-13 victory with 49 yards on 10 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run that showed Justice Hill can do more than just outrun defenders.
Hill was hit short of the goal line on his touchdown run, but he broke one tackle, sidestepped another Packers player, and powered his way into the end zone. He was tough to bring down all night, showing a part of his game that wasn’t always talked about prior to the draft.
“Everybody’s a little bit faster; it’s a transition from college to here,” Hill said. “So I have to be a little bit faster, too. At the end of the day, it’s still football. I really don’t approach it any differently.”
However, Hill was excited to score his first NFL touchdown, even during a preseason game.
“It was great feeling,” Hill said. “Playing running back, you’ve got to be able to break some tackles, and I was able to do that.”
“He really made some runs, didn’t he?” Harbaugh said. “He made some tough runs. He had some speed runs, too, where he accelerated, but he had some tough runs. The one on the goal line, he had one where he was hemmed up and he broke a couple of tackles there for a first down. He had a good night.”
To be fair the Packers were sitting out a lot of their top defenders and offensive players as well, including Aaron Rodgers, who was held out of the game due to back spasms.
Ravens starting QB Lamar Jackson, on the other hand, needed the work. Coming off a rookie season in which he didn’t start until mid-November, Jackson is seeking to master a new playbook devised by first-year coordinator Greg Roman.
Jackson started and played three series last week in a 29-0 rout of Jacksonville. This time, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner stuck around for two possessions, both of which ended with field goals. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 58 yards and ran twice for 14 yards.
His best play displayed both his speed and elusiveness, but ultimately went for naught. On third-and-10 from the Green Bay 18, Jackson thrust forward from the pocket, sidestepped Tramon Williams and jumped over Jaire Alexander at the 5. He then high-stepped through the end zone before handing the ball to a fan.
Instead of being horrified at seeing his standout quarterback frolicking in the middle of the field, coach John Harbaugh loved it.
“It’s not like he’s trying to run, but sometimes, what are you going to do?” Harbaugh said. “You can’t hold him back forever.”
Jackson has no intention of standing in the pocket when there’s a wide-open field in front of him.
“The four-man rush gave me a lane, our receivers were covered and I just did what I do best,” he said.
The play was called back because of an illegal block by Willie Snead, and Baltimore (2-0) settled for the second of Justin Tucker‘s four field goals.
Rodgers has played 165 regular-season games since breaking into the league in 2005, so there was really no pressing need to get him into a game three weeks before the Sept. 5 opener against Chicago.
Maybe Rodgers will get to play next week. If not, the Packers will make do without him this month.
“I think we’d like to see him, but you’re talking about a veteran quarterback that’s played a lot of football,” new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said. “I don’t think it’s a necessity, but it’s certainly something we’d like to see.”
Rodgers exchanged pleasantries after the game with Jackson, but declined to talk with the media.
Green Bay (1-1) got its lone touchdown in the third quarter on a 7-yard pass from Boyle to rookie Darrius Shepherd.
G.O.A.T. —- Jackson couldn’t resist talking to Rodgers after the final whistle.
“I was like, `What’s up, G.O.A.T?” Jackson said, using an acronym for Greatest Of All Time. “There are a lot of G.O.A.T.s out here, but it is Aaron Rodgers, so I have to show my respect. It was pretty cool seeing him.”
INJURIES— Besides losing Tavon Young, Ravens LB Chris Board sustained a concussion in the second quarter.
By the way, that young QB McSorley looked pretty fab in relief of Jackson.
|Passing 1st downs||10||6|
|Rushing 1st downs||1||10|
|1st downs from penalties||0||1|
|3rd down efficiency||3-12||5-15|
|4th down efficiency||0-1||2-2|
|Yards per Play||4.2||5.4|
|Yards per pass||4.8||6.4|
|Yards per rush||3.1||4.6|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||1-2||1-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
Justin Tucker 52 Yd Field Goal
10 plays, 41 yards, 4:25
Justin Tucker 45 Yd Field Goal
12 plays, 34 yards, 6:00
Mason Crosby 43 Yd Field Goal
9 plays, 50 yards, 3:14
Chris Moore 23 Yd pass from Trace McSorley (Justin Tucker Kick)
9 plays, 64 yards, 4:25
Sam Ficken 41 Yd Field Goal
6 plays, 10 yards, 1:03
Justice Hill 1 Yd Run (Justin Tucker Kick)
2 plays, 6 yards, 0:38
Darrius Shepherd 7 Yd pass from Tim Boyle (Mason Crosby Kick)
7 plays, 84 yards, 3:52
Justin Tucker 41 Yd Field Goal
10 plays, 50 yards, 5:30
Justin Tucker 38 Yd Field Goal
8 plays, 39 yards, 3:26