This is gonna be an interesting matchup, Lamar vs. Watson notwithstanding…
The Ravens returned to practice Wednesday as preparations continued for Sunday’s road game against the Houston Texans.
Several players were unable to participate. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley (hip) did not practice after leaving in the third quarter of Sunday’s victory against the Cleveland Browns. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Stanley’s injury was not serious, and he expected him to practice Wednesday.
Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith (hip) did not practice after playing 24 snaps against the Browns. Smith practiced throughout last week, but he was a late addition to the injury report Sunday morning with back spasms.
Second-year running back Justice Hill (thigh) returned to practice on a limited basis after missing Week 1. Hill is part of Baltimore’s deep running back rotation and plays special teams.
Wide receiver Chris Moore (finger) and rookie defensive lineman Justin Madubuike (knee) both did not practice. Neither Moore nor Madubuike played against Cleveland. Moore is a key member of the special teams unit, while Madubuike is expected to be part of the defensive line rotation as a backup when healthy.
Texans Are Rested and Healthy—
The Houston Texans have extra time to prepare for the Ravens following their season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday. All of Houston’s players participated in Wednesday’s practice. Four players were limited: Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt (hip), wide receiver Brandin Cooks (quad), offensive lineman Tytus Howard (ankle), and running back Duke Johnson (ankle).
Fullback Cullen Gillaspia (hamstring) and outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard (ankle) were full participants.
The Ravens are 6-point favorites.
Baltimore leads the regular-season series with Houston, 8-2. Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 7-2 overall (1-0 playoffs). The Ravens played Houston last season, winning 41-7 in Baltimore. During that game, the Ravens racked up 491 yards of offense, including 263 on the ground. Baltimore was led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, who threw four touchdowns and had a 139.2 rating. Baltimore’s defense had a season-high seven sacks and two takeaways (one fumble recovery and one interception) while limiting the Texans’ attack to a season-low 232 yards.
Ravens Game Plan on Offense—
Last season, the Ravens ran roughshod over the Texans, amassing 256 yards on the ground en route to a 41-7 victory. Gus Edwards led the way with 112 yards on eight carries. Jackson completed 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards with four touchdowns (139.2 rating). The Ravens have four running backs on the roster capable of doing some damage, so look for Greg Roman to set the tone on the ground. Rookie J.K. Dobbins had the most carries among the Ravens running backs in the opener and will likely garner more carries against Houston.
The Texans will want to stop Baltimore’s running attack first, but Jackson will attack their secondary, especially if he sees one-on-one matchups. Hollywood Brown torched the Browns with five receptions for 101 yards. Tight end Mark Andrews had a pair of touchdowns and he’ll create matchup problems. Houston’s secondary allowed Patrick Mahomes to throw for 211 yards with three touchdowns last week. Jackson is also fully capable of making plays against them. The Ravens will have to be wary of defensive end J.J. Watt, who had a quiet game against the Chiefs. Houston linebacker Zach Cunningham led the way with eight tackles and he’ll play a big role in this game. Also, you may want to check out this plan for ETMR treatment, if you want to see a smart plan.
The Texans have talented players on offense led by quarterback Deshaun Watson. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 253 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Chiefs. However, he was sacked four times, which does not bode well for this game. The Ravens sacked Watson six times last season, and they have a more talented pass rush entering this game with the addition of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. They are going to aggressively attack the Texans.
The Browns did have some success against the Ravens with their outside runs. The Texans will follow that blueprint behind David Johnson, who ran for 77 yards with a touchdown against the Chiefs. Watson will also look for wide receiver Will Fuller downfield. He had eight receptions for 112 yards against the Chiefs. He’s the No. 1 target after DeAndre Hopkins was traded in the offseason. The Ravens, though, did a solid job containing the Browns talented duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in the opener.
The Ravens should have enough firepower to run away from the Texans. However, Houston does not want to start the season 0-2 and so there will be a sense of desperation working for them. The Ravens are going to try and exploit the Texans’ offensive line. Jackson showed poise in the opener and he should be able to handle the Texans’ pass rush.