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5 Questions with Baltimore Beatdown: Jaguars vs. Ravens Preseason Opener

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars football is back! Albeit preseason football, tonight provides our first look at the 2019 Jaguars squad, as the team takes on the Baltimore Ravens at 7:30 p.m. EST at M&T Bank Stadium.

This also means it’s time for our first cross-site Q&A of the season. To help us understand Jacksonville’s opponent better, I reached out to Kyle Barber, managing editor at Baltimore Beatdown — SB Nation’s quintessential Ravens website.

Here is what he had to say:

1. Obviously, all eyes are on Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. How has he looked throughout training camp thus far, and has he progressed as a passer at all? Should we expect a similar style of play from last season?

Kyle: Lamar was a decent passer last year but the (Marty) Mornhinweg scheme was all about the rushing attack. That being said, he’s certainly progressed as a passer. He’s keying in on multiple reads and hitting his targets in stride and has the “touch” that you didn’t quite see last year.

2. The Ravens drafted Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in the first round this year. He underwent foot surgery in the offseason and just recently started practicing. How do you think the Ravens plan to use Brown this season, and are you expecting the foot injury to be an issue this season?

Kyle: I’m not expecting the foot to be an issue this season once he’s playing. As of right now, he has not participated in team drills. He’s only been catching passes during individual drills without a defender. I believe the Ravens are playing this with caution after the clown show of Breshad Perriman’s career with Baltimore when they drafted him back in 2015.

The Ravens will utilize his speed and agility with jet-sweeps and short crossing routes to get him in space. I also expect screen passes to be a big part of his game. I do, however, want to remind everybody that he doesn’t look like Tavon Austin with the gadget play. He’s obviously an NFL wide receiver and he won’t just be used in play designs. He’s more than capable of running a full route tree from the slot and on the outside. From his college tape you can tell he’s lethal with the football in his hands and three yards of running room. I don’t know if I’ve seen a faster person, in person, in my lifetime. Watching his acceleration and top speed is appalling.

3. Are there any under-the-radar players or undrafted free agents Jaguars fans should keep an eye on throughout the week or during that game that you’re excited to watch?

Kyle: For under-the-radar players, watch for Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser. Both are the second-string pass rushers who are looking to break out in Year 3 of their NFL careers. After sitting behind Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon, one or both of them need to step up and start making plays.

For undrafted free agent rookies, watch for LB Otaro Alaka and DT Gerald Willis. Linebacker coach Mike Macdonald stated Alaka was winning the linebacker competition between the three UDFA backers on the roster right now and Willis was a possible draft pick who plummeted in 2019. He could be the backup three-tech behind Willie Henry.

4. What are your expectations for the Ravens in 2019 (record, division standing, playoffs, milestones, etc.).

Kyle: I don’t usually do too much for numbers as there are so many variables, but to answer your question I believe this team can and will compete for a playoff spot and the division title with the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

5. While it is hard to predict who is actually going to play, and for how long, in the first preseason game, are there any particular matchups you are looking forward to between the Jaguars and Ravens on Thursday?

Kyle: I’m really going to watch for the position battles on the Ravens roster. I want to see how left guard plays out, whether it is Jermaine Eluemunor, James Hurst or rookie Ben Powers. Also, my staff knows how I care so much about special teams, so I want to watch this team in kickoff and punt return defense. This is usually a sign of players landing on the final 53-man roster, too, as special teams are how those last four or five guys demonstrate their value for the coaching staff.

Thank you to Kyle for providing insights and analysis on the Ravens. You can catch him on Twitter, and to keep up with what’s going on in Baltimore, check out Baltimore Beatdown — who had great coverage of the joint practices between the two teams this week— as well.