John Harbaugh Says Ravens Rookies Are “Playing At A High Level”

Ravens HC John Harbaugh

Getty The Ravens have gotten great contributions from some of their first-year players.

While it is typical for many first-year players to hit the proverbial ‘rookie wall’ half or three quarters through their inaugural seasons in the NFL, several members of the Baltimore Ravens‘ 2022 draft class are just starting to hit their stride. Against the Tampa Buccaneers in Week 8, safety Kyle Hamilton, center Tyler Linderbaum, and tight end Isaiah Likely all played vital roles in the team prevailing 27-22 to notch a consecutive victory for the first time this season.

“They’re all playing kind of at a high level for where they’re at,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a press conference on October 31, 2022. “They’re just starting out; I know they’re young guys. They’re halfway through their rookie season now. All three of those guys – in their own right – are doing some really good things out there.

According to Pro Football Focus, two of the Ravens’ highest-graded players from the game were first-year pros led by their fourth-round gem out of Coastal Carolina.

Likely stole the show and shined the brightest with his breakout game in which he played a season-high 51 offensive snaps and finished with a team-leading 77 receiving yards, tied for the team lead in receptions with six, and scored his first career touchdown.

“To see Isaiah step up finally … Not that he wasn’t playing well, he was playing well, but now he had some real opportunities to make some plays and made them for us,” Harbaugh said.

The Ravens have also gotten plenty of meaningful contributions and playing time from offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, cornerback Pepe Williams, defensive tackle Travis Jones, and starting punter Jordan Stout during their 5-3 start to the 2022 season.

“We’re happy with all those guys,” Harbaugh said.

Tyler Linderbaum Continues To Impress

As impressive as Likely’s contributions were in Week 8, one could argue that the Ravens’ rookie center had an even more profound impact on them emerging victorious. Harbaugh praised the way he performed against a pair of Pro Bowlers in the Buccaneers’ defensive tackle Vita Vea and inside linebacker Devin White.

“He blocked really well in a lot of ways,” he said. “He’s going up against one of the best nose guards in football, and I think he might have gotten him one time, but [Tyler] settled down and played great, blocked on the second level [and] was excellent.”

Harbaugh was especially impressed with how the first-year interior offensive lineman handled the primary responsibility of his position with an elite opponent barring down on him almost every play, snapping duties. He even went as far as to call it the “unsung part” of his outstanding performance.

“Those snaps were right there with a really good nose guard lined up over him, so he played exceptionally well,” Harbaugh added.

Kyle Hamilton’s Role Continues To Expand

The Ravens’ top pick in this year’s draft played 36 total defensive snaps against the Buccaneers which was his third-highest total of the season and most since his infamous outing in Week 2. The team is still experimenting with the plethora of ways in which he can be deployed and Harbaugh likes how he is growing as his role expands in the defense.

“We’re kind of figuring out where he fits in what we’re doing, and he stepped up and made some excellent plays,” he said.

One particular play that Harbaugh brought up as a prime example of Hamilton’s talent and how far he has come following a rough start to the year was a pass he kept from being completed to Buccaneers’ rookie tight end Cade Otton. He was covering him tightly in the red zone and batted the throw away as it arrived.

“That coverage on the goal line where he knocked the ball away, it just can’t be done any better than that,” Harbaugh said.

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