The Baltimore Ravens will be hitting the road to close out Week 9 with an interconference matchup with the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football but will be doing so without their top weapon in the passing game. For the first time in his five-year career, All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews will miss a game due to injury after being downgraded from doubtful on the final injury report to out and will not travel with the team per their official announcement.
The two-time Pro Bowler sat out the entire week of practice with a knee and shoulder injury that he sustained in the past two games. Fortunately, he will get some extra time to recover before the team’s next game since the Ravens will be on a bye in Week 10 before hosting the Carolina Panthers in Week 11.
Andrews leads the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (488), and receiving touchdowns (five) and is starting quarterback Lamar Jackson’s most trusted target in the passing game whenever he’s on the field no matter the down and distance.
While not having him is unfortunate, the Ravens’ cupboard is not bare at the tight end position and Andrews being ruled out opens the door for rookie Isaiah Likely to make his first career start. The fourth-rounder is coming off a breakout performance in Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he showed all the tantalizing promise he flashed in preseason and training camp.
“It was great to see – great to see him finally get his chance and opportunity to do what he does,” Jackson in a press conference on November 3, 2022. “We will need a lot more out of him, though. So, he’s just got to keep going.”
Veterans Prepared to Step Up After Loss of Top Wideout
Another player that was ruled out for this week is second-year pro Rashod Bateman who will miss the remainder of the season after electing to undergo season-ending Lisfranc foot surgery. He was the Ravens’ No. 1 wide receiver and in the wake of losing him for the year, they will need to rely on their other options at the position.
A pair of receivers that are ready to seize the opportunity to rise to the occasion are veterans DeSean Jackson and Demarcus Robinson. The Ravens signed Jackson to the practice squad in October and he is expected to be elevated this week and make his 2022 debut against the Saints.
“If I get the call,[comma] for sure I’ll be ready,” Jackson said in a press conference on November 3, 2022. “It’s not my decision, I’m just here taking it day by day getting ready, getting my shape and my body in the best position to go out there and be productive.
Even well into his mid-30s, the former three-time Pro Bowler still possesses the blazing speed to take the top off opposing defenses and stretch them vertically. Bateman was the Ravens’ top deep threat in the passing game this season with a team-leading average of 19 yards per catch. Jackson believes he can help offset some of the loss that his absence creates in that aspect of the offense.
Robinson has been with the team since August and has appeared in every game of the regular season thus far, recording 15 receptions on 25 targets for 140 receiving yards and a touchdown. He is coming off his best game of the year thus far where he recorded six receptions for 66 receiving yards and is looking to build off of it going forward.
“Just trying to do what I did last game – stay in the mix and try to make a couple plays so I can help the team win,” Robinson told reporters on November 2, 2022. “It’s just capitalizing on opportunities whenever you get a chance to touch the ball.”
He has been a solid possession receiver with a deceptive run-after-catch ability when thrown to as his chemistry with Lamar Jackson continues to grow.
“We’ve been working a lot these past couple weeks and I feel like it’s definitely coming along now stronger than it has been,” Robinson said. “We’re going to try to keep that going, for sure.”
Ravens Key Matchups vs. Saints
Ravens ILBs v Alvin Kamara
The five-time Pro Bowler is the Saints’ top running back and No. 2 wide receiver rolled up into one and will be a handful for both Patrick Queen and newly acquired Roquan Smith in his first game as a Raven. They will have their hands full trying to contain him in space every time he gets the ball in his hands whether it’s at, behind, or beyond the line of scrimmage on a traditional handoff or reception. Smith could be the main one assigned to him coverage down when he lines up as a receiver given his more natural feel and prowess for the passing game.
Morgan Moses v Saints Cameron Jordan
The Ravens will likely deploy another run-heavy gameplan but this week, they might just decide to pound the rock from start to finish instead of flipping the script at halftime as they did against the Buccaneers in Week 8. Although when they do decide to dial up a passing play, the matchup between the two veterans who are having strong seasons will be fun to watch. Jordan is tied for his team’s lead in sacks with five and Moses is coming off his best game of the season where he allowed just one pressure on 41 pass-blocking snaps and scored a 90.0-plus grade as a run blocker according to Pro Football Focus.
Tyler Linderbaum v Damario Davis
In Week 8, the Ravens starting rookie center had his best game of the year thus far by climbing to the second level and making several highlight blocks against Buccaneers’ Pro Bowl inside linebacker Devin White. He’ll have another chance to prove himself against one of the league’s best this week when he has to lock horns with the Saints’ three-time All-Pro selection. Davis doesn’t lead his team in tackles but is their most complete inside linebacker and is especially dangerous as blitzer with five sacks and seven quarterback hits.
Marlon Humphrey v Chris Olave
The Saints also lost their No.1 wide receiver to a season-ending injury this past week as Michael Thomas will miss the rest of the year with a toe injury. However, while the two-time All-Pro is their most high-profile player at the position, their most impressive and productive this year is their first-round rookie.
Olave leads the Saints in targets (63), receptions (37), and receiving yards (547) according to Pro Football Reference. Since they line him up inside the slot as well as outwide on the perimeter, the Ravens All-Pro cornerback will likely be the one assigned to him in coverage early and often since he often bumps inside to the nickel spot when opposing offenses deploy wide receiver sets of three or more and is having another outstanding season.