The Baltimore Ravens got very positive news on Thursday’ August 3, 2023, regarding the health status of veteran cornerback Rock Ya-Sin who left practice early on Wednesday with a knee injury. According to ESPN beat reporter Jamison Hensley, further testing results indicated that he “did not suffer a major knee injury.”
Initially told reporters on the day of the injury that the injury was “not a serious thing” and thankfully, he wound up being right. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported via a source that Ya-Sin not only didn’t tear any tendons or ligaments in his but that structurally, it appears sound.”
Ya-Sin was the first post-draft free-agent acquisition that the Ravens made the week following the annual event. They signed him to a one-year deal worth $4 million and he is projected to be the starting opposite of three-time Pro Bowler Marlon Humphrey.
The spot was previously held by three-time Pro Bowler Marcus Peters but the team decided to move on from him this offseason in favor of a younger option. Ya-Sin certainly isn’t the same ballhawk that his predecessor has been during his career but at 27 years and 38 career starts under his belt, he’s still an ascending player who was having a strong training camp prior to his minor setback.
Dark Horse Candidate is ‘Pushing’ Veteran For Starting Job
While Ya-Sin is the front-runner to start opposite Humphrey, nothing is solidified, and according to Ravens Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach Chris Hewitt, a promising second-year pro is still in the running for the job and is looking impressive while doing it.
“Right now, [Ya-Sin’s] got the nod, but Jalyn Armour-Davis, he’s pushing him as well,” Hewitt said on August 1, 2023. “I look for big things from him coming up. It’s going to be a competition throughout the whole training camp.”
Armour-Davis was one of the Ravens’ six picks in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft but was limited to four games, one start, and just 50 total defensive snaps as a rookie by a hip injury that landed him on injured reserve.
After Ya-Sin went down, he was the first man up to receive reps with the first-team defense and “handled the responsibility well” according to a report from team reporter Ryan Mink. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald also praised Armour-Davis for his diverse skillset and stressed how important it is for him to make the most of the extra first-time reps he’ll be receiving while the veteran is out with injury.
Jalyn [Armour-Davis] is a guy that we were really excited [about] when we drafted him. He’s got a lot of ability, and he’s a very smart player. He’s versatile; he can play multiple spots. But this is an opportunity for him to go show what he can do and see if he can earn himself a job. So, [the] opportunity is out there.”
Recent Addition is Providing ‘Fire’ to Key Position Battle
Another player that stepped up in practice after Ya-Sin went down on Wednesday according to reports was veteran Arthur Maulet who was signed the week prior On July 24, 2023 and is already turning heads and receiving praise from his coaches.
“He has great energy and provides a little fire to the nickel position out there,” Macdonald said. “[There are] a lot of things that we’ve done that are not so consistent with how he’s done things, so, considering that learning curve, [I’m] actually impressed with how fast he’s picked everything up. But [he’s] just a fun guy to be around and [is] just attacking what we’re asking him to do.”
Maulet is a former undrafted free agent heading into his seventh year in the league and spent the last two seasons playing predominantly in the slot against the Ravens as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is coming off the most productive season of his career in which recorded career highs in total tackles (59), sacks (2), starts (6), and games played (17) per PFR.
With second-year defensive back Kyle Hamilton focusing more on making a full-time transition to safety, the Ravens need to find a new nickel defender to fill his role. Maulet’s chief competition for the role includes a diverse pool of candidates that include second-year pro Damarion ‘Pepe’ Williams, third-year pro Ar’Darius Washington, and corner/safety hybrid Brandon Stephens.
“He’s picked up on the defense really fast,” Hewitt said. “Along with that, he’s a guy who, again, is very physical. He’s a great communicator. He stays ahead of the play. He sees formations [and] calls it out. [He’s a] veteran player. So, we’ll see what happens.”