Injuries ravaged the Baltimore Ravens on both sides of the ball during the 2021 NFL season. Yet, nowhere were the absences felt more than in the pass defense.
The Ravens were uncharacteristically generous through the air. Baltimore’s depleted secondary allowed 4,742 yards, the most in the league, as well as 31 touchdown passes.
An inconsistent pass rush was at fault, but the real issue was losing both starting cornerbacks to long-term injuries. The Ravens’ lone true shutdown cover man didn’t play a snap all season after tearing his ACL last September.
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Fortunately for new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, this star cornerback believes he’ll be ready to go in time for training camp.
Elite CB Will Be Ready for Training Camp
Speaking to Sway Calloway of Sway In The Morning, Marcus Peters gave an emphatic answer when asked about a return date. The Baltimore Sun‘s Jonas Shaffer tweeted the video footage of Peters’ reply:
A return around that time would mean Peters is available for minicamps and the start of training camp. He’ll need all the preparation time he can get after not playing a competitive snap since Week 17 of the 2020 season.
To say the Ravens have missed Peters is an understatement. The 29-year-old can still be trusted to matchup against an opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Peters also has an opportunistic streak the Ravens were sorely lacking last year. The defense intercepted just nine passes and forced a mere eight fumbles, according to Pro Football Reference.
At least one of those numbers should jump up with Peters back in the fold. He’s had a knack for getting his hands on the ball, evidenced by snatching 31 interceptions through six seasons.
Having Peters back will be a huge boost for Macdonald, but other figures will also play key roles in revamping what has been a threadbare secondary.
Marlon Humphrey Also Set to Return
Peters wasn’t the only loss the Ravens’ cornerback rotation struggled to withstand last season. His fellow cornerback, Marlon Humphrey, missed the final five games of the campaign because of a pectoral injury.
Like Peters, Humphrey has provided the Ravens a boost by offering a positive update on the status of his rehabilitation. The veteran defensive back talked about his recovery during a recent appearance on NFL Network, with ESPN’s Jamison Hensley retweeting the footage:
Being without two starting cornerbacks hamstrung the Ravens on both sides of the ball. Head coach John Harbaugh admitted as much when he tried to defend the decision to go for two, instead of tying the score with an extra point attempt, during Week 13’s 20-19 loss on the road to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Harbaugh said he didn’t want to play for overtime because of his lack of options in the secondary, per NFL.com Digital Content Producer Jelani Scott: “Trying to win the game right there. We were pretty much out of corners at that point in time. It was an opportunity to try to win the game right there.”
Lacking competent replacements for Peters and Humphrey also meant the Ravens’ blitz schemes suffered. Macdonald’s predecessor, Don Martindale, loved to send pressure, but his daring approach demanded stellar talent on the back end.
That’s something the Ravens can count on once Peters and Humphrey return, but they may need some help. Searching for new help is why the Ravens are being linked with more than one impending free-agent safety.
Among the safeties potentially on the Ravens’ radar, Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash mentioned Houston Texans’ starter Justin Reid. Meanwhile, Kevin Oestreicher of Ravens Wire believes Tyrann Mathieu, who quarterbacks the secondary for the Kansas City Chiefs, makes sense for Baltimore.
Having Peters and Humphrey supported by a standout free safety with range would turn one of the weakest position groups on the roster last season into an obvious strength for the Ravens in 2022.