When the Baltimore Ravens host the Carolina Panthers in Week 11 at M&T Bank Stadium for an interconference, their defense will be facing a familiar foe. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, former Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield will be under center for Carolina’s offense per an announcement from Panthers’ interim head coach Steve Wilks after an MRI revealed that starter PJ Walker suffered a high ankle sprain.
Mayfield was traded from the Browns to the Panthers this past summer in July and opened the season as the starting quarterback in Carolina before getting replaced by Walker. He was originally drafted No. 1 overall in 2018 out of Oklahoma and 59 of 60 games for the team from 2018 to 2021 including eight against the Ravens.
“[I have] a lot of respect for Baker Mayfield,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said in a press conference on November 14, 2022. “We’ve had some incredible battles with him when he was with the Browns – some great games. We know what he’s capable of doing, we understand his strengths as a quarterback, and we’re going to have to do everything we can to stop those things.”
The Ravens were 5-3 against the Browns during his tenure as the starter and he has thrown 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions in those games. Mayfield opened the 2022 season as the Panthers’ starting quarterback for the first five games before suffering an ankle injury and getting replaced by Walker following a 1-4 start.
Tyus Bowser Looked Like Old Self in 2022 Debut
The Ravens’ leader in sacks last season appeared in his first game last week in the team’s win over the New Orleans Saints and while he didn’t record a sack, the sixth-year veteran was still very active and disruptive. He played nearly 70% of the team’s total defensive snaps in his first game action since suffering a torn Achilles in the team’s 2021 regular-season finale and looked like he was in pre-injury form.
“Tyus played very well,” Harbaugh said. “He was active, fast, versatile like we know. He did a lot of different things well. I thought he played excellent – like he hadn’t even missed any time at all, really – so that’s a good sign.”
In 34 snaps, Bowser recorded two pressures, one knockdown, and one hurry. He didn’t waste any time making his presence felt by recording his first impactful play on a drive-ending pressure. He came unblocked off the edge to force Saints’ quarterback Andy Dalton into throwing the ball away on a short incompletion resulting in a punt on the opening possession of the game.
He will only continue to improve each week as he gets more acclimated to playing the same or perhaps an even heavier workload depending on a specific game plan on any given week. His versatility to drop into coverage is another valuable skill he possesses that isn’t always on display unless the player he’s covering gets targeted. He is capable of taking away opposing quarterback’s shallow to intermediate options in the passing game as well as reading their eyes and making plays on the ball before it gets to the intended target.
Recently Activated Rookies Will Play When Ready
The Ravens have had eight members of their 11-man draft class see the field this season. Of the three who haven’t, sixth-round running back Tyler Badie is the only one who has been healthy over that span while on the practice squad. The other two are second-round outside linebacker David Ojabo and fourth-round tight end, Charlie Kolar.
Both players were activated to the 53-man roster prior to the team’s bye week and will be playing at some point during the second half of the season. Whether that is this upcoming week against the Panthers remains to be seen but neither will be active for a game before the team believes they are ready.
“He [Ojabo] hasn’t played. He wasn’t in training camp at all; you look at Charlie the same way,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll put them out there when we think they’re ready…when we feel they’re ready to be successful, and that could be soon.”
One first-year pro that has played and made an impact in every game this season thus far is starting center Tyler Linderbaum. The first-rounder out of Iowa has had a very strong start to the year and earned high praise from coaches and teammates as well as top analysts. However, he isn’t patting himself on the back for what he has done but is rather staying locked in and trying to improve his craft while helping his team succeed each week.
“Coming back, it’s time to refocus and get ready for the Carolina Panthers,” Linderbaum said in a press conference on November 14, 2022. “With each game you build confidence, but it’s a new week every week. You’re only as good as your last snap. Just coming in with that mindset, getting better in practice, continue to work on the little things. I’ve got to go out there and prove it each week.”
The Ravens have leaned heavily on their rookie class at times this year and will continue to do so going forward as more of them and some of their other injured players get healthy. Linderbaum sees all of the experiences the group has gained thus far as lessons to learn from and improve upon as they strive to get better together.
“A lot of young guys on this team play a big role,” Linderbaum said. “(We) learn from the good things and the bad things, learn from each other.”