Ravens ‘D’ Has Been Nasty

League’s sec­ond-ranked unit set to take on Cleve­land’s gun­sling­ing rookie QB

Sunday Star - - SPORTS -

CLEVE­LAND (AP) — Baker May­field’s first NFL start came inside Oak­land’s no­to­ri­ous Black Hole.

No. 2 will be against some nasty black birds.

It can only get eas­ier af­ter this.

The top over­all pick in this year’s draft, May­field faces a ma­jor chal­lenge in his first ca­reer home start on Sun­day as the Browns host the Ravens. Bal­ti­more’s rav­en­ous, sec­ond-ranked de­fense has not given up a touch­down in the sec­ond half this season and made Steel­ers star QB Ben Roeth­lis­berger look lost last week.

Now they get a rookie to feast upon.

May­field knows what awaits him.

“Bal­ti­more has ob­vi­ously been his­tor­i­cally a great de­fen­sive fran­chise,” he said. “They trust what they are good at, and they are go­ing to run it. They are play­ing well right now. I ex­pect them to con­tinue to do what they are good at and also throw a cou­ple of wrin­kles in there for me.”

For the most part, May­field han­dled ev­ery­thing the Raiders threw his way a week ago in his first ca­reer start, a 45-42 loss in over­time. Show­ing some of the same poise and play­mak­ing abil­ity that made him a col­lege star, May­field passed for 295 yards and two touch­downs. How­ever, he com­mit­ted four turnovers and the Browns (1-2-1) blew a 14-point lead in the sec­ond half and dropped to 2-33-1 in coach Hue Jack­son’s ten­ure.

Still, May­field, who came off the bench on Sept. 20 against the Jets and led the Browns to their first win since 2016, han­dled the ad­ver­sity like a sea­soned pro and con­verted a few more doubters into be­liev­ers.

The Browns may have fi­nally found their leader.

“I think Baker May­field is this gen­er­a­tion’s Brett Favre or John El­way, if you will,” Ravens de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Don Martin­dale said. “This guy knows where he wants to go with the ball, and he’s very ac­cu­rate, has a quick re­lease. He’s re­ally play­ing well. Ob­vi­ously, he’s play­ing well be­cause they scored 42 points last week against Oak­land, and they

are the Top 5 of scor­ing of­fense. So, I think he’s done a nice job fill­ing in, and it seems like they have more rhythm with him as a rookie, ev­ery play he’s in there.”

May­field’s about to face a de­fense like he’s never seen. Browns of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Ha­ley knows the Ravens well. Af­ter spend­ing six sea­sons with Pitts­burgh go­ing up against Bal­ti­more’s tena­cious de­fense twice a season, Ha­ley smiled when told about Martin­dale’s praise of his young QB.

“He’s carv­ing a (Pro Foot­ball

Hall of Fame) bust?” Ha­ley said. “I will hold my stance. I am ex­cited about a lot of the things that he is do­ing. This week will be a real test. We will know a lot more come Sun­day even­ing.”

INSIDE INFO Look­ing to get an ad­van­tage on May­field, the Ravens watched tapes of his games at Ok­la­homa and grilled tight end Mark An­drews and tackle Or­lando Brown Jr., who were team­mates with the Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner.

“There’s re­ally not that much that those guys can tell you,” coach John Har­baugh said. “You kind of talk about it, but I can’t re­ally say we’ve got­ten any great

in­for­ma­tion that way, to be hon­est with you. Hon­estly, I thought we’d get more.”

Asked if he watched HBO’s “Hard Knocks” to learn more about the Browns, Har­baugh shook his head. May­field was promi­nently fea­tured on the doc­u­men­tary se­ries this sum­mer.

“I never watch ‘Hard Knocks.’ Nope. Not a fan, not in­ter­ested,” he said, per­haps send­ing a mes­sage he doesn’t want to be con­sid­ered for the se­ries in the fu­ture. “Couldn’t care less about ‘Hard Knocks,’ just for the record.”

ROLLING ROOKIE The Browns aren’t giv­ing rookie Nick Chubb nearly

enough touches. They know it.

“He has to get some,” Jack­son said af­ter Chubb rushed for 105 yards on just three car­ries, and scored on two long r uns last week. The Browns in­tend to in­crease his work­load this week, mix­ing Chubb in with Car­los Hyde, who has scored five touch­downs but isn’t a break­away threat.

Chubb has made the most of his 10 car­ries, rush­ing for 146 yards. Ac­cord­ing to Elias, Chubb is the first back in league his­tory to rush for 100 yards and score two TDs on three runs.

SU­PER JOE

If Ravens quar­ter­back Joe Flacco’s first four games are

any in­di­ca­tion, he’s go­ing to have a fab­u­lous season. He’s thrown for 1,252 yards, eight touch­downs and just two in­ter­cep­tions and has quickly de­vel­oped chem­istry with new receivers Wil­lie Snead, Michael Crab­tree and Jon Brown.

Still, with 12 games left, Flacco and Har­baugh are not look­ing too far ahead.

“Through four games, it’s a quar­ter of the season. You could say we’re on sched­ule, but we’re never sat­is­fied,” Har­baugh said. “We have a lot of work to do.” Flacco agrees. “We’re only four games in,” he noted. “Ob­vi­ously, we like some of the stuff we’re do­ing. We can get bet­ter at a

lot of stuff, like al­ways.” TOUGH AS­SIGN­MENT For Browns rookie left tackle Des­mond Har­ri­son, Sun­day’s matchup with Pro Bowler Ter­rell Suggs will be a mea­sur­ing stick. Hope­fully, Suggs doesn’t use it on him.

Har­ri­son has sought ad­vice from re­tired Browns star Joe Thomas, who had epic bat­tles with Suggs over the years. The un­drafted free agent in­sists he’s not ner­vous about try­ing to block one of the league’s best de­fend­ers.

“I’m just go­ing to play my game, how I play ev­ery week­end, not go­ing to tr y to do any­thing dif­fer­ent, just stick to the script,” he said.

AP PHOTO

Ravens cor­ner­back Mar­lon Humphrey waves a towel from the side­lines dur­ing the sec­ond half of last Sun­day’s game against the Steel­ers.

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