It is no secret that for the five years Lamar Jackson has been the quarterback of the Ravens, Baltimore’s receiving group has been one of the team’s most glaring issues.

The Ravens have never had a receiver considered to be among the best in the NFL or a deep group of experienced and talented pass catchers. The closest thing the Ravens had to to a top receiver was Marquise Brown, the Ravens’ last receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards in 2021. But Baltimore traded Brown to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2022 NFL Draft.

While Jackson has had his struggles, the Ravens wide receiver group has never been at the level of many of the top teams in the league. The Cincinnati Bengals, for example, who the Ravens play twice per season, have receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, who are considered among the best at the position, and both amassed over 1,000 yards last season.

Still, the Ravens have always had Mark Andrews.

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Andrews, the Ravens tight end, has been Jackson’s top target since he became a starter in 2018. Since 2018, Andrews has the third-most receiving yards by a tight end (4,313) and the second-most touchdowns (34). But this season, the Ravens have significantly upgraded their receiving group by signing Odell Beckham Jr., drafting Zay Flowers in the first round, and signing Nelson Agholor, to add to a group that already had Rashod Bateman, a first-round pick from 2021.

On paper, the group may still not have a wide receiver considered among the best in the league. Beckham, at his peak, was one of the league’s top receivers, but he has not played in two seasons and is recovering from two knee surgeries at age 30. Nonetheless, the group gives the Ravens multiple proven pass catchers and another first-round pick in Flowers that makes the receiving corps more threatening than it has been during Jackson’s entire career.

The group reminds Andrews of the receivers he played with at the University of Oklahoma, where he was on some of the highest-scoring offenses in Division I.

“You look at the room, it’s a lot of dawgs everywhere,” Andrews said, referring to the team’s upgraded receivers. “And that’s what we played with at Oklahoma, so that’s a beautiful thing, and that’s what this time of year is about — it’s about getting better, having all these personalities meshed together, grinding together.”

Despite Andrew’s success in the offense, he highlighted the importance of spreading the ball out to other receivers, which would make the offense more dynamic. “I know that the guys we have on this roster are able to get open,” Andrews said, “make the big-time catches and all those different things.”

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Roquan Smith doesn’t see flaws in the defense.

Much of the talk about the Ravens ahead of this season has been focused on their splashy offensive upgrades and Lamar Jackson’s new contract, but their defense has equally high expectations.

The Ravens were among the better defenses in the NFL last season, allowing the third least points per game (18.8), and helping the team get into the playoffs, with Lamar Jackson missing their final six games. The Ravens released defensive end Calais Campbell, a locker room leader and an effective rusher last season. Their secondary struggled mightily at points, allowing 229.4 yards per game, the tenth-most in the league. But Smith doesn’t appear to be concerned.

“We’re not weak in any spots,” Smith said. “I like our D-line versus anyone,” he added. “I like our secondary versus anyone. I for sure like our linebackers versus anyone, so when I look at it from that perspective, if we do our jobs and get the ball back to Lamar and the offense, there’s gonna be a lot of great things that’s gonna happen.”

Roster moves

The Ravens made a few roster moves after Tuesday’s media availability. The team officially announced the signings of running back Melvin Gordon and long snapper Tyler Ott. Gordon figures to be in the backfield mix for now with J.K. Dobbins on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start camp. Ott is a replacement for Nick Moore, who was placed on the non-football injury list after reportedly suffering a season-ending Achilles injury.

Baltimore also announced they’ve claimed wide receiver Makai Polk, released veteran receiver Andy Isabella and terminated vested veteran Mike Thomas.

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Polk reunites with the Ravens after spending last season on the Giants practice squad. He originally signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State last summer, before being released in September. He joined the Giants practice squad the next day and eventually received a futures deal from New York.

Baltimore Banner reporter Aron Yohannes contributed to this article.

kris.rhim@thebaltimorebanner.com

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