The competition for a starting job that began with five or six candidates has seemingly been whittled down to two. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, it seems that veteran John Simpson and rookie Malaesala Aumavae-Laula are the final two players fighting for the starting left guard job in 2023.
Simpson appears to be the frontrunner. He has received a good amount of snaps with the first-team offensive line in camp and hasn’t looked out of place. Aumavae-Laula is viewed to have a higher ceiling than Simpson, and while the sixth-round pick out of Oregon has shown less consistency, the staff seems to be open to “letting him learn on the job.” With Simpson receiving the most first-team reps leading up to the regular season, it appears to be his job to lose, but it may be difficult to hold off Aumavae-Laula for long.
On the flipside, it’s a disappointing outcome for former third-round pick Ben Cleveland. After losing the starting battle to Ben Powers last year, the 6-foot-6, 357-pound lineman seems to be on the losing end of the competition for the second straight year. If he can’t show something soon, Cleveland may find himself fighting for a roster spot next summer.
Here are a few more rumors coming out of Baltimore:
- Weeks ago, wide receiver Tylan Wallace was considered a likely candidate to be cut before the start of the regular season. After Wallace only amassed 56 receiving yards over his first two seasons, the additions of Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor, and Zay Flowers made Wallace’s future cut seem like a foregone conclusion. With Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay, among others, set to return, the battle for the WR6 position became a must-win. According to Zrebiec, Wallace responded to the adversity by hiring a new trainer and showing out in the preseason. Wallace has given strong performances in the last two weeks while other fringe receivers like James Proche have seen some rough stretches. There’s no guarantee that Baltimore holds on to six wide receivers, but if they do, Wallace is making a strong case for the job.
- Formerly an undrafted free agent, Ar’Darius Washington has kept at least a spot on the practice squad with the Ravens over his first two NFL seasons as a promising reserve safety and special teamer. According to Zrebiec, though, he has inflated his stock this preseason by shining as a nickel cornerback. His smaller 5-foot-8, 177-pound frame makes some matchups an issue, but Washington has been one of the Ravens’ top performers in the past two weeks and should make a strong case for a roster spot and a true role on the defense.
- Finally, while second-year pass rusher David Ojabo hasn’t stood out much in the team’s preseason games, the Ravens staff is still excited about his development after barely playing coming off an injury as a rookie. According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN, head coach John Harbaugh made a point to say that the addition of veteran edge Jadeveon Clowney would not impact the playing time of Ojabo. “You want to have enough guys,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a lot of snaps…about 1,200 snaps in the season. You need all those guys.”
- Hensley’s colleague at ESPN, Field Yates, also provided us with some details on Clowney’s contract with the Ravens. Along with Clowney’s base contract value of $2.5MM, consisting of a $1.17MM base salary and a $1.34MM signing bonus, Clowney can receive up to $3.5MM of incentives. Specifically, he will earn $500K for five sacks, $1MM for seven sacks, or $1.75MM for nine sacks. The same respective amounts would be paid out if Clowney plays over 50 percent, 60 percent, or 65 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. If he hits full incentives, it would push the total value of his contract up to $6MM. Finally, he will earn a per game active roster bonus of $20K for a potential season total of $340K.