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5 questions with Baltimore Beatdown: Lamar Jackson is a greater threat in the pocket than on the run

Related: Patriots vs. Ravens preview: Get to know New England’s Week 3 opponent

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting at 1-1, the New England Patriots will play their home opener on Sunday against a familiar opponent: the Baltimore Ravens will come to town in the latest installment of what was once one of the NFL’s most bitter rivalries.

In order to get a better understanding of New England’s Week 3 opponent, we exchanged questions with Kyle Barber of Pats Pulpit’s sister site Baltimore Beatdown — the SB Nation community for all things Ravens. Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have the odds for this week’s games, while Kyle has the answers for our questions.

1. Lamar Jackson has always been a talented and underrated pocket passer, but his pre-snap anticipation and accuracy seem to have improved significantly. What do you see from Jackson in terms of his growth as a passer?

Jackson has become a full-fledged NFL quarterback. When he entered the league, the speculation on him was fair, as he was raw and needed development as a passer. But, in working with the Ravens quarterback coach James Urban and private quarterback coach Adam Dedeaux, he’s become a quarterback who can complete any throw. He can make a tight-window strike to a wide receiver across the middle of the field and also go deep to a drop it into the arms of a full-sprint slot receiver over a safety. It’s quite a testament to Jackson and the Ravens that both worked to develop Jackson’s abilities. I think he’s really become a greater threat in the pocket than on the run, and that’s not to discredit his ability on the ground, but it’s become clear he is a passing quarterback who can easily punish over-pursuing linebackers and defensive linemen.

2. It seems like the Ravens are using more under-center looks and fewer designed runs for Lamar Jackson than we have in the past. Is Greg Roman, dare I say it, evolving?

Don’t say that to Ravens fans who want Roman gone, but I’d say so. Roman has helped to scheme well these past two weeks and it shows. The Ravens entered the regular season with constant questions about the wide receiver group but the Jackson has completed five of his six touchdown passes to his wide receivers. It’s not just the Jackson and Mark Andrews show, sprinkled in with some Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. The Ravens offense has looked challenging to stop. Though, they’ve struggled to get the run game going but I’d argue that’s largely due to the talent at the position and defenses playing so heavily in the box to contain Jackson’s running ability.

3. If the Patriots can contain middle-of-the-field-monster Mark Andrews and explosive wideout Rashod Bateman, who do you see potentially stepping up for Baltimore?

Definitely wide receiver Devin Duvernay. Through two games, Duvernay’s caught all six of his targets for 96 yards and two touchdowns (both in Week 1). He is a guy the Ravens were hoping to break out and he’s done so. There’s also rookie tight end Isaiah Likely that could have a breakout performance. He was a star in training camp and in the preseason, but hasn’t had the same impact thus far. This could be a game to watch for him. It’s certainly a big opportunity if the Patriots blanket Andrews and Bateman.

4. How will old Patriots foe Jason Pierre-Paul compliment the Ravens’ already disruptive front?

It’s unlikely we see Pierre-Paul on the field come Sunday, as his signing was officially announced on Friday. However, I can share about outside linebackers Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh. Houston’s been the No. 1 guy for the Ravens through two games. He’s clearly still got it, generating pressures and sacks in both games this season. However, he’s not capable of playing 49 snaps like he did in Week 2, and lost some steam down the stretch. The Ravens are in trouble at outside linebacker, losing two to torn Achilles’ and are waiting on Tyus Bowser and rookie David Ojabo to return healthy from... coincidentally, torn Achilles injuries.

5. The Ravens have five rookies who’ve seen significant snaps between center Tyler Linderbaum, tight end Isaiah Likely, safety Kyle Hamilton, and cornerbacks Damarion Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis. Which of these players do you see having a significant impact and in what roles?

Linderbaum is the Ravens’ starting center, so I’ll start with him. He had a tough game in Week 1, going up against the Jets’ front. In Week 2, he was more formidable and I think he’s looking good. I’d also put punter Jordan Stout on your list. He had great punts in Week 1 but struggled in Week 2. I expect far better from him against New England.

Hamilton has been heavily involved in three-safety sets but has struggled in coverage and with tackling angles. It’s been a big concern through training camp that he couldn’t win the starting job over incumbent Chuck Clark, who is a good safety but Hamilton was looked as a ‘generational safety talent’ by draft experts and pundits.

If both cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are on pitch counts like they were last week, definitely keep your eyes on the rookie corners Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Armour-Davis. I thought Armour-Davis played well and most of the issues against the Dolphins weren’t on him, though PFF will have you think otherwise.

Bonus question: The Patriots are 3-point underdogs heading into Sunday according to DraftKings. What would need to happen for New England to hand Baltimore a second upset in as many weeks?

A grind-it-out game where the Patriots find success running the ball and stifling drives on the opposite end could be a scenario in which the Ravens lose.

If the Patriots put together a few long drives and get into the end zone, the Ravens will be chasing points and the Patriots defense will know it’s coming, but will have fresh legs to keep the Ravens from putting together the same. It would challenge their depth at outside linebacker and settling for long Justin Tucker field goals simply wouldn’t be enough.