Ja’Marr Chase was the catalyst for the Cincinnati Bengals making an unlikely run to Super Bowl LVI last season. The Baltimore Ravens don’t have a wide receiver as dynamic as Chase, but the Bengals’ AFC North rivals have one rookie tipped to make a similar impact in this season’s playoffs.
It was in the postseason where Chase went from record-breaking rookie to game-breaking weapon. His back-to-back 100-yard performances helped the Bengals overcome the Las Vegas Raiders and upset the Tennessee Titans, en route to facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 30, 2022
The Ravens shouldn’t expect similar contributions from their passing game if they’re in the thick of the action come playoff time, and they should expect to be after a 6-3 start. Fortunately, these Ravens can rely instead on a punishing ground game powered by a rookie who is involved “front and center” in what his offense does best.
Rookie with Most Touches Vital for Ravens
Tyler Linderbaum is more than living up to his billing as the 25th player taken in this year’s NFL draft. The first-year center is the Ravens rookie chosen by CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards as the player capable of making a Chase-like “level of an impact this season.”
Edwards bases his argument on Linderbaum’s contribution to Baltimore’s ground attack: “Other than quarterback Lamar Jackson, Linderbaum is the only player on the Ravens offense to touch the ball every play. Baltimore’s offensive identity revolves around the run game and Linderbaum is literally front and center for the AFC contender. Baltimore averages 2.2 yards prior to contact, which is the second best mark in the league. They also rank second in yards per rush.”
Linderbaum has been growing in confidence as a run blocker and proving his worth as a physical presence during the Ravens’ first nine games. The former Iowa standout is now the best at clearing running lanes among rookie blockers, according to PFF College:
Tyler Linderbaum: 75.1 run blocking grade this season
Leads all rookie OL💪 pic.twitter.com/IfWWr2zQpt
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 10, 2022
Comparing a center to an explosive pass-catcher like Chase seems like chalk and cheese, …read more