Among Ravens’ unsung heroes, TE Josh Oliver was perhaps the least sung

Out of kindness, we might say he was not guaranteed a job when the Ravens arrived for training camp in late July. In truth, Josh Oliver was not even part of conversations forecasting the last few players to make the team’s 53-man roster.

“No one was talking about him; you guys hadn’t talked about him much, right?” coach John Harbaugh said last week to a gaggle of media members. Heads shook in reply.

At tight end, the Ravens had an All-Pro starter in Mark Andrews, a recuperating team pillar in Nick Boyle, two fourth-round picks in Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely and a hybrid fullback in Patrick Ricard. What work could possibly remain for Oliver, a guy who’d caught a dozen NFL passes total since he was a third-round pick in 2019?

Oliver did not see it this way.

“Josh just flat out won a job; he won a roster spot in training camp,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “It was definitely not a sure thing, and he just won it. For him to not be on the team for us would have been ridiculous with how he was improving. … He just made us put him on the team, and he continues to make us play him.”

Oliver, 25, has transformed himself into one of the key blockers for Roman’s vaunted running attack. He will return to the site of his early NFL frustrations when the Ravens face the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team that drafted and then traded him, on Sunday.

“It was tough,” he said of those injury-marred two years. “It helped get me to where I am at this point, but there were definitely some obstacles I had to overcome. … I feel like I overcame it and grew from it. You learn not to take anything for granted.”

Any successful NFL team will feature a few heroes no one saw coming.

Safety Geno Stone began the summer on the Ravens’ roster bubble. If the 2020 seventh-round pick was going to make the final 53, it would be because of his special teams acumen. No one envisioned him taking snaps away from incumbent starter Chuck Clark, prize free-agent addition Marcus Williams or first-round pick Kyle Hamilton. But Williams dislocated his wrist in Week 5, and Stone, with his rock-solid knowledge of the defensive playbook, stepped in as a starter on the back end. He has the third-highest coverage grade of any safety in the NFL through 11 weeks, according to Pro Football Focus.

When the Ravens signed wide receiver Demarcus Robinson off the Las Vegas’ Raiders’ discarded pile in August, most observers thought he would make the team, but only as veteran insurance behind No. 1 wide receiver Rashod Bateman and 2020 third-round pick Devin Duvernay. Now that Bateman is out for the season with a foot injury, however, Robinson has become quarterback Lamar Jackson’s favorite outside target. He caught all nine passes thrown his way for 128 yards in the Ravens’ Week 11 victory over the Carolina Panthers and was the most productive wide receiver …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


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