Orlando Brown Jr. played in plenty of big games at Oklahoma. Brown and the Sooners crushed TCU in the Big 12 title game in 2016, beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl a month later and faced Georgia in a national semifinal after the 2017 season.
Still, Brown said that his first experience in the NFL playoffs as a rookie last year left him feeling a bit “overwhelmed.”
The Ravens, the No. 4 seed as the AFC North champion, were soundly beaten at home in their playoff opener last year by the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Chargers, 23-17, as the Chargers rolled to a 23-3 fourth-quarter lead before the Ravens staged a late rally.
One year later, Brown, the Ravens’ starting right tackle all season, said there’s an entirely different mentality as he and the rest of the Ravens’ class of second-year players — which includes Most Valuable Player front-runner Lamar Jackson and tight ends Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst, among others — prepares for their second shot at a postseason run.
The Ravens (14-2), winners of 12 straight, are the No. 1 seed in the AFC and host the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans (10-7) in a divisional round playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 8:15 p.m.
The playoff intensity last year “was a little bit of a shocker” Brown said before practice Jan. 7 in a locker room that was far more crowded than usual with national media descending on the Ravens’ facility this week.
“At that point in time last year I was just a little bit overwhelmed by the playoff atmosphere,” Brown added.
“It was just a lot more intense. This year, I have a better understanding as far as where I am as a player and what it’s going to take.”
Andrews, Brown’s former teammate at Oklahoma, noted that last year, “there were so many young guys on our team [and] it’s hard to be ready for that. It’s such a long year, and guys’ bodies start getting kind of worn down. There’s no sense of that this year. … We know what’s at stake, and I think there’s a different feel than there was last year for us, for sure.”
Brown wasn’t the only one who looked overwhelmed in that playoff loss to the Chargers. Early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens had a total of minus-2 net passing yards and Jackson had been sacked five times. Jackson, who became the youngest quarterback to start an NFL playoff game at one day shy of 22 years old, fumbled on each of the Ravens first two possessions, though the Ravens recovered both. (One play after one of those fumbles, however, a fumble by Kenneth Dixon ended one drive.) Through three quarters, the Ravens had three first downs.
Head coach John Harbaugh has often said that one of Jackson’s best attributes is that he rarely makes the same mistake twice, constantly learning from the past. Asked what he could take away from that playoff loss last season, Jackson said, “Can’t start too late. You gotta attack fast.”
Jackson has had what amounts to a three-week layoff, as he sat out the Week 17 regular-season finale since the Ravens had wrapped up the No. 1 seed by that point, and then the Ravens had a first-round bye last weekend.
Asked about benefits of the long layoff, Jackson said that it was “very important. It lets our bodies recover from all those hits and grinding we were doing throughout this whole season. … We’re good. I’m just ready to play.”
INGRAM MISSES PRACTICE: Starting running back Mark Ingram did not practice Jan. 7 as he continues to deal with a calf injury sustained during the Ravens win at Cleveland Dec. 22. Harbaugh had said last week that he hoped Ingram would be able to practice fully this week, but at his news conference Jan. 7 he said he would have no updates on injuries other than the team’s official mandated report listing practice participation.
Other than Ingram, others not practicing included offensive lineman Parker Ehinger (shoulder) and defensive backs Jimmy Smith and Earl Thomas, who were getting a veteran’s day off. Tight end Mark Andrews (ankle) was listed as limited.
RAVENS SIGN PRACTICE SQUAD RUNNING BACK: The Ravens have signed running back Paul Perkins to the practice squad, and in a corresponding move, receiver Antoine Wesley was placed on the practice squad/injured list.
Perkins was a fifth-round pick of the New York Giants in 2016 and played two seasons for the Giants. He was with the Detroit Lions earlier this season, appearing in four games. He was also briefly with the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. With Ingram hobbling, Perkins gives the Ravens an extra running back who can also simulate Tennessee running back Derrick Henry during practice this week.
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