Eager to get back on the football field after a disappointing playoff loss, Orlando Brown and the rest of the Baltimore Ravens are in a holding pattern along with the rest of the NFL.
The former Peachtree Ridge lineman is staying sharp with home workouts as he awaits the end of the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
“At this point last year, obviously, we had a little group here working out in Norman (Oklahoma), and we’re not able to have that just because of the social distancing stuff,” Brown said in a conference call. “But I’ve still been able to get really good work in, fortunately. My trainer’s right down the road. I’ve got some stuff here at my place in a pretty big neighborhood, so I’ve been able to get it in, and a nice backyard. But it’s been different just not being able to even go see some of my teammates this offseason and get to be around the guys a little bit more than I would be in season. It’s unfortunate, but I’ve just been staying home trying to stay safe.”
Baltimore finished the 2019 NFL season with frustration — a playoff-opening loss to the Titans — but it was a large success otherwise, allowing the Ravens to take lots of momentum into 2020. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the league’s breakout star and NFL MVP, leading the top scoring offense in the NFL (33.2 points per game). Baltimore finished the regular season with a 14-2 record.
Brown, who turns 24 on May 2, was a big part of the successes. The 6-foot-8, 355-pounder started every game at offensive tackle last season, earning Pro Bowl honors and backing up a solid rookie season in 2018 when he made 10 starts.
The 2019 team’s bond has carried into 2020, Brown said.
“I think it really just starts with Lamar and everything that he brings every day, whether that be practice or a game, in meetings,” Brown said. “The chemistry starts there, and I think it just trickles down from there to us. And then from us, the trust that the coaches have put in us and our abilities, what we can do within our scheme. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
There are some areas of concern for the 2020 Ravens, and one involves the line, specifically the offensive guard who lines up next Brown. Marshal Yanda, a 13-year veteran and eight-time Pro Bowl selection, retired after last season.
“It’s going to be so different,” Brown said. “Just personally, for me, he’s been next to me almost every snap for the last two years, and he’s helped me grow as a player. He’s helped me grow as a person, and most importantly I’m going to miss being able to ask him questions. It’s very rare to get someone who’s been in the league for 13 years and been able to play at a high level for so long. I didn’t take it for granted at all. Every snap, every opportunity I had to line up with him in a walkthrough, in a practice, in a game, I tried to give it my all for him. He’s somebody that I’m definitely going to miss. I understand that we’ll probably be breaking someone new in at the right guard position, and we’re going to do what has to be done. But at the end of the day, Marshal is a legend. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I’m going to miss him a lot.”
Yanda played a pivotal role in the development of Brown, a 2017 All-American at Oklahoma with first-round talent who slid to the Ravens in the third round of the 2018 draft after a disastrous NFL Combine performance.
“Just that energy and that passion that he played with,” Brown said of what he learned from Yanda. “I’m already someone who’s an emotional player, and I play hard. I try to play hard. I try to practice hard. Just what Marshal did every day; whether that be practice, walk-through, playing lower, playing faster, playing more physical, and trying to finish as many blocks as he could. That’s something that I think everyone should be trying to implement into their game, and Marshal was the epitome of that.”
Brown hopes for a return to the Pro Bowl this season, when the NFL gets to all clear to compete.
“I don’t think that the NFL and the Ravens organization are going to put us in a bad position,” Brown said. “If things aren’t ready, they’re not ready. I don’t think it’s going to be forced. I don’t think you can force it with this disease being so deadly and so many people losing their lives from all ages and races. It’s something that … I don’t think it’s going to be taken lightly. It’s a contact sport, so I just hope and pray that things work out for the better and that we can get ahold of it.”