Chiefs’, Ravens’ players to watch: Keep an eye on Lamar Jackson, Anthony Hitchens

One Minute Preview: Baltimore Ravens

Here are five things to know about the Baltimore Ravens before they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Here are five things to know about the Baltimore Ravens before they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

For the Chiefs to be successful on Sunday, they’ll have to focus on limiting Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on the ground. Here’s who you should be watching.

No. 8 Lamar Jackson, QB

21 years old, 6-2, 212 pounds, 1st season

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said he’s never faced a quarterback as fast as Baltimore’s rookie. The Chiefs have struggled mightily against the run this season, and Jackson’s wheels will present a big problem for this defense. Jackson, undefeated in three starts, is averaging 88 rushing yards in the last three games. He’s not the most polished passer — completing 60 percent of his passes in three starts — but he hasn’t needed to be with the Ravens’ game plan. His biggest issue is ball security. He fumbled three times in the win against Atlanta, including one that turned into a 73-yard touchdown.

No. 29 Marlon Humphrey, CB

22 years old, 6-0, 197 pounds, 2nd season

The Ravens cornerback missed two practices this week with a groin injury that appeared to happen on the last defensive play of their win against Atlanta last week. His availability for Sunday will be a huge key for Baltimore. According to Pro Football Focus, Humphrey ranks 10th in overall grade and coverage grade this year. Humphrey is a major part of the Ravens’ ability to limit big plays, and he leads all defensive backs in forced incompletion percentage (40.9) on passes of at least 10 yards in the air. Against the Falcons, Humphrey helped hold Atlanta to just 131 yards of total offense. If the second-year corner can’t go, more responsibility will fall on Tavon Young and former Chief Brandon Carr to defend KC’s lethal receiving corps.

No. 87 Travis Kelce, TE

29 years old, 6-5, 260 pounds, 6th season

Coming off a career game in Oakland, Kelce presents another matchup problem for Baltimore this week. Kelce leads all NFL tight ends with 1,082 receiving yards, and he had 12 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Raiders, setting or matching career highs in all categories. The Ravens have struggled defending tight ends in the past, giving Kelce the potential for another standout game. To defend him, the Ravens could use a combination of corner Jimmy Smith and safety Anthony Levine Sr.

No. 53 Anthony Hitchens, LB

26 years old, 6-0, 235 pounds, 5th season

This Chiefs inside linebacker is going to be key in slowing Jackson’s run threat. While Reggie Ragland and Dorian O’Daniel have split playing time based on personnel groupings, Hitchens rarely comes off the field. Against the Raiders, Hitchens was on the field for 60 of 76 defensive snaps and he led the team with 10 tackles. Hitchens was a little limited in that game, with a quad injury, but he was listed as a full participant in practice this week.

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Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.