BALTIMORE — Josh Woodrum has been a sales associate for a building supply company and a master club fitter for a custom golf manufacturer over the past couple of years.
Every so often, his former job gets brought up.
“Didn’t you play for the Ravens at one point?” a customer will ask.
Woodrum, 29, played for seven NFL teams, including 13 months in Baltimore, and yet he never got on the field for a regular-season game. He does hold this distinction — making as much of an impact as Lamar Jackson on one particular Ravens winning streak.
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As Baltimore opens the preseason Thursday night, the Ravens have won 20 straight preseason games, eclipsing the Vince Lombardi-coached Green Bay Packers, who won 19 in a row from 1959 to 1962. Although the official record is unknown, Baltimore’s streak is the longest by any team confirmed by the Elias Sports Bureau since 1995.
The reason this streak has lasted six years isn’t because Ravens coach John Harbaugh plays his starters longer than other teams. It’s because Woodrum and other bubble players for Baltimore have repeatedly proven they’re better than the other teams’ reserve players in the second half.
Woodrum played in seven games during Baltimore’s preseason run, completing 67% of his passes (37-of-55) and recording a 102.2 passer rating. In the 2017 preseason opener, his first pass for the Ravens went for a 33-yard touchdown to wide receiver Tim White against Washington. The next game, Woodrum scored on a 14-yard run. A week after that, he threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to running back Taquan Mizzell, which proved to be the game winner against the Buffalo Bills.
“It’s not just winning for the Ravens,” Woodrum said. “It’s kind of putting a stamp on your career and putting something on your résumé. You came in and played, even though people consider it to be the end of the game. That doesn’t matter. For half of the roster, it really matters because that’s the only playing time they’re going to be able to get. In that aspect, it’s super important.”
The Ravens have heard others rib them for thinking this streak is special when it’s not recognized by the NFL record books and has occurred during the part of the league calendar when the games don’t technically count.
But Baltimore takes pride in the fact that the team’s last preseason loss was Sept. 3, 2015. There’s also a sense of widespread accomplishment when counting up the number of players who’ve helped this summertime superiority.
During the Ravens’ preseason streak …
There have been 12 quarterbacks who have thrown passes for the Ravens, including Josh Johnson and Jerrod Johnson.
There have been 35 players who’ve scored touchdowns, including De’Lance Turner’s 65-yard run and Kai Nacua’s 23-yard interception return.
There have been 25 players who’ve forced turnovers, including Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard’s two forced fumbles (when he played defensive line) and Stanley Jean-Baptiste’s two interceptions. “I think it’s a testament to [current general manager] Eric [DeCosta], Harbs [John Harbaugh] and [former GM] Ozzie [Newsome] and the way they build the roster,” said kicker Justin Tucker, who is one of three current Ravens players whose tenure has spanned the entire preseason win streak. “Our 90-man roster has really, really good depth. All those guys can legitimately play. “Many of the Ravens had forgotten about the streak until reporters brought it up this week. They couldn’t guess how many games in a row Baltimore had won or how many years the run has been going on.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the roster turnover. There have been 59 players added through the draft, free agency or trade over the past two offseasons (65%).
“I don’t even want to talk about [the streak], because I don’t want anything to happen,” Ricard said, obviously leery of jinxing his team. “I think it’s a really cool streak. It just shows that we’re always a ready team when it comes to the preseason.”
The Ravens’ August dynasty has carried over into the regular season. Since the preseason streak began in 2016, Baltimore has the league’s fourth-best record in September (14-6).
A change in routine in training camp could lead to a change in fortune in the preseason. The Ravens, who placed a total of 25 players on injured reserve at some point last season, have tried to reduce the risk of injury by scaling back their full-contract drills. Baltimore has been running plays against air (no defenders) more than ever before.
“That’s kind of what we’re chasing: execution before physicality,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how it goes and we’ll see how good we are, especially early in the [regular] season.”
The second-longest current winning streak in the preseason belongs to the Bills, who have won eight in a row. To surpass where Baltimore currently stands, Buffalo would have to win every preseason game through 2025 and then win the preseason opener in 2026.
Professional gamblers have taken notice of Baltimore’s streak, even if preseason games don’t usually generate much action.
“From the oddsmakers I’ve spoken with, sportsbooks do not take much preseason action from recreational public bettors, even with a ridiculous streak like this,” ESPN sports betting analyst Doug Kezirian said. “So it’s not like the house is taking a beating. But the professional bettors that do wager on the preseason are certainly aware of Baltimore’s dominance.
“In fact, their 18-2 record against the point spread is actually more impressive, when you consider that the spread is supposed to make the game a coin-flip outcome.”
Woodrum, who lives in the Philadelphia area, will be monitoring the Ravens’ summer success, much like many of the other players who have suited up during this run.
“I kind of have a soft spot for them,” said Woodrum, who has a Ravens helmet and jersey displayed in his basement. “They were always good to me. You can’t play in the league forever, but my time there was great.”
Source : ESPN