After battling the heat throughout camp, Coach Harbaugh decided to bring players and the fans inside for today’s practice at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Having 90-players on the field, the focus of practice went to more full team drills, which consisted of practicing in two-minute and other situational drills. It was harder to take in depth notes due to the media having a limited view from being stationed at one corner of the field all day but there are some interesting notes to pass along.
Jimmy Smith left practice today with an apparent back injury. From defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ perspective, the injury didn’t appear to be too serious. Smith left the field with a trainer and did not return.
Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk, Bobbie Williams and Justin Tucker were among notable players given the day off – other players such as Courtney Upshaw, Tandon Doss, Jah Reid, Haloti Ngata and Bernard Pierce sat out with injuries.
Tucker’s absence from practice today shouldn’t be alarming for those interested in his solid performance so far in the Ravens kicking competition; Tucker has kicked for the past six days and was given the day off by the coaching staff.
As he has done throughout most of training camp, Joe Flacco continues to look sharp and play at a high level. Even though it is just practice, Flacco is extremely competitive and having fun with his offensive teammates.
During an 11 on 11 drills, the Ravens first-team offense marched down the field fifty yards in four plays – the drive ended with a touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. After the end of the play, Flacco faced the remaining members of the offense on the sideline and even did his patented sideswiping uppercut to celebrate.
The biggest improvement so far in the Ravens offense has been the steady progression of last year’s former Maryland Terrapin rookies, Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams. Smith has blossomed into a great downfield threat and looks more like a #1 wide receiver each practice.
Williams’ emergence has been one of the biggest stories at camp as he continues to catch the eye of observers with an amazing play on a routine basis. Rookie undrafted free agent, Deonte’ Thompson also made a great play today as he caught the ball at the absolute last second while being blanketed by cornerback Danny Gorrer.
Jacoby Jones also had plenty of nice catches today and was targeted quite often in full-team drills. Jones did however make another costly mistake as he tipped a ball which ended up in cornerback Corey Graham’s hand. Graham return could easily have been taken in for a score in a live game situation.
Each practice, Damien Berry continues to excel and he will be exciting to watch as the Ravens face other opponents in the preseason. Most of the running backs cannot be effectively judged until they’re in real game situations but Berry should shine.
Anthony Allen has probably been the biggest disappointment on the field so far as he has not been able to make many key plays. Multiple times he runs into the defensive line and seems to be struggling to get into the secondary.
Once again, rookie third-round selection, Bernard Pierce, was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Pierce hasn’t been on the practice field much, which can be a concern as it comes to who will take the snaps when Ray Rice is off the field. Pierce also had an injury during minicamp and unfortunately for the rookie from Temple, he is quickly gaining the “injury prone” label.
As mentioned earlier, Bobbie Williams sat out of practice today and was replaced on the first team by Justin Boren.
Once again, Kelechi Osemele ran with the first team and he’s been solid at right tackle. Osemele stood out today during 1 on 1 drills as he completely stood up Sergio Kindle on multiple occasions as Kindle tried to get to the quarterback. Osemele was aggressive, pushing Kindle and smacking his hands down as Kindle raised them.
Osemele may not be the starting right tackle by week one but he’s thrown his name into the hat for serious consideration. His performance during preseason games will determine where he spends the majority of his time on the offensive line and may even determine how quick the Ravens will be to rush back Bryant McKinnie, who is sidelined with a back injury. KO’s development could also push Jah Reid further down the depth chart. Reid has been a camp disappointment with his inability to get on the field.
Billy Cundiff was the only active kicker on the field today and connected on six of his seven attempts. Since he was at the other end of the field, the exact distances of his kicks were unknown but Cundiff’s sole miss came from what looked to be about 40-yards out.
Cundiff’s misses from near 40-yards are cause for concern. For the moment Tucker seems to have the leg up in the competition.
Any defensive highlights were mentioned during the notes on the offense above. With the practice being indoors and the players not being padded, it was very hard to pick out stellar plays by defensive players.
The Ravens practice today at the Under Armour Performance Center at 3:00 and then will host their first public practice of the season at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, August 4 at 5:00PM.
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