As the Ravens prepare for their biggest dress rehearsal of the season, most of the second and lower units received increased repetitions during practice. With starters expected to play into the second half Thursday against Jacksonville, Coach Harbaugh seems to be using practice to get good looks at the deeper end of the depth chart.
The Ravens continue to be in good health – of the 90 players on the roster, only eight were missing at today’s practice.
While Sean Considine and Sergio Kindle again donned red non-contact jerseys for the second straight practice, the Ravens were without David Reed (ACL), Ed Dickson (shoulder), Dennis Pitta (hand), Jah Reid (calf), Josh Bynes (cracked vertebrae), Terrell Suggs (Achilles), Pernell McPhee (personal) and Ryan McBean (ankle).
Good news for the Ravens is that Dickson’s shoulder injury seems to be healing well. After walking around practice last weekend without his shoulder in a sling, Dickson was playing catch with 4th string quarterback Chester Stewart.
Dickson didn’t appear to have issues catching the ball but did throw it back with his left hand. He may not be able to take a hit right now, but it doesn’t appear that he’ll miss any regular season games.
The best play of the day came from what would be considered a “home run” for fullback Vonta Leach.
Leach came out of the backfield and laid a loud hit on linebacker Stevie Baggs. After running by Baggs, Leach caught a pass two yards out and trotted in for the touchdown during full team drills.
Hitting someone makes Leach happy enough, but the fact that he also caught a pass and scored a touchdown must have had #44 smiling as he ran back to the huddle.
LaQuan Williams reached his quota of one eye-opening catch per day when he looked like he climbed an invisible ladder to catch a pass over Omar Brown. It was hard to clearly make out how high he went up to haul in the pass but a conservative estimate would be 9-10 feet.
Jacoby Jones dropped a pass from Tyrod Taylor in the back of the end zone. He made the attempt over his shoulder with his arms extended; however, when the ball hit his hands, it rolled off his fingertips for an incomplete pass.
It’s just practice, but if Jones continues to miss key passes like he did against the Lions and today in practice once the season starts, he may find his hold on the third receiver spot becoming as slippery as the football seems to be.
The Ravens continue to shift the offensive line around and today once again saw Bryant McKinnie running with the first team.
Even though it hasn’t been confirmed, I would expect McKinnie to start on Thursday due to the fact the Ravens need to evaluate him against other teams’ starting defenses.
Albert McClellan Most of the buzz was centered on Courtney Upshaw starting with the first team defense as the Ravens look to fill the void left by Suggs. Upshaw has struggled with a shoulder injury and hasn’t necessarily performed to the level expected due to his limited reps.
Albert McClellan has been a standout in what has turned into a struggling Ravens pass rush unit. McClellan has found his way into the backfield multiple times during drills and even recorded a “sack” of Taylor.
The Ravens have invested a lot into Upshaw and he should still be valued as a key defensive contributor, but during his downtime, McClellan has taken advantage of his opportunities and seems to have a legitimate shot of lining up opposite Paul Kruger at outside linebacker.
For the second straight day, Billy Cundiff outkicked Justin Tucker. The good news for Tucker was that his only miss was wide right from 61 yards out.
Cundiff and Tucker had both made their first five attempts (29, 34, 41, 52 and 58 yards) when Tucker encouraged Harbaugh to let them attempt from beyond 60 yards.
Cundiff’s kick barely cleared the crossbar while Tucker’s kick had enough leg strength but he pushed it just right.
The Ravens practice tomorrow at 11:30, their last practice open to the media before Thursday’s final home preseason game against the Jaguars.
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