Competition Breeds Success
During practice, fans may find it interesting to know that the Ravens are extremely divided between the offense and defense. Of course they’re all a family after the final horn sounds ending practice, but when they’re battling, you’d think it was a Ravens/Steelers throw down.
Terrell Suggs is the designated trash talker for the defense – no surprise there. However, what may surprise you is that Joe Flacco has been the vocal leader on offense, and he’s been throwing out some gems.
Unfortunately, I can’t repeat most of them.
I can probably relay a few though…
Joe Flacco has Some Swagger, Mocks James Ihedigbo
Continuing on that point, it’s absolutely apparent that Flacco has taken over this team. Flacco didn’t like some hot-dogging from safety James Ihedigbo during practice (though I have to note that Ihedigbo has looked good in the strong safety role, and had two great plays today.)
On one play, Ihedigbo sniffed out a shovel pass to the outside to running back Ray Rice. After what would have been a tackle for a loss, Ihedigbo did his patented “dig” celebration, screaming and mocking the offense in front of the training camp crowd. On another play, Ihedigbo strong-armed tight end Ed Dickson on a touch pass from Flacco, pulling in the interception – much to the chagrin of his quarterback.
Flacco would get revenge on Ihedigbo, as he threw a touchdown to a receiver Ihedigbo was covering and immediately shouted, “Let’s go baby!” while doing a poorly executed version of Ihedigbo’s “dig” celebration.
Another gem came flying out of Flacco’s mouth, which almost had us in tears. As Suggs and Ihedigbo led a cheer where each of them alternated while loudly chanting, “We fight… we fight…. we fight,” Flacco screamed from the other sideline with a perfect delivery:
“What the hell are you, a little league softball team?”
You’ve got to love the fire from a guy who was known for so long as “Joe Cool.” It’s cool seeing the new Joe.
Anyone who’s watched The Wire will get that reference. If you haven’t seen The Wire, what’s your problem?
Ravens safety Omar Brown has been the epitome of a practice player thus far in his career. During last year’s training camp, Brown was in the right place at the right time, having fumbles and passes land right in his lap on many occasions. This year, Brown has been making plenty of plays and even pulled in two acrobatic interceptions (one each off Flacco and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.)
Suggs has been full of endorsements this season, first with linebacker Josh Bynes and now with Brown. After his second interception, Suggs screamed, “He’s the greatest!” as he hammed it up for the crowd.
Kyle Juszczyk Bulldozes Albert McClellan
Plenty of people have been asking about Kyle Juszczyk and what he’s done on the field. During rushing drills, Juszczyk got a full head of steam and lit up linebacker Albert McClellan, creating a gap wide enough for a car as running back Damien Berry ran through untouched.
After practice, I asked special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg about Juszczyk’s role on special teams as he’s most likely only going to be activated for games in that role with Vonta Leach playing ahead of him. Rosburg praised Juszczyk for his special teams abilities and said that was a major thing they looked at prior to drafting him. He also said that he was impressed that a player who is technically on offense is so good at playing defense in a kick return situation.
Torrey Smith Is Having a Tremendous Camp
Lost in the shuffle of so many questions about the other receivers on the roster has been Torrey Smith, who is playing out of his mind so far. I can’t recall a time he’s even dropped a pass that was catchable. Smith makes it routine to work on his hands prior to every practice, utilizing the JUGS machine.
Not only is Smith catching everything thrown his way, he’s getting plenty of separation and has definitely hit the next level in his game.
It’ll be important to have someone step up so Smith isn’t stuck in double coverage all season long. It would be a waste to have such a progression of talent not excel on the field because he’s blanketed by the opposing secondary.
Wide Receiver Marlon Brown Stands Out
Marlon Brown has the hair (formerly) of Torrey Smith and the body of Tommy Streeter. The former Georgia Bulldog is 6-5, 216 pounds and was targeted quite a bit during practice today. While we were watching the starters, I looked over and caught a glimpse of Brown making a very nice catch in the back of the end zone on the opposite field.
Brown also continued to haul in multiple receptions throughout practice during 11-on-11 drills.
With these undrafted rookie free agents, it seems that they each trade their times to shine. First it was Rashaad Carter, then 7th round pick Aaron Mellette — now Brown. This is the great thing about training camp as we’ll have three guys who have seen their fair share of passes thrown their way in practice battle to stand out during the preseason games.
Quote of the Day: Jerry Rosburg
At the podium session following practice, I asked special teams coach Jerry Rosburg what his thoughts were on the league abandoning kickoffs in the Pro Bowl. Rosburg wasn’t fully aware of the changes until we told him. After hearing about kickoffs being eliminated, Rosburg replied:
“Why do we even play? Let’s just have a banquet,” to plenty of laughter from the crowd not ready for such a statement coming from the mild-mannered Rosburg. Hopefully Rosburg isn’t fined for criticizing the league because even they know the Pro Bowl is boring and a banquet would probably get better ratings.
For me, my vote is for the resurrection of the skills challenge.
Thursday’s practice was a great day for the defense…not so much for the offense. Lardarius Webb participated in 7-on-7 drills and intercepted a pass in the end zone from Flacco intended for wide receiver Deonte Thompson.
The next play following Webb’s interception, Flacco targeted Tandon Doss as cornerback Asa Jackson jumped the route and got into a 50/50 tussle with Doss. The referee on the sideline made a horrible call ruling the pass a completion, not an interception. It closely resembled the Seahawks/Packers replacement referee fiasco, that ultimately led to a deal being reached between the NFL and the referee union.
Plenty of players and coaches voiced their displeasure with the referee. Here are the highlights:
“Go back to Foot Locker” – Terrell Suggs
“These refs are horrible” – James Ihedigbo
“Y’all ain’t getting no dinner tonight.” – James Ihedigbo
Cornerback Moe Lee ended practice with yet another interception.
The Ravens will be back on the field tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.
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