After a disappointing performance by the starters in Thursday’s second preseason game, the Ravens players had to know they’d be in store for a few unpleasant practices in the coming days. They got back at it today in Owings Mills, trying to fix some of the myriad of issues that popped up against Atlanta.
Here’s what some members of the squad had to say on a variety of topics:
Aaron Mellette Benefits from John Harbaugh’s “Hard Coaching”
Unfortunately for the Ravens, many of the receivers they had relied upon to stand out in the wake of Anquan Boldin’s departure have failed to do so. However, Aaron Mellette has entered training camp without many expectations placed on him, but has been turning heads with his performances during the first two preseason games.
The small-school product from Elon University has been making some big plays, especially considering his tough week at practice.
Last weekend, Mellette felt Harbaugh’s wrath as he was pulled from the field with Harbaugh yelling to offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell on the sidelines, “Get number thirteen off the field, he’s lazy and lackadaisical.”
Mellette may be lazy and lackadaisical but he has very good hands and has been an impact player thus far; both of those qualities have been lacking from two receivers, Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss, the guys expected to take the reigns behind Torrey Smith on the depth chart.
For the second straight game, Mellette caught a touchdown pass, this time a 40-yarder from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He also drew a 28-yard pass interference penalty. He hasn’t created much separation, but he’s gained the trust of Taylor knowing that if the ball is placed correctly, he’ll catch it. Now that kind of sounds like Boldin, doesn’t it?
“He’s had a great week of practice and I’d like to take credit for that, but it probably wouldn’t be fair.” Harbaugh said in mid-laugh, speaking of Mellette. “I think he’s done a great job battling through some adversity and responding well to some hard coaching, and that’s the mark of a guy that I think has a lot of character, a lot of confidence.”
The best thing going for Mellette is that he’s shown he can be an impact player when called upon. With the question marks behind Smith, Mellette has shown everything the Ravens wished they were getting from Jones and Doss. Following a short stay in Harbaugh’s dog house, Mellette should see increased playing time during the third preseason game, one in which the starters usually play at least through halftime.
“He’s done really well,” Harbaugh said. “I’m proud of him, very proud of him.”
But will Harbaugh’s words of encouragement be enough to keep Mellette from the practice squad? Could he find finding himself on the Ravens’ 53-man roster if he keeps producing? Well, not so fast. The next step for Mellette is making it onto the field the same time as quarterback Joe Flacco. Only then will you see how high the Ravens value Mellette’s performance thus far during camp.
Juan Castillo is the Man
Juan Castillo, the Ravens “Running Game Coordinator” not only has a unique title, he’s a unique individual. For all intents and purposes, Castillo is the Ravens offensive line coach. Castillo is only labeled the “Running Game Coordinator” because current offensive line coach Andy Moeller is still collecting a paycheck from the franchise, even though Castillo has essentially made him a spectator at this point.
On the practice field, there is a new energy when Castillo is around. While many coaches and coordinators blend in wearing the same clothes as each other, Castillo clearly stands out, running up and down the field and coaching up his players after each and every play. Warmups are different, drills are different and it’s all due to Castillo and his familiarity with the offensive line.
“I would say that Juan is maybe the finest teacher of football in the National Football League,” Harbaugh praised earlier this week. “He teaches the game as well as anybody you’re ever going to see, and those guys – they like to work for him. They want to stay out to get extra reps because they understand that the things that he’s teaching them are going to help them be a better player [and] maybe make it somewhere, if not here.”
After a nightmarish beginning of the 2012 season, everything turned out for the best for Castillo. He went from being fired in Philadelphia as a sacrificial lamb during the tail end of Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach of the Eagles to coaching the defending Super Bowl champs.
Castillo spent sixteen season coaching offense for the Eagles, thirteen of which were as their offensive line coach. It’s a good thing that Harbaugh can just hire coaches and plug him in with a job title wherever he likes. If not, Moeller would have about as much job security with the Ravens as third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie.
Chris Canty Impressed with Ravens Fans at M&T Bank Stadium
After spending his entire career in the NFC East (four years each with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants) defensive end Chris Canty is acclimating himself to the AFC North as a member of the Ravens. In a room, Canty will stand out with his 6-7, 317 pound frame of lean muscle. For as much as Canty stands out, he thinks M&T Bank Stadium does the same in regards to the fan-generated home field advantage.
After playing in his first game at home as a member of the Ravens, Canty praised the fans.
“I was out there last year with the New York Giants and I didn’t fare so well,” he said. “I realized then that this is a tremendous fan base. People in this town really care about their team, and they show it in the stadium.”
The Ravens have won over Baltimore football fans and remain one of the NFL’s top teams in terms of attendance. For their preseason home opener, a paid attendance of 70,527 packed in the stadium for a glimpse of the team assembled to make a repeat run as World Champions.
“To have that energy supporting us when we’re out there on the field is awesome,” Canty concluded.
Canty’s efforts in training camp and during the preseason have assured him to be on the field plenty as fans drown out opposing offenses’ signals. Given the way he’s looked so far in game situations, Canty will provide fans with plenty to cheer about this upcoming season.
The Ravens will hold their final semi-public practice tomorrow at Stevenson University. Access to the event is only granted through their lottery system but there should be roughly 5,000 fans in attendance. Practice is a 5:00 p.m.
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