Wednesday’s OTA’s open to the media had more of that training camp vibe.
The warm sunny day was certainly a contributor but more importantly for the team, the practice was executed with precision and at a purposeful pace.
“Beautiful day for football – guys really appreciate the heat a little bit”, John Harbaugh shared after practice.
“We’ve had a couple hot days this week – that’s helped us to ‘climatize’ us a little bit for training camp and for the early part of the season. So, it’s been positive. I’m happy with the guys. The work has been very good and I think we get better every single day.”
If his words don’t fully capture Harbaugh’s enthusiasm, the smile, body language and gleam in his eye did. It was a productive day for the team.
Keeping in mind that contact is limited and the players are wearing only jerseys, shorts and helmets, here are few observations beginning with the defense…
Timmy Jernigan is as advertised. He seems disruptive and combats well with his hands. He appears to have a quick first step and if you add all of that up on Sundays it could equate to second and long for opponents…Pernell McPhee looks to be in the best shape of his Ravens career. He’s playing this season for his next contract and the early signs suggest he’s up to the task…DeAngelo Tyson, a 2012 7th round pick surprised many with his play during the second half of 2013. He seems to have picked up where he left off and that means even more quality depth for defensive line coach Clarence Brooks’ rotation.
Courtney Upshaw appears to be struggling with weight issues again. It might be time for the team to suggest a nutritionist if they haven’t already. There’s work ahead for No. 91…Arthur Brown is playing fast which suggests a newly found comfort zone within Dean Pees’ defense. He’ll be a playmaker in 2014…Kapron Lewis-Moore looks to be more than ready to assume duties left behind by Arthur Jones. He may not be as productive as Jones immediately but the future looks bright for the red-shirted former Golden Domer…UDFA Xavius Boyd is a quick linebacker and was noticeable when competing against the 3’s. He’s a little lean but could become a solid special teams player. He may be a dark horse to keep an eye on.
Many fans are excited about the Ravens acquisition of UDFA DB Avery Patterson. Wednesday was not a good day for the rookie out of Oregon. When assigned to LaQuan Williams on a crosser he held on to slow Williams’ progress but wasn’t flagged. Later on he was turned around like a top when covering Aaron Mellette on a deep out along the left sideline…Darian Stewart looked pretty solid and may have a say in whether Terrence Brooks is the starter at FS. He moved well in open space…a battle to watch will be for the starting nickel back between Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown. Brown is the more aggressive of the two but Jackson breaks on the ball better and appears shiftier than Brown, a prerequisite for covering slot receivers. Neither stood out on Wednesday although Brown was burned badly by Steve Smith on a slant that the elder statesman of the receiving corps took to the house…Jimmy Smith is playing with confidence and intercepted a Joe Flacco pass for a pick 6.
The Ravens play loud music during the 11 on 11 portions of practice to simulate crowd noise and favorites are “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Highway to Hell” which relatively speaking are played as frequently as “Let it Go” on terrestrial radio. Yesterday we heard “Ain’t No Mountain” and “Boogie Oogie Oogie”.