With cornerback Chykie Brown out of action today with a hamstring injury, Asa Jackson got the call. The third-year player looked sharp in outside coverage. His quickness, smooth backpedal, and anticipation were all standout features of his play today.
The fact that Jackson held up well when he played outside of the numbers is certainly encouraging, as he has been pegged as more of a slot corner during his time in the NFL, and has struggled at times. On one play in particular, Jackson came off of his deep coverage responsibility, located the ball, and timed his break perfectly to bat the ball down.
There was a play in which Jackson’s lack of size showed up. Jacoby Jones was able to stop his route and come back for a jump ball in the end zone. On the play, Jackson didn’t let Jones get by him, but he simply didn’t have the ability to high-point the ball over Jones.
Overall, Jackson played physical, was solid in his outside leverage, and held up well despite seeing a lot of passes come his way.
A byproduct of Jackson getting the start was undrafted rookie Tramain Jacobs seeing more playing time in the defensive sub packages. He continues to make the most of his opportunities and is now someone to keep an eye on for the fifth cornerback job.
When Jimmy Smith uses his hands on a jam, receivers struggle to get off the line. There was a play in which Smith completely manhandled Jones at the line, throwing the receiver off balance while knocking the ball away.
Hopefully we will see a lot more of Smith in press coverage in which he uses a jam and doesn’t allow receivers to get a free release. All in all, the corners have been much better when they use their hands than when they use bail technique.
Brandon Williams: The nose guard is one of the many second-year players that are expected to contribute in a big way to the 2014 Ravens. Williams has played on the ball, and today, he showed up in the running game. On at least two occasions, Williams was able to penetrate into the backfield and disrupt the timing of the play. He kept his hands active and pad level low to the ground.
One of the knocks of Williams is that he doesn’t play with consistent technique. But if he can play with a low center of gravity on every snap, he will be difficult to block.
Kapron Lewis-Moore: Lewis-Moore got rave reviews during OTAs for his pursuit and lateral agility. The second-year player was very active today with his hands and was constantly working to get off blocks. On one of his better plays, he was able to take on a block and then wheel off of the blocker’s outside shoulder to tackle the ball carrier.
Lewis’ worst moment came when he was handled one-on-one by tight end Crockett Gilmore on a running play.
TODAY’S ROOKIE STANDOUTS
OFFENSE: WR Michael Campanaro
The receiver from Wake Forest continues to impress during training camp, and his acceleration was on display during individual receiver drills. When it came to running double moves, Campanaro looked fluid, and his cuts were biting coming in and out of his breaks. He simply flies out of his release off the line.
Campanaro also showed off his body control on a diving catch near the sideline during live action. He was able to find a soft spot in coverage and got behind the underneath defender.
On another play, the rookie caught a short, underneath square-in pass and dashed past defenders in the open field, ripping off some serious yards after the catch (YAC).
DEFENSE: CB Deji Olatoye
The cornerback from North Carolina A&T struggled with cramps and heat exhaustion Saturday, but battled back nicely Sunday. Along with making a diving interception to close out the 7-on-7 drills, Olatoye was also involved in another pass breakup.
He is a big corner (6-1, 194 pounds) that played with good technique and outside leverage when he covered the sidelines.
- Rookie safety Terrence Brooks got more action with the second team today and was calling out the signals for the secondary.
- Recent free agent pickup Dominque Franks passed his conditioning test and worked with the third team as an outside corner.
- The Flacco-to-Pitta connection was in full effect several times, including on a touchdown pass during a red zone drill. Coach John Harbaugh made mention of the completion being too easy.
- Pernell McPhee had another solid outing today, as he consistently applied pressure working out of a two-point stance. In particular, his get off and speed rush has been very impressive.
- Tight end Crockett Gilmore looked outstanding in run blocking situations, consistently moving his man off the ball.