The Ravens held their first Organized Team Activities (OTAs) of the offseason that were open to the media on Thursday. As expected, there were the typical ups and downs of the early training sessions.
Against a first-team offensive line that didn’t feature one starter (Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, Eugene Monroe, and Jeremy Zuttah weren’t present, Rick Wagner is recovering from a Lisfranc foot sprain), the Ravens defensive front, which was without Chris Canty, clearly won the battle in the trenches.
Second- and third- year defensive lineman, Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams consistently wreaked havoc in the offensive backfield. They consistently stopped running back Justin Forsett before he could even even get his feet going during several 11-on-11 drills.
The linebacker corps that suited up looked much different than normal. C.J. Mosley was limited due to his offseason wrist surgery. Veteran Daryl Smith led a group that was without Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Arthur Brown substituted for C.J. Mosley and received most of the snaps on the inside next to Smith.
In the secondary, newly re-signed cornerback Jimmy Smith wore a red non-contact towel but participated fully in both positional drills and 11-on-11 drills. Smith, who suffered a Lisfranc foot injury last season, is ahead of schedule in his rehab, head coach John Harbaugh stated after practice.
Opposite Smith, Asa Jackson ran with the first team defense. With Lardarius Webb absent, newly signed veteran Kyle Arrington saw numerous reps as well. Behind the corners, safeties Will Hill and Matt Elam split reps at strong safety while Kendrick Lewis manned the free safety spot.
On offense, the Ravens looked different than it would normally, which will change once offseason activities become mandatory.
Quarterback Joe Flacco had to work without his starting line, taking snaps from third year center/guard Ryan Jensen.
Perhaps the deepest unit on offense, the Ravens running backs led by Justin Forsett had a tough day in team drills, but they performed well during positional drills. Rookie Buck Allen was not on hand for practice due a scheduling conflict with the NFL rookie symposium. John Harbaugh still can’t figure why the NFL would schedule the symposium during OTAs.
“We have three rookies today at the NFL Players Association event, which was scheduled during OTAs on practice days for some odd reason,” stated Harbaugh after practice. “[Breshad] Perriman, Maxx Williams and [Javorius] ‘Buck’ Allen [are attending].”
The tight end position was piecemealed together during 11 on 11 team drills as veteran tight end Dennis Pitta (limited) and rookie Maxx Williams (rookie symposium) were not available. Crockett Gillmore received most of the snaps with the first team offense while Allen Reisner and Konrad Reuland worked with the second and third team offenses respectively.
The wide receiver battle for a roster could quickly become the must-see battle of the summer. The team announced that 2014 7th round draft pick Michael Campanaro will be out for the rest of OTAs with a thigh injury. The loss of Camp should open up ample opportunities for the rest of the receivers.
Perhaps the biggest threat to Campanaro is the 5’8, 185 pound undrafted rookie from Sacramento State, DeAndre Carter. The speedy slot receiver practiced mostly on the second and third team offense and looked smooth in his route running. Steve Smith Sr. was present and was his usual vocal self. After catching a high pass from Joe Flacco, the veteran wideout laughed loudly while looking toward the defensive sideline and doing his signature ball spin.
While it’s much too early to take much stock in anything that happened on the practice field today, the three-day OTAs do provide a firsthand look at the current roster which includes several offseason additions. The true test will come during training camp when they strap on the pads.
Play of the Day
Rookie linebacker Za’Darius Smith turned quite a few heads today including the head of back up quarterback Matt Schaub. The Kentucky standout picked off Schaub and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown.
Quote of the Day
“Not very good. I haven’t played too much, so it’s never really that good.” Quarterback Joe Flacco on whether or not his golf game is improving.
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