Training Camp Notes: Livin’ on the Edge
Means was a name mentioned by both head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome to watch out for this season. Means was described by Harbaugh during mini-camp as being “young, big, gangly, crazy, and almost out-of-control sometimes.”
His description was spot on. Physically, Means is a chiseled 6-foot-3, 260 pounds with long, active arms. Size wise, he reminds me of Cameron Wake. Both players have powerful physiques, although Wake plays with a lower center of gravity.
Means lined up between both OLB spots in place of Elvis Dumervil. He was mostly in the lineup to rush the passer out of a two-point stance, although he also logged some snaps in run defense situations.
What jumped out about the former Buccaneer is his body movement and moves. As Harbaugh described, you can’t predict how Means is going to come at a lineman.
For instance, during the first set of 11-on-11 drills, Means used a speed rush, a swim move, and a spin move in three consecutive plays. The swim move came as he twisted inside off of a stunt.
Eventually, Means was forced to work around a double team between the TE and RB. He kept hustling past the blockade and chased Joe Flacco out of the pocket. Means forced the QBs to step up in the pocket a few times.
The third-year player was equally impressive against the run. During the second set of 11-on-11s, he maintained perfect gap integrity to plug the hole and force the back to bounce elsewhere. When he got the chance to tackle a running back late in the practice, he squared up and made a perfect form tackle.
Not only does Means have an array of pass rush moves and is willing to take on blockers (at one point, he crashed into two linemen to free up other defenders and was shaken up on the play), but he also has an explosive first step.
Hopefully Means can build off of a very strong day.
Smith is another player who will get the chance to log snaps behind Dumervil and Suggs, and possibly in the nickel sub packages. Like Means, Smith has a longer, leaner frame compared to the guy who used to wear number 90, Pernell McPhee.
The rookie logged most of his snaps in run defense situations. He would extend his right or left arm to jolt the opposing linemen off balance and maintain outside leverage. This was a go-to move for Smith.
In playing the run, Smith was hit or miss. There were a couple of times when he did a nice job working down the line to pursue the ball. But he also lost his edge contain responsibility in two instances. On one of those places, tailback Terrence Magee bounced the ball to the gap Smith vacated and scampered for a TD.
Smith also had a hard time keeping up with the up-tempo pace. He was late getting out of his stance on three consecutive plays…
Darren Waller is such a massive presence (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) that at one point, he dwarfed cornerback Chris Greenwood. Greenwood, by the way, is 6-foot-1.
The rookie receiver looked good snagging passes over the middle. He made a diving catch to snare a ball that went wide during 11-on-11 drills. He also made a contested catch on a slant route in which he took on contact without a problem.
Waller is a pretty good route runner for someone his size. He moves fast and was especially comfortable on the slant routes where he didn’t have to break stride catching the ball. But he looked choppier on the comeback routes when he had to stop and start to get in and out of his breaks.
- I really like what I have seen from Kyle Arrington as an outside corner. He has played physical and hasn’t given up much space in coverage. During a two-minute drill, Arrington was challenged by Flacco on a jump ball to Michael Campanaro which he nearly picked off. On another play earlier in practice, he maintained inside leverage to cut Kamar Aiken off, then high-pointed the ball to disrupt the play.
- During the same two-minute drill, Lardarius Webb was in the slot while Arrington stayed outside. Webb looked good turning, running, and locating the ball to pick off Flacco on an overthrown pass. Webb also had a pass breakup against DeAndre Carter that should have been an INT. It was a nice bounce back day for the veteran.
- Dean Pees was aggressive with his blitz package today. He used his defensive backs as blitzers and was comfortable leaving his corners in one-on-one coverage.