Ravens Camp Notes 8/1/16
The Ravens took to the new sod at M&T Bank stadium in a fight-marred practice under otherwise ideal conditions and a small crowd.
The new field at M&T looked great at the outset, but a 3-hour practice for 90 men (even without tackling) left noticeable wear. I don’t know what people expect it to look like in December.
The practice was full pads, but no-tackle. For whatever reason, it was the most physical practice to date as tempers flared. Here is what I observed in terms of fights:
• Lawrence Guy threw what appeared to be a retaliatory punch to the midsection of backup tackle Stephane Nembot after the 2 emerged from a 20+ player scrum.
• Kamalei Correa and Dennis Pitta mixed it up after Correa drilled Pitta.
• Kamalei then hit Wallace hard after a catch and Joe Flacco came running in to yell at Correa.
• Rookie Guard Alex Lewis went at it with Albert McClellan in the 2-minute drill.
The punt returners took the field early with 4 men splitting the duties, Lardarius Webb, Kaelin Clay, Michael Campanaro, and Keenan Reynolds. Koch and left-footed Michael Palardy shared the duties, giving the returners a mix of spin and technique. Each punter shanked a couple and the return men did not seem organized to field every punt, but here are my observations by returner on the punts that were fielded:
• Lardarius Webb was focused on fair catches, his usual responsibility. Only once did he attempt to break off a return.
• Keenan Reynolds showed the least of the returners. He bobbled 1 punt, the only misplay, although it did not hit the ground, but worse is that he did not appear set for every catch in order to maximize the first step of his returns.
• Campanaro looked the best, catching the bulk of the punts with the right foot leverage to explode into a return.
• Clay was almost as good as Campy with solid catching technique and good leverage.
Among the gunners, Tavon Young nudged a ball out of bounds at the 2. Powers showed good goal-line awareness diving into the end zone in a failed attempt to tip the ball out inside the 5. CB Julian Wilson also downed a ball at the 5 after getting in position to defend the goal line. All of the gunners took liberties with time out of bounds, but none were flagged by the officials.
Practice consisted of 16 segments of approximately 10 minutes each. Of greatest interest were the 11-on-11 drills when my focus was on LT Ronnie Stanley. I’ll simply list out my notes by play:
• Set up well versus Albert McClellan on a long pass to Terrance West.
• Maneuvered Matt Judon around back side of run right
• Combination on Brent Urban then Arthur Brown
• Maintained space vs. Za’Darius Smith’s spin
• Patrolled left without a block until he picked up Victor Ochi (delayed)
• Held off Lawrence Guy effectively
• Needed help from John Urschel as he was beaten inside by Z. Smith. Flacco had an encouraging run right for 10 yards.
• Blocked Carl Davis on stretch right
• Blocked Guy with late (and unnecessary) help from Urschel
• Squared up vs. Guy who rushed delayed after jamming TE
• Conceded space (to Z. Smith?) but reacted well vs spin. As he left the field, Castillo had words with him.
• Held up Guy on 2nd down of 2-minute drill
• Held off Z. Smith on 3rd down
• Backed into pocket by Z. Smith. Pressure, but no hit.
• Pushed Kamalei Correa around pocket effectively. He left the field to more instruction by Castillo.
I don’t see any reason to believe Stanley should not be the starting LT from day 1. His feet are outstanding, his arm length will give some of the bigger physical rushers some problems, and he isn’t Jared Gaither big, such that smaller and powerful edge rushers (like Harrison) will be able to take advantage of his high shoulders.
Stanley is an active run blocker who seems to understand wide zone concepts and based on a single rep above (dangerous as hell), I see a player who will make a back-side contribution on run plays, something I like to see from a tackle on either side. I am sure Castillo sees technique issues he’d like to correct, but he’s got to be excited to have a talented, intelligent kid like Ronnie on his line.
Aside from his first performance against live fire next Thursday, we’ll see if he gets an extended audition. If he does not, I would take it as a tremendous show of confidence.
The score between the offense and defense was again posted with the defenders enjoying a healthy lead for most of the night. Much of their success was built against backup QBs in the blitz drill, which is keyed by successful pickups from eligible receivers and quick decisions/accurate passes from the QBs. To summarize briefly what we hope never to observe during the regular season:
• Ryan Mallett was horribly inaccurate under pressure and does not move well in the pocket
• The Johnsons (Josh and Jerrod) did not have many snaps, but did not make decisions quickly enough to warrant roster consideration
• I did not notice a single completion by anyone other than Flacco
Flacco’s results in the drill were encouraging, however. He moved well in the pocket to find lanes to throw and got rid of the ball on time and accurately. The majority of his passes were complete. The only long pass opportunity of the drill was dropped by Aiken. It was during this drill that Joe confronted Correa after he delivered a hit on Wallace.
Despite missing 2 days to failed conditioning tests, Powers remains the first-team nickel. His most likely competition, Tavon Young, looked good as the 2nd team SCB.
As a follow-up to his 69-yard FG yesterday, Tucker blasted a 63-yard kick through the uprights on Monday night punctuated by a fist bump run to his center and holder. Also of interest on the FG drill were Waller and Boyle playing on the wings, since both players will begin the year on suspension.
The kickoff drill began inauspiciously when the Juggs gun failed to start (they made several attempts to start it which is done with something that looks like a lawn-mower cord). Tucker and Will Lutz each made some kicks and with the new 25-yard-line start for touchbacks. It’s clear the emphasis will be on kicking into the corner and short of the goal line. I know a Juggs gun can simulate that accurately, but I don’t know why the kickers would not need the practice.
Mallett and Boyle share the dud of the day for me. Mallett for his inability to generate any offense against the blitz and Boyle for dropping a long pass that hit him between the numbers in the 2-minute drill. Keenan Reynolds is not getting many offensive reps at this point and it’s getting difficult to see how he’ll justify a roster spot.