The team returned to practice without pads on Friday morning for a shortened practice which included the day off for several veterans as well as an early dismissal for those who played.
Coach Joe D’Alessandris is the new Ravens offensive line coach. He worked with linemen on combination blocking for approximately 10 minutes, which was interesting to watch. To summarize:
* Coach lined up 2 consecutive linemen to block a player at the line of scrimmage, then had 1 release to block a 2nd-level target.
* Between reps, players take turns with a blocking shield to simulate a defensive lineman or linebacker.
* While I’m sure the coach wants to see a good finish on the level-2 block, the drill’s focus is all on the proper technique for 2 men to block 1 at the point of attack.
* Coach Joe seems to prefer multiple consecutive reps with the same blockers for teaching rather than allowing players to cycle through multiple attempts. Often times he’d say “Good, let’s do that again” to encourage a pair of linemen.
* Some of the other things said give you an idea of the technical work that goes into what we watch every Sunday. “Don’t lead him, Pugs (G Jarrod Pughsley), you’re stepping away from him.”
* He pushed one lineman out of his drill spot to demonstrate “it’s inside foot [stomp], outside foot [stomp]”, and followed up by showing “the close foot [to the defensive lineman] steps up the whole time.”
* It seemed to me that Matt Skura had more reps than other linemen. That may be a function of the fact he has been taking reps at both center and guard.
Among the linemen was Marshal Yanda, who will likely step to the podium in Canton someday in no small part due to his ability to convert combination blocks. Marshal has probably heard 6 or 7 OL coaches explain combination blocking since high school, but he is hearing coach Joe’s demonstrative and technical explanation for the first time this summer. It kept his attention.
The Ravens offensive line went through another permutation as the first team consisted of Stanley, Eleumunor, Jensen, Skura, and Hurst from left to right. I am told Alex Lewis was given the day off while Stanley and Jensen each returned after precautionary injury days.
Whether you believe Austin Howard is now the starter at RT or there may still be competition, the acquisition of Howard solidifies the left side of the Ravens OL. Alex Lewis will be the Ravens LG for 2017.
WR Tim White had another highlight-reel morning. He dusted CB Reggie Porter with a stop-and-go move down the right sideline in 7-on-7 drills. Shortly after, in an 11-on-11 segment, he again had Porter beaten, but the ball was overthrown. He broke off a route to the inside to leave Brandon Carr for a 20-yard completion. On Friday he also had 5 reps as the kickoff returner (see more below). Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg mentioned that White is “trying to do more than one thing” to increase his chances to make the team.
The Ravens finished practice by dismissing the veterans after 2 hours. They then conducted a 2-minute drill for the twos (who normally get few if any reps in such situations). Practice completed with kickoff returns. I try to grade each rep for 2 factors (each 1 to 4): how the returner positions to make the catch, and how explosive he is coming off the catch. Comments (with reps) for each returner:
* Chris Moore (3) Showed limited explosiveness on the first 2 reps, but finished with a fine rep on his 3rd.
* Tim White (5) bobbled 1 rep momentarily and fumbled another. He had 2 explosive reps and I’m sure he’s likely to get more chances based on his success as a receiver.
* Keenan Reynolds (2) looked terrific in OTAs, but didn’t show much on Friday. He sauntered out of 1 catch and made another play on the ball low.
* Michael Campanaro (6) is well ahead of the others. He had 1 rep where he ranged far to his right to collect the ball, but caught the ball mid chest and exploded into the return. I scored all but 1 of his reps as a 1 for explosiveness. Rosburg described him well as a “sudden athlete”.
* Taquan Mizzell (4) wasn’t consistent on catching the ball mid chest which limited his explosiveness. Of his reps, one forced him to move far to his left for an awkward catch.
* Brandon Carr had good step-for-step coverage of Jeremy Maclin down the right sideline. Carr maintains inside position well and uses the sideline as a defender.
* Tyus Bowser caught my eye with tight coverage of Ben Watson on a shallow crossing route in 7-on-7 which ended with a QB run. Bowser is a player I am looking forward to seeing as much as any other when live fire begins Thursday. Without pads, he can’t really set the edge or rush the passer as he would normally.
* Maclin was pushed down from behind near the sideline. Quickly, the DB was admonished “don’t push him in the back” by a coach. It was a single breach in a day where the players seemed to take care of each other.
* I’m intrigued with the relationship between Lardarius Webb and Eric Weddle. Particularly when Webb is playing SCB, they seem to communicate frequently between plays. That’s something I’d expect Weddle to do for one of the younger nickels or perhaps one not familiar with the Ravens system. It’s great to see two veterans trying to make sure they understand what to expect from each other.
* It will be interesting to see how much time Brandon Boykin gets at nickel versus the Redskins. Webb appears to be the leader for that role and Boykin has not been receiving consistent SCB snaps.
* Robertson Daniel had an interesting sequence midway through practice. He undercut a throw from Dustin Vaughn for an interception and apparent TD. As he celebrated behind the play, the defense called timeout with only 10 men on the field. Daniel then sheepishly (or I am projecting?) ran back on the field as #11. A play later, he was in position to take down White in the backfield on a WR screen left.
* Carl Davis had an interception at the line of scrimmage, collecting a pass over the middle cleanly and breaking for the end zone.
* Ryan Mallett had a mediocre day. He seems slow to deliver the ball in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills where there is no pass rush and overthrew 3 open receivers in the end zone in a 6-play sequence.
Enjoy it while you can
Dean Pees had a sage observation when asked whether or not some veteran players dislike training camp. He said he thinks older often enjoy it, because “you never know when it’s going to be your last training camp.”
Watching Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle, it’s difficult to imagine them having more fun at an amusement park.
Quotes of the Day
Suggs to Dean Pees (not the officials) after a goal line flag might have been for offsides: “Give us a call.”