As the Ravens prepare to host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday evening, they practiced in shells and shorts and worked mostly on technique. Some phases could have been categorized as a further install of the playbook. Monday’s practice wasn’t particularly eventful (not always a bad thing), but here are a few observations.
Chris Johnson Released
Prior to the start of practice, the team announced that cornerback Chris Johnson had been cut. Johnson was sidelined from practice with migraines according to the Ravens official website and he had previously donned a red non-contact jersey during practice.
Johnson was released eight days prior to the August 27th 4:00 p.m. deadline for teams to trim their rosters from 90 to 75 players.
Losing Johnson isn’t a big loss to the team as he was signed for depth at corner last season following injuries to Lardarius Webb (ACL) and Jimmy Smith (sports hernia). Johnson saw limited action while a member of the team, playing in four games, and starting one. Fortunately for Johnson, his short tenure with the team was enough to earn him the experience to go to the Super Bowl and earn a ring for his efforts last season.
Ed Dickson Headlines Returning Players
After missing the past few weeks with a hamstring injury, tight end Ed Dickson returned to practice and was limited in his role. Dickson worked on some individual drills and didn’t do much with the team on the field.
Also returning were WR Torrey Smith (rest), OLB Elvis Dumervil and RB Anthony Allen (undisclosed).
First-Team Pass Catchers Feature Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark
Two of the newest faces on offense have also found themselves playing with the starters.
For the second straight practice, Brandon Stokley has been working as the team’s top slot receiver and Dallas Clark has leapfrogged Visanthe Shiancoe as the top tight end. The Ravens clearly want to get these guys some increased reps in practice, as they still are familiarizing themselves with the playbook. However, considering the battle for playing time in those positions, it’s not likely the coaches would remove Shiancoe or Tandon Doss from seeing reps with the first team in favor of the newcomers, unless Stokley and Clark had indeed leapfrogged them on the depth chart.
Daryl Smith Impressive
If you see Ozzie Newsome out in public, tip your cap to the Ravens general manager. Once again, he’s made a solid move.
Signing Daryl Smith has been one of the Ravens most underrated moves during the offseason. Not only has Smith shown that he’ll be the starting “Mike” linebacker for the defense, he’s made the transition from retired linebacker Ray Lewis as seamless as possible.
While Smith and Lewis may have different ways of going about things, both are excellent teachers and veterans that younger that younger players look up to.
Even during what was considered a slow practice without many moving parts, Smith was in the right place at the right time, batting down passes in coverage and always found himself near the ball. He’s been the most consistent defensive player thus far throughout the preseason, and that’s been the case both during games and on the practice field.
Aaron Mellette Continues To Push
On Sunday, John Harbaugh had stated that some of the younger standout wide receivers would see increased playing time with the first team offense on Thursday against Carolina. Even though Harbaugh didn’t specifically name any individual players, one would have to figure that the two receivers eligible for a bump in the depth chart are seventh-round pick Aaron Mellette (Elon) and Marlon Brown, who went undrafted from Georgia.
Mellette was targeted many times during practice today. Once catch that stood out was a great corner grab in the end zone, where he made sure to keep his feet down inbounds, and went 55 yards for a touchdown from Joe Flacco over cornerback Marc Anthony.
Catch Of The Day
The catch of the day goes to undrafted rookie tight end Matt Furstenburg (Maryland). Towards the end of practice, Furstenburg made a terrific one-handed catch while covered by both Michael Huff and Daryl Smith. Furstenburg has been consistent throughout camp, but his status on the depth chart hasn’t changed that much – he should still be considered a bubble player at best. Still, he’s certainly one to watch over the next two weeks.
That’s All, Folks
The Ravens are making a change to their schedule as tomorrow was supposed to be the final day for media viewing at training camp. As the team is already making preparations for their first regular season game against the Denver Broncos, all sessions outside of the opening special teams practice will be closed to the media.
Please stick around to www.RussellStreetReport.com, as we’ll still be bringing you quotes from the team and attending media sessions for player interviews.
For more Ravens news and information, follow me on Twitter @RavenManiac.