OTA NOTES: Flacco Spotted and the WR Games Begin

Wide Receiver

The Ravens practiced in their shorts and shells yesterday in conditions very similar to those they will be forced to endure when training camp begins in late July.

This group of OTA’s is not mandatory and as expected, several players were not in attendance including: Terrell Suggs; Haloti Ngata; Marshal Yanda; Vonta Leach; Bernard Pierce; Marcus Spears; Chris Canty; James Ihedigbo (who did get on the bus bound for the Beach Bash along with teammates Omar Brown, Chykie Brown, Adrian Hamilton and Deonte Thompson); Chris Johnson; Antoine McClain.

Many will debate the significance of players who choose not to participate in the voluntary OTA’s. Arguments can and will be made to defend or criticize the players but from my perspective, it’s difficult to make excuses or provide logical reasoning why newcomers or those battling to earn a spot on the team would want to miss any opportunity to practice with teammates. Their motivations or lack thereof at the very least should be questioned.

Speaking of motivation, some who showed up appeared noticeably leaner and/or in better shape including: Bryant McKinnie; Jimmy Smith; Damien Berry; Nigel Carr and Bobby Rainey. One person who appeared to turn into a marsupial during the offseason and sported a hefty pouch around the mid-section was Courtney Upshaw.

Upshaw’s conditioning is rather disappointing. Last summer you may recall the former national champion from Alabama spent a lot of energy getting down to a playing weight in the neighborhood of 270. In 2012 he reported around the 290 mark. For the moment he seems to be at or beyond a rather sloppy 290.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

Last year the difference in size between centers Matt Birk and Gino Gradkowski was very noticeable. Almost as noticeable is the difference in size between Gradkowski and his primary competitor A.Q. Shipley. It was hard not to think of Kelly Gregg while observing Shipley.

The position of wide receiver will be watched closely throughout training camp and during preseason games. Initial indications are that Jacoby Jones will be given the opportunity to win the No. 2 spot opposite Torrey Smith. Other candidates include Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams, Tommy Streeter, David Reed and Aaron Mellette.

Some may look good, even great at times before the threat of contact is introduced. For the moment it looks like it’s Jones’ job to lose but keep an eye on Deonte Thompson. Coaches Jim Caldwell and Jim Hostler (receivers coach) have been impressed with the former Florida Gator’s route running, change-of-direction skills, working ethic and toughness…Aaron Mellette looked smooth and seems like a natural pass catcher…It may be an optical illusion but Torrey Smith looks much smaller sans dreads.

Joe Flacco targeted Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson often, almost always with favorable results. Both are moving extremely well and both were seen lining up outside of the tackle box on several occasions…UDFA TE Matt Furstenburg (Maryland) looked a bit like Quinn Sypniewski on the practice field. A physical tight end with ball catching skills would be a welcomed addition to the Ravens roster…Rookie Kyle Juszczyk lined up as a second tight end (sometimes on the same side as another tight end) and often as the full back, filling in for the missing Vonta Leach.

Ramon Harewood ran with the 1’s at right guard filling in for Yanda…Jah Reid assumed the same position with the 2’s…At left tackle with the 2’s was 6’8”, 335 pound Virginia Union product David Mims.

The slimmer versions of Rainey and Berry looked quicker at running back. Special teams will ultimately determine their respective fates…Ray Rice was limited but looked quick while flashing sharp on change-of-direction skills.

Defensively the top corners for this afternoon’s workout were Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham. Smith looks like he’s added lean muscle mass…Lardarius Webb was at an unspecified location working with trainers to speed his recovery process from his ACL surgery…At inside linebacker with Albert McClellan (unspecified) out along with Arthur Brown (sports hernia) and Jameel McClain (concussed spine), Josh Bynes took many reps and was joined at times by Bryan Hall and to a lesser extent Adrian Hamilton. Hamilton was involved in the first skirmish of 2013 with an unspecified offensive lineman.

Contact isn’t generally encouraged but sometimes it is unavoidable during OTA’s. On a stretch running play featuring Ray Rice the most disruptive force (with minimal effort) was Brandon Williams. His strength is undeniable and it will be extremely interesting to see what he can do when the real whistle blows…Many are interested in what Michael McAdoo might bring this season. It’s difficult to see him as anything but a limited situational player. His build is slight and seems even leaner than former Raven Tommy Polley.

FUNNY “SPOTTING”

During a stretch when the two-minute offense was practiced and the speakers blared with a variety of tunes (including Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’) to simulate crowd noise, Joe Flacco was missing. As I surveyed the field looking for one of the four players wearing red jerseys, I notice the Super Bowl MVP popping out of the “Johnny-On-The-Spot”. Hey when you’ve got to go you’ve got to go.

But the amusing part (at least to me) was that Flacco emerged from “Johnny” with his helmet on.

I suppose those things do have a tendency to get a bit nasty.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

18 Raves on “OTA NOTES: Flacco Spotted and the WR Games Begin

  1. Evan on said:

    I really think we need to add a wide receiver. i really despise tandon doss because he is a 4th round pick and is just not that good. the only wide receiver i like on roster besides torrey and jacoby is deonte thompson he is very good but young. we should look at a trade for steve smith or santonio holmes they would be good options for us and pretty cheap. we could even get a wide receiver tomorrow june 2, because we will have 4 million dollars in cap space from the pollard release.

    • Lucas on said:

      The Panthers would never part ways with Steve Smith, except for a high draft pick that I don’t Ozzie would be willing to give up. Santonio Holmes is a diva. Remember a few years ago when the Jets were in a position to get into the playoffs if they won their final game? Holmes got upset because he didn’t get the ball enough, and then started pouting, and then took himself out of the game. That’s unacceptable, especially from a team captain. He has no place in an organization like the Ravens.

      • Ed in ON on said:

        Steve Smith cost more money than we can afford under the cap.

        And you despise Tandon Doss? Give the guy a break. he was drafted 2 years ago, didn’t play as a rookie, and had limited opportunities last year. This year is make or break for him though

    • Mike Rice on said:

      Doss has hardly even played . It’s not fair to judge the guy with almost no field time and having to practice with Taylor and the try to connect with Flacco. Even in the WC game one of his misses was clear PO because Davis hooked hi inside arm and climbed his back well before the ball got there. He showed his speed in Cinci and showed he could have success against corners like Cason even when Boldin couldn’t.

      • Evan on said:

        Do u remember the game against the colts he dropped like 3 touchdown passes. I just think harbaugh thinks too highly of him. I think Deontae Thompson will be a star.

    • Robert Fuse on said:

      I think you still have that game where he dropped a few passes fresh in your mind. He has always been known as a player with good hands.

  2. Scott on said:

    The Ravens are not signing a veteran WR *unless* it’s somebody who is a high quality starter cut late by another team and falls to us at the right price. That’s unlikely to happen because we would have to out-bid SF for that same guy, which is desperate to find a replacement for it’s injured #1 WR Crabtree. Frankly, I think having been burned twice by such late-cut WRs (Evans and Housh), I don’t see Ozzie being all that excited about this possibility. In both cases, it turned out there were justifiably cut by their original teams.

    The challenge isn’t adding a WR, it’s figuring out who gets cut. We have eight very promising WRs in camp (and even a 9th in intriguing practice squad candidate Marlon Brown). Obviously Jones won’t be cut. Deonte Thompson has made the team. I don’t think Doss will be cut just because he had a couple of drops against Indy in the playoffs. People forget that even Boldin, Mr. Clutch of 2012, dropped an easy 3rd down TD pass against the Steelers in the 2010 playoffs that would have won the game. I don’t think they’re cutting Streeter — 6-5″ WRs who can run a 4.4 don’t grow on trees, and it sounds like he got stronger and more sound in his route running during his redshirt year. Aaron Mellette isn’t going to be cut (although he might get redshirted with a mysterious injury). I think they like David Reed too much on special teams to cut him, and apparently he flashes at practices big time. That leaves LaQuan Williams as the likely odd man out. But even if they cut him, that still leaves too many WRs on the roster — they’ll probably keep 5 or maybe 6, but not 7. Remember, if they keep Furstenburg as a 3rd TE, and they keep both Leach and JuiceCheck at FB, that doesn’t leave much room for extra WR roster spots in the final 53. So again, if you pick up a veteran WR, who do you cut?

  3. Josh on said:

    Disappointing news about Upshaw. How did Jacoby look during drills? Does “Furst Down” look as though he could stick?

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      Jacoby looked fine…caught a TD pass over Jimmy Smith. “Furst” is built like Quinn Sypniewski. Not as fluid as Pitta or Dickson catching the ball but his value will be as a blocking TE and special teams. We’ll keep an eye out.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      Simon….to soon to tell. These practices generally give you a better feel for the skill positions but coaches are raving about the maturity and love of the game the 2013 rookie class possesses.

  4. Evan on said:

    Don’t forget if we do get a wide receiver we can put a few players on the practice squad or ir. after thinking about it again i think our best option at wide receiver who isn’t on our team is Nate Washington

  5. karl on said:

    Another prospect that intrigues is KLM. I Know he’s a redshirt this season but he could be well worth the wait.

    Adrian Hamilton at ILB is interest ing too

  6. Josh on said:

    Could you gauge anything from Omar Brown? With Christian Thompson’s suspension, I imagine Brown will be given a major opportunity to make the team and contribute.

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