TRAINING CAMP NOTES: Ravens hold open practice, Harbaugh: ‘Joe was on the money’

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BALTIMORE — Jacoby Jones broke toward the left corner of the end zone, racing past rookie cornerback Jordan Mabin to create enough space for Joe Flacco to lob him the football.

Jones’ burgeoning chemistry with Flacco was on display as the veteran wide receiver hauled in a back-shoulder touchdown catch on a fade route.

It was a crisp moment during the Baltimore Ravens’ open practice Saturday night before 20,324 at M&T Bank Stadium.

And it was a much different experience for Jones than the last time he played in this stadium during an AFC divisional playoff game in January when he was with the Houston Texans.

“This is my first time they cheered for me instead of booing me,” said Jones, who fumbled twice in that playoff game before signing a two-year, $6.5 million contract with Baltimore this spring. “I felt good in that purple, being a part of the Ravens Nation. It was fun. It was a good practice. It was nice to get out there under those lights. I had that adrenaline pumping.”

So did Flacco and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Flacco appeared to have good rhythm with his receivers, finding wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a score and connecting often with Jones.

“Yeah, you know it’s funny,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We look really, really sharp the last couple of days in practice. Came out here and looked sharp, but I think because of the setting, it wasn’t quite there like it was the last two days, a couple of drops, things like that. Joe is really on the money, so that’s good to see.”

And Taylor dashed away from the defense in a red-zone drill, demonstrating his athleticism as he scored twice on designed scrambles.

“I thought Tyrod played really well,” Harbaugh said. “Tyrod looked good, made a lot of plays. Tyrod is a very accurate passer. He was on time, played well.”

Meanwhile, kickers Billy Cundiff and Justin Tucker had strong performances.

Cundiff connected on 7 of 8 field goals with his only miss a few yards shy of 65 yards while Tucker, an undrafted rookie looking to unseat the former Pro Bowl selection, made all seven of his tries with a long of 63 yards.

“It’s amazing, the competitiveness in these guys,” Harbaugh said. “Both of those guys kicked about as well as you could kick.”

Defensively, $50 million shutdown cornerback Lardarius Webb intercepted a Chester Stewart pass and deflected several passes.

Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed intercepted a deflected pass.

Overall, the offense appeared to win the majority of the matchups.

“It’s always good to get out there in front of the fans, very excited to be out there,” Boldin said. “It allows the younger guys to get a chance to get in the stadium and see how it feels. I thought especially on offense we were sharp and moved the ball down the field. I’m pretty satisfied.”

Thirteen players didn’t practice at all, including six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk because of back spasms and rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw with a sprained shoulder.

There were only two new injuries sustained Saturday, and both are relatively minor.

Tight end Ed Dickson got poked in his right eye and didn’t continue. Afterward in the locker room, his eye was bloodshot.

“He just couldn’t get it back where he could really get going,” Harbaugh said, “but he’s going to be fine.”

Dickson said he got hurt during a red-zone drill.

“It was getting blurry,” he said. “The trainers and the coaches wanted to make sure I was all right. My vision was impaired a little bit. You get poked in your eye and it started messing with your other eye. I went back in for one play.”

Right now, Dickson plans to practice Monday.

“Nah, I won’t need a few days,” Dickson said. “It’s pretty good right now, my vision. I’ve just got a headache.”

Veteran outside linebacker Darryl Blackstock headed to the training room after limping off with a leg injury.

“Yeah, he had a little muscle issue, a little groin thing,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think it’s serious, but I’m not sure what happened.”

With a large crowd on hand to watch the defending AFC North champions, the players and coaches said it was a positively charged atmosphere.

Players and coaches signed autographs during and after the practice.

“I thought it was a great night,” Harbaugh said. “I thought everyone had a lot of fun. The energy was unbelievable. Driving up here about a half hour before the gates opened, it was eight deep around the stadium to get in. When Ray Lewis came out and then when Ed came out, and I think a lot of the fans here probably saw those guys in person for real for the first time ever. They went crazy.

“I had goose bumps. It was just one of those really rare moments. The idea of practicing in here in front of this crowd is really helpful. I think we get our guys in a situation that is more like a game, and they have to handle themselves, make catches, make throws, whatever, think under pressure. It’s very helpful.”

NOTE: The Ravens had roughly 1,500 military personnel, 2,000 including their families, in attendance at practice for a military appreciation day.

“Just want to thank all the folks from the U.S. Military who were here, the family of J.T. Thompson, just all of our good friends in the military for being here,” Harbaugh said. “Thank you for what you do. Freedom is not free and we can’t do what we do without you."
 
 
 
"Photo by Dave Munch Carroll County Times” 
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About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best...more

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