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Today’s practice was witnessed by a very sparse gathering. Apparently there was some confusion as to whether the practice was open to the public. Those that did attend were not treated to a very exciting practice.
During 9 on 7 drills (offense/defense), exercises designed to aid the rushing attack, Haloti Ngata went down and got up slowly, favoring that sore left knee. He did continue practicing but he certainly showed signs of being bothered by the tender MCL strain.
The Ravens ran their quasi scout teams today to prepare for the Eagles on Thursday. Brian St. Pierre took most of the scout team snaps and did a nice job simulating the ball handling of Donovan McNabb. St. Pierre faked a hand off, kept the ball on his hip and rolled to his left lofting a pass towards Quinn Sypniewski. Ed Reed read the fake perfectly and closed on the play quickly. Had it been live action, he would have blown the play up but even during the simulated action he did enough to force the incompletion. During the play Brian Billick encouraged his defense saying, “[You] gotta keep McNabb in.”
When the offense took the field, the Ravens ran a play unique to their repertoire against the scout defense. During the play, McNair faked a handoff to Jamal Lewis and dropped back to pass. He then hit Lewis in the right flat on a screen. The execution was adequate but needs some polish.
Jamal Lewis continued the momentum he established on Friday. He is running inside the tackles with purpose and with very little wasted motion. Also continuing a theme established on Friday, the Ravens are showing many different offensive formations and they appear to be determined to go against past tendencies. Today in an H-back formation, Daniel Wilcox acted as Jamal Lewis’ lead back. Typically Lewis follows the lead back and reads that block. Today Lewis took the ball and ran a slant off the outside edge of the right tackle with all other pursuit following the lead of Wilcox going left.
The Ravens have shown the reverse often in camp. Today the scout team offense ran it against the No. 1 defense. Dawan Landry did a nice job containing the play for no gain. Landry ran most reps with the first team.
The Ravens No. 1 offense then ran the 2 minute drill starting at their own 35 per usual with the game clock set at 1:30 with 2 timeouts. All plays were run from the shotgun formation:
1-10-35: McNair to Heap, 5 yards (1:30)
2-05-40: McNair to Clayton, 6 yards (1:13)
1-10-46: Incomplete intended for Heap (0:51)
2-10-46: Incomplete intended for Mason (0:45)
3-10-46: McNair to Mason, 14 yards TIMEOUT (0:41)
1-10-40: Incomplete intended for Mason (0:33)
2-10-40: McNair to Clayton, 15 yards (0:27)
1-10-25: McNair dirts ball to kill clock (0:11)
2-10-25: McNair to Mason, 7 yards (0:06)
Stover 35 yard FG
Special teams were given a little extra time and not surprisingly it was all spent on the punting team. Leo Araguz had 12 punts ranging from 39 yards to 55 yards, most of which were in the 45-50 range. Three of his punts were high arching beauties all over 50 yards. Sam Koch hit only 4 punts and they ranged from 40 yards to 50 yards.
Frank Gansz, Jr. had his returners running from sideline to sideline continuously, from one would be tackler to the next in order to emphasize wrapping up when tackling – no doubt the byproduct of poor tackling on the Giants punt return for a score on Friday. He chastised P.J. Daniels, telling him to wrap up and get his arms around the ball carrier. He reminded Daniels that he didn’t do that on Friday: “That’s what you did in the game and you were run over by a 145 pound guy!”
Other observations: Demetrius Williams caught a 40 yard TD pass down the left sideline from St. Pierre. Williams arguably used his arms to create separation; Matt Katula has been flawless in camp; Kyle Boller received very limited work today as the first units ran against the scout teams. Boller was part of neither; Steve McNair when not under center was seen conversing with Rick Neuheisel no doubt as part of an effort to gain further command of the offense; Daniel Wilcox short-armed a ball thrown by Boller down the right seam. The pass was perfectly place but Wilcox quit on it when safety Shannon James closed quickly. Wilcox when retreating back to the huddle said, “Nice pass.”
Jarrett Johnson nearly picked off a pass from St. Pierre out in the left flat intended for Bobby Blizzard; McNair’s ball handling skills are extremely smooth and his calm demeanor and quiet body language gets defenders flat footed momentarily; speaking of quiet, Terrell Suggs has been unusually quiet during practice and wasn’t very noticeable during his brief outing on Friday. Trevor Pryce has also been quiet. It should be interesting to observe both on Thursday; Bart Scott was seen dropping back into the safety spot during a few plays today, further evidence that Rex Ryan will continue to show many different looks in order to disguise his defensive alignments. Scott earlier blew a coverage assignment on a back coming out in the offensive right flat; Dan Cody worked with Tony Pashos and Michael McCrary after practice to work on refining Cody’s pass rushing skills. Nice display of teamwork there from Pashos. Cody’s dedication has been praised by many in the organization.
Jonathan Ogden did not practice but was seen working on agility drills and with the blocking sled along the sidelines and adjoining field. Brother Marques was in attendance again. It appears doubtful that Ogden will be in uniform for Thursday’s contest; Brian Rimpf was working gingerly along the sidelines. He was seen with a supportive stocking on his injured left leg. There is not any official word in at this writing. Team officials indicated that they are still awaiting MRI results; David Pittman practiced but was rather transparent; Samari Rolle and Ray Lewis both practiced; Clarence Moore once again did not.