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Several players were excused from practice today.  Those players are part of the 30 and over club.  All took advantage of the hall pass extended by John Harbaugh except Matt Stover and Gary Stills.  Stills opted to practice and take additional reps at linebacker.
This morning’s practice was a bit sharper than yesterday’s morning session which was dominated by the defense.  Today the offense stepped up a bit thanks in part to the improved play of a few offensive tackles after being tossed around like rag dolls on Tuesday.
Up until now, the three quarterbacks were nip and tuck in terms of performance and determining a leader in that competition on a daily basis has been difficult because none of the participants has stood out.  Today Kyle Boller and Troy Smith pulled away from Joe Flacco who struggled most of the day.
That said it’s important to note that during practice, Boller and Smith exchanged handling the first team controls while Flacco took fewer snaps and most of them were taken with many players who won’t even make the team. Adding to the personnel advantage that Boller and Smith enjoyed is the fact that many times the first team offense went up against the second team defense while at times, Flacco took on what was left of the first team defense.
Here’s how some of the scrimmaging went, none of which was full contact tackling:

2:00 Offense

SMITH (2:00)
Smith to Bergen incomplete (Zbikowski)
Smith pass to Rice, 3 yards (Barnes)
Smith to Bergen, 5 yards
Smith to Willis incomplete (drop)
BOLLER  (1:30)
Boller pass to Figurs, 25 yards
Boller to Smith, 8 yards
Boller to McGahee, 5 yards
Boller to Heap 5 yards
2-05-38 (0:24)
Boller to McGahee incomplete (20 yards downfield)
3-05-38 (0:19)
Boller to Figurs, 8 yards (timeout)
1-10-30 (0:04)
Stover 38 yard field goal
FLACCO (0:30)
Rice run off draw, 0 yards (timeout)
Flacco scramble down middle, 25 yards
1-10-15 (0:16)
Flacco to Willis incomplete (thrown away after pump fake)
Flacco pass incomplete, through end zone
3-10-15 (0:07)
Flacco to Reed incomplete
Czech 32 yard field goal
BOLLER (0:30)
Boller to Heap incomplete (McClain)
Boller pass to Rice, 15 yards
Boller pass to Figurs 9 yards (Pittman)
2-01-11 (0:11)
Boller throws away (Figurs)
3-01-11 (0:05)
Stover 29 yard FG

Situational Red Zone Offense

Smith pass to Clayton left hash, 18 yards
Pass (slant) to Clayton – interference (Pittman)
Smith 5 yard run TD
Flacco to Rice incomplete (Barnes)
Screen left to McClain thrown away
Flacco forces pass into Reed at the 5, nearly intercepted by Nakamura
Flacco screen right incomplete
Flacco to Reed, out of end zone, incomplete
Flacco pass to Bergen, 3 yards


Offense: One of Troy Smith’s earlier passes today in full team scrimmaging was intercepted by Robert McCune.  McCune leaped up with both hands extended and caught the ball at the back end of his drop about 15 yards downfield.  He recovered to return the interception which arguably could have been a touchdown.  A bit later Smith found his rhythm during one on one passing drills hitting Justin Harper for a 40 yard score despite very tight coverage by David Pittman.  On the very next play, Frank Walker bit hard on a head fake by Darnerien McCants who turned up field for an easy 40 yard score from Smith.  The consecutive plays seemed to get Smith on track as he rallied to finish strong except for an ill advised pass to McCants who was well covered by Pittman.  Pittman had text book coverage and showed excellent recognition skills beating his man to the ball.  Pittman more so than McCants looked like the intended receiver.  Smith again rallied by rifling a beautifully thrown pass to Mark Clayton who has shown a knack recently for running very good comeback routes.  The pass went down as a 15 yard completion.  Smith later hit Marcus Smith on a post from the left flank to the left hash mark 30 yards downfield…Kyle Boller was the most consistent of the three quarterbacks throughout the session from start to finish and had his best day of the summer.  He read through his progressions showing rare patience and delivered tight, accurate spirals even pulling off the throttle, showing a nice touch on screens and swing passes to the backs.  As is usually the case with Boller when he is on he nails the intermediate passes inside the numbers.  Today was no exception as he hit Clayton and Todd Heap a couple of times in traffic and perhaps more importantly in stride enabling his receivers to pick up valuable yards after the catch…Joe Flacco did his best Daniel Cabrera impersonation today and was all over the place, arguably Flacco’s worst outing during camp.  He had an inauspicious start fumbling a snap but recovered on the next play threading the needle down the left hash hitting Ray Rice in stride for a gain of 20.  During one on one drills Flacco remained largely uncharacteristically inaccurate but it should be noted he didn’t get much help from his receivers.  Clayton and Matt Willis dropped very catchable balls and later on a streak down the right sideline, Flacco dropped in a nice pass to McCants over Frank Walker for an apparent TD only to have McCants get sloppy with his footwork and step out of bounds in the end zone.
Heap was sharp today, looking smooth running and being his usual sure-handed self…Adam Bergen is making the most of his added reps moving his big frame around the field and catching most balls thrown his way…If anyone thinks that Joe Reitz is a possible answer at offensive tackle, think again.  Reitz is beaten more than a Larry Mullen snare drum by Ravens’ defenders and is no less than a two year project.  He’s also well undersized…Mark Clayton has shown flashes of the talent that made him 2005’s No. 1 pick yet seemingly every practice he misses a catch or makes a bad read that a fourth year No. 1 pick shouldn’t make…Matt Willis has been sure-handed most of camp but today he let a couple go through his hands.  He did recover in 9 on 9 drills to make a nice diving catch on a ball thrown by Troy Smith…
Willis McGahee returned to action and was average.  Ray Rice continues to be the team’s offensive star in camp running and receiving…Oniel Cousins showed improvement today unless he was lined up against Antwan Barnes who had his way with the Jamaican rookie.  Everything was not irie…Mike Kracalik also played better today and was the first unit’s left tackle (Cousins lined up on the right).  Kracalik generally kept the QB clean yet on one play Dwan Edwards pancaked the reserve tackle. After practice John Harbaugh praised Kracalik’s off season development and added, “He is a competitive tackle right now.”…Jason Brown forgot the snap count on a play inside the 5.
Defense: Antwan Barnes continues to not only eat up most offensive linemen he’s also shown marked improvement in pass coverage.  Even when he’s assigned to a back or tight end who makes a catch, the play usually goes for a short gain and one that is marked short of the sticks.  He’s making the most of his added reps…Bart Scott was quick up the middle on a blitz, circa 2006.  He had a sack and also showed decent cover skills when picking up the elusive Ray Rice out of the backfield.  During 7 on 7’s Scott deflected a pass intended for Rice…Fabian Washington had a very solid day.  He showcased his speed closing in on a deep pass to Yamon Figurs who initially had a couple steps on Washington.  Washington was able to knock the ball through the hands of Figurs with a solid slap just as the pair entered the end zone.  Washington later dove for a ball intended for Mark Clayton and slapped it away.  The effort inspired kudos from the coaching staff…Tom Zbikowski delivered a jolt to the much bigger Adam Bergen on a crossing route that separated Bergen from the football.  Jarret Johnson looked good coming off the left edge during passing situations.
Special Teams: The two kickers were flawless this morning each connecting from 20, 32, 44 and 50.  Stover was really in the zone today and feeling his Wheaties.  He also connected from 56 yards out.  Both he and Piotr Czech practiced the pooch punt from the field goal formation.  Both need more work.  Their punts were largely ineffective.
NOTABLES & QUOTABLES: John Harbaugh let the top secret out – Ed Reed’s injury is a shoulder strain.  Harbaugh said that Reed is working to get the shoulder back to full strength before he takes the practice field…Harbaugh and coaching assistant Brad Jackson along with Rex Ryan donned the fluorescent special teams’ caps again and “streaked” downfield to simulate the kick off team.  Harbaugh looked like he pulled a hamstring during the drills but no one expects him to pull a P.J. Daniels and call out due to cramps…When asked about evaluating players, Harbaugh explained that every day, every play players are evaluated but admitted that performances during preseason games will receive the closest scrutiny.
MIA: Jared Gaither (ankle); Haloti Ngata (knee); Demetrius Williams (foot); P.J. Daniels (cramps); Ed Reed (shoulder); Terrell Suggs (protest); Cory Ross (arm); Samari Rolle (bereavement), Patrick Carter (arm); Dan Cody (foot); Justin Green (undisclosed); Adam Terry (ankle); Edgar Jones (leg) and Daniel Wilcox (toe).    The 30 plus gang who took the day off included: Chris McAlister; Brendon Ayanbadejo; Derrick Mason; Ray Lewis; Kelly Gregg and Trevor Pryce.
Photo by Sabina Moran

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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 and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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