TRAINING CAMP NOTES: Defense Finds its Swagger

Camp Notes TRAINING CAMP NOTES: Defense Finds its Swagger

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OFFENSE

Joe Flacco had a rough day on Wednesday seemingly rattled by Chuck Pagano’s aggressive blitz packages. The Ravens’ QB was handicapped in part by a few things: 1) A patchwork offensive line missing starters Birk, Grubbs & Yanda; 2) A less than impressive trio of receivers running with the first team (Boldin, Justin Harper & Brandon Jones); and the fact that the offense was practicing pass plays almost exclusively and Pagano’s unit knew it.

That said, Flacco still struggled during 6 on 7 drills (as opposed to the more common 7 on 7), unable to find open receivers and holding on to the ball too long.
 
Tyrod Taylor had a decent day but clearly not the practice that Cam Cameron has been selling to the public. Cameron lobbied for Taylor on draft day so his enthusiasm needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Also, he could be selling Taylor to the media so the Ravens don’t appear so desperate for a veteran backup. Don’t buy the hype.
 
Anquan Boldin seems to be relishing his role as Flacco’s newest favorite target. During one sequence Flacco hit Boldin on three consecutive passes for a combined 36 yards, picking on Domonique Foxworth each time.
 
Tandon Doss is ahead of fellow draft classmate Torrey Smith for the moment. Smith has been slowed by some mild hamstring issues but the former Terp lacks Doss’ polish and route running skills. It looks like Joe Flacco has an eye for talent. You may recall that Flacco endorsed Doss after looking at film of the former Hoosier prior to the draft.
 
Don’t be too quick to pencil in Ed Dickson as the starter at tight end. Dennis Pitta without a doubt will compete for the job and is hardly conceding it to the speedy former Duck. One Ravens source shared that he thought Pitta has been outplaying Dickson. The same source cautioned however that blocking assignments will be a work in progress for both, just as they were for Heap during his developmental years. The highlight of the day was a 79 yard connection between Flacco and Dickson on a back shoulder throw that went for a score.
 
It looks like Anthony Allen is second on the depth chart judging from his reps with the first unit yesterday, spelling Ray Rice. However, keep an eye on UDFA Damien Berry who has quick feet and very good change of direction skills. Unfortunately Berry has been plagued by butterfingers.
 
Right tackle Jah Reid received plenty of reps with both the first and second units. Reid is tough, unflappable and has a strong core. He looks like a prototypical right tackle and held his own against the defense’s pass rush, including Terrell Suggs who was knocked to the turf by Reid on one play. On another play he pancaked Arkansas UDFA LB Anthony Leon (all 221 pounds of him). Barring any setbacks, look for Reid to be the opening day starter.
 
The interior of the offensive line looks shaky for now. Ben Grubbs is working through the soreness of ankle surgery, Matt Birk is out and Marshal Yanda can’t take the field until the CBA issues are finalized (perhaps by today). The Ravens need a center. Besides Birk the roster as of now includes 3 centers with a combined 2 games played in the NFL.
 
DEFENSE
 
The swagger appears to be back. DC Chuck Pagano’s enthusiasm is seemingly infectious and the Ravens defense was by leaps and bounds the more confident unit on the field yesterday. Pagano enables the organized chaos that his unit thirsts for. Those days when the defense sought to outscore the offense are back. Players registering multiple sacks included: Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Jarret Johnson and Paul Kruger.
 
Ed Reed was vocal and active, sporting a No. 3 jersey and even showing a nice burst when blitzing on occasion. Jimmy Smith sat out with a groin tweak for the second consecutive practice. Lardarius Webb lined up in his spot with the 1’s. Marcus Paschal played beside Reed at safety. Zbikowski and Nakamura are not permitted to practice just yet, awaiting the complete CBA ratification. Zibby is also recovering from a skin infection. Foxworth was the other corner playing with the 1’s.
 
Sergio Kindle continues to move well although he’s more effective rushing the passer than he is in coverage. LB Pernell McPhee looks like a pretty decent pass rusher. He’ll be a guy who could surprise and is clearly one to keep an eye on…The coaches and scouts are jazzed about Paul Kruger’s development. Some friendly wagers have been placed amongst the scouts and coaches on the number of sacks the former Ute registers in 2011. The over/under number is 6…Suggs was vocal as usual and repeatedly tried to get into Flacco’s head. He looks like he’ll pick up where he left off in 2010.
 
LB Jason Philips struggled at times and he could be in jeopardy of making the team unless he’s simply an outstanding producer on Jerry Rosburg’s special teams unit…Arthur Jones was the recipient of enthusiastic kudos from D-Line coach Clarence Moore after he knifed into the offensive backfield to disrupt a play.
 
A FEW NEWCOMERS WHO STOOD OUT
 
Besides the aforementioned standouts, a couple other new faces who impressed yesterday included: UDFA WR LaQuan Williams (Maryland); UDFA WR Terrell Zachary (Auburn); UDFA CB’s Talmadge Jackson (Oregon) and Josh Victorian (Louisiana Tech)
 
ONE WHO STOOD OUT FOR THE WRONG REASONS
 
CB Chykie Brown, who seemed to be imitating Frank Walker.

 

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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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