Offense Flashes The Speed Phil Hoffmann/Baltimore Ravens

Camp Notes Offense Flashes The Speed

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh wore a t-shirt that read “Speed Kills” on Thursday, the seventh day of training camp.

It was an apt fashion choice.

One day after being cleared to practice, Ravens receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown ramped up his work and showed the type of quickness that could potentially make him a lethal weapon this season.

Brown flawlessly handled punts during special teams drills, exploding down field once the ball was secured in his hands. He also continued his rapport with Lamar Jackson, catching intermediate passes down the sideline and middle of the field. Perhaps, most impressively, Brown seemed to be on another level than the other receivers when he was performing his footwork under the watchful eye of receivers coach David Culley.

“I’ve been waiting on this,” he said. “Being out here made me realize I have to work even harder.”

Brown faces lofty expectations as the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He will play a key role in a revamped offense that is centered around speed and keeping opponents on their heels. 

However, the Ravens had to wait to get a closer look at Brown as he spent the offseason recovering from Lisfranc surgery. Coach John Harbaugh certainly did not want to rush him back and risk further injury. Brown is still being limited to individual drills.

The conservative approach appears to be paying dividends.  

“I feel great,” Brown said. “The training staff here is great. I give them all the credit. I just followed what I had to do.”

Last year, Brown finished with 75 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Oklahoma Sooners. The Ravens are hopeful that success can translate to the NFL.

The key now is for Brown to continue his work with Lamar Jackson, who also can mesmerize defenses with his speed. The two players already have some history.

“I played against him [in pee-wee football]. It feels great,” Brown said. “We’ve been working. He’s been throwing me the ball stationary. Now that I’m able to move and catch the ball from him, it felt pretty good.”

Both Brown and Jackson have also connected off the field. In fact, Brown has been driving Jackson home after practice.

Maybe Jackson can return the favor by throwing him touchdown passes. 

“I think it’s going to be pretty good,” Brown said about his relationship with Jackson. “Off the field, we’re real tight, real cool. On the field, it’ll be like that.”

Grigsby, Trawick Add to Competition

Harbaugh has paid close attention to the special teams, which could be  deciding factor on whether or not a player is part of the final 53-man roster.

The team signed two more players in the past 24 hours to add to the competition with linebacker Nicholas Grigsby and safety Brynden Trawick.

Both players made their debut on Day 7 and have extensive experience on special teams. In short, the battle in this year’s training camp just got more difficult. 

Grigsby, who was on the Ravens practice squad in 2017 before signing with the Patriots, provides depth at inside linebacker, where the team is thin. 

Trawick, who signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and spent three years with the team, also has the potential to make an impact. In 2017, he was named to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player for Tennessee and adds valuable depth at safety.

Tight Ends Shine

Jackson has found success connecting with his sure-handed tight ends throughout the early days of camp. On Day 7, he found Hayden Hurst in stride down the middle of the field for a long touchdown. It was easily the play of the day for the offense. Hurst is quietly putting together one of the best camps of any player on the offensive side of the ball. He will be a force if he can stay healthy. 

‘Iron Sharpens Iron’

The overall offense has looked mostly uneven. However, some of that can be attributed to the talent and depth in the secondary. Receivers are having little room to work and Harbaugh said the challenge will only make Jackson and the rest of the offense better.

Cornerback Anthony Averett is third on the depth chart but played with the starters on Day 7 because both Jimmy Smith (personal matter) and Brandon Carr (veteran day off) did not practice. Averett has coverage skills that would earn him a starting spot for several other NFL teams. 

“[Jackson] is seeing so many different looks, coverages, fronts and blitzes that you couldn’t put on a card, and yet, he sees them every day just as a matter of course and has to deal with them,” Harbaugh said. “So, you’re going to have plays like that. Our defense is going to make plays, and he’s going to be surprised, and there’s no game-planning going on or anything like that. But, to have to deal with those guys back there on the other side has to be a plus for a developing quarterback, for all those guys.” … 

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About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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