Friday’s practice was host to a few too little ‘wow’ plays, a few too many flags, and plenty of fiery tempers.
We’ll save the highlights for the end, simply so that we can end on a high note. For now, let’s talk about the cringeworthy moments of the day.
The offense once again gave us a few bright moments, but sprinkled in a few facepalm-worthy plays as well. Out of the gates on the first play in 11-on-11 action, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram muffed a handoff, leading to an early fumble. Considering handoffs were a major concern and reason for 4 of Lamar Jackson’s fumbles in 2018, this is obviously not an ideal scene for the 2nd year QB.
A change in guard (literally) brought James Hurst over to right guard in Marshal Yanda’s absence, while rookie Ben Powers slid back to the 2nd unit. With Powers dropped down, Jermaine Eluemenor took over the first unit left tackle… only to draw a pair of false start penalties in the first 30 minutes of practice, prompting him to run a few laps.
Speaking of penalties, there were more than a few called in practice today.
False starts aplenty, offsides called even more, offensive pass interference, defensive pass interference, offensive holding, defensive holding… just a hot mess of flags being thrown by the NFL refs in town (arrived yesterday to officiate practice Thursday through Saturday).
With a vast majority of the flags being throw in the name of defensive penalties, many of the Ravens 1st unit players began lamenting the calls that they clearly deemed egregious. At one juncture in an 11-on-11 scrimmage, Lamar Jackson hit Miles Boykin on the near sideline, with Mo Canady being flagged for a Defensive Pass Interference. Matt Judon chimed in, telling the official ‘the offense can do no wrong!’ and to ‘put parking cones out there instead.’
As play continued and more flags hit the ground, the defensive sideline gripes grew louder, prompting John Harbaugh to shout back at the defensive players about their upcoming opponent- the Jacksonville Jaguars- and how the ‘Jags don’t want to hear that sh*t’ and told them ‘go kick some ass!’
Unfortunately, the defensive woes didn’t stop there.
In three consecutive plays towards the end of practice, the defense was drawn offsides (Chris Wormley, Shane Ray, Cyrus Jones) in large part due to hard counts by Lamar Jackson and Trace McSorely. When shifting the offense down towards the end zone for a final drill, Coach Harbaugh again ripped the defense, namely Jones, who he sent off the field.
“That’s what costs you games!” Harbaugh shouted at the defensive players. “If you’re going to cost us games? You’re not worth it!”
At that juncture, Marlon Humphrey began to chirp in the general direction of Coach Harbaugh, prompting a back and forth between coach and his star cornerback, with Harbs asking Humphrey if he was the coach, and if he had something to say, to come say it. Instead, Humphrey jogged in the general direction of recently booted Cyrus Jones, and the scene deescalated.
A rough ending to practice, for sure, and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any carry over tomorrow when the same NFL officiating crews will be on hand once again.
As promised, there were a few highlights worthy of praise.
While I’ve stressed the development in Lamar Jackson’s short and intermediate game, I focused on his deep ball more today. My biggest takeaway is the lack of ‘ducks’ and more tight spiral passes today than previous days in camp. He did overthrow a few balls, but timing routes with receivers the next 4 weeks will hopefully help to fine tune that aspect.
Chris Moore had himself a day, highlighted by a Jackson pass that Moore tapped to himself around the defender down the middle of the field. Moore was also the main target of Jackson for 4 of his first 5 drop backs in the final 11-on-11, catching 3 of 4 targets and being used all over the field.
Seth Roberts once again had a decent showing with 5 catches, including a Jackson pass tipped at the line that Roberts tracked and reeled in for an 8 yard gain.
In the run game, Kenneth Dixon once again found himself breaking off a pair of big runs with the second unit, while Gus Edwards saw some action in the pass game, catching a Jackson pass out of the backfield and scampering for 10 yards.
Defensively, there’s plenty to be happy about (we’ll just ignore the penalties and tempers at this juncture).
Rookies Jaylon Ferguson and Gerald Willis contributed to the pass rush today, finding each other in the backfield with Joe Callahan at one juncture during practice. In Ferguson, I also noticed a great showing in setting the edge on several occasions, namely one instance keeping up with fellow rookie Justice Hill as he tried to break left and hit the edge around Sack Daddy.
Aaron Adeoye also showed some bend on the edge today, as he got around left tackle RJ Prince on back to back plays, putting pressure on Callahan. The pressure on QB’s became a theme once again: Tim Williams had a sack, while Justin Bethel, Cyrus Jones, Brandon Carr and new (again) Ravens safety Bryden Trawick applied pressures of their own.
In the secondary, Mo Canady again had a solid showing, along with Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey having a shutdown day.
Play of the Day: Trace McSorley pass to Antoine Wesley down the right sideline. Wesley leaps, makes a midair adjustment on the ball, reels in the catch over Anthony Averett for 20 yards.
Player of the Day: Chris Moore
- Miles Boykin ran a red zone go route against Jimmy Smith– had 3 steps on him before he even reached the goal line.
- Punting drills may not be the sexiest of topics, but watching Sam Koch time and time again pin the football inside the 10 yard line with a pair of punts hitting the one and bouncing away from the goal line is amazing to see.
- Kaare Vedvik spent more time punting than kicking today. His hang time and distance are surely impressive and right up there with Koch.
- The running backs and tight ends spent a good bit of time on multiple pass protection drills today. Notably, Justice Hill is already showing improvements in this aspect of his game.
- The Ravens ran a 7-on-7 today focused heavily on backs and tight ends in motion. Worth noting- they ran a handful of plays with multiple backs lined up as receivers, with Justice Hill (slot) and Gus Edwards (near sideline) the most interesting combo.