Sometimes, you simply forget how absolutely mammoth NFL players can be.
This sentiment was no more apparent than this morning, as the horn blew to signal to players that their second scrimmage session was about to begin, and the Ravens defensive unit jogged over to the near sidelines. No more than six feet away from where I stood, the likes of Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, Derek Wolfe, Odafe Oweh, Daelin Hayes and Justin Houston absolutely towered over the fans and media alike. They would’ve cast one helluva collective shadow on the sidelines, had the sun not been too afraid of them to show itself…
Once I got my tangents in check, a ‘normal’ thought dawned on me… this pass rush is honestly one of the most intimidating that I can recall in recent history for this Ravens franchise. It’s such a perfect mix of veteran presence (Houston, Campbell), young proven talent (Bowser), and kids with stud potential (Madubuike, Oweh, Hayes) and it finally feels like this unit will be able to beat opponents a few different ways, notably in one-on-one situations where they’ve struggled in recent years.
They’ll all talk about the Browns and Steelers pass rush in the AFC North heading into the season, but wait until they get eyes on this squad…
As for the rest of practice today, we were treated to nearly an hour of Special Teams play (necessary, not noteworthy), followed by some seven-on-seven and full scrimmaging that features highlight reel catch after highlight reel catch (noteworthy for sure). Here’s a few of the splashy plays I’ve jotted down today:
- Josh Oliver with a one-handed catch in the end zone, bringing the pass behind him back into his body while spinning away from the defender.
- Tony Poljan with his own one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
- Binjimen Victor headed up to the third floor on the elevator, tipping the ball over the defender, hitting the turf and reeling in the catch on the sideline.
- Tylan Wallace shaking Shawn Wade out of his shoes en route to a wide open touchdown in the red zone drill session of sevens.
- Another Wallace spectacle, reeling in a forty-yard deep shot from Tyler Huntley, in the face of Anthony Averett.
- Seriously, last Wallace note: in basic one-on-one drills, Wallace put Ar’Darius Washington on skates.
- Devin Duvernay with a sliding grab in the face of Marcus Peters
- James Proche II with some last second change of speed/separation to pull away from Deshon Elliott for a deep shot touchdown catch (via Huntley).
- Sammy Watkins had a sickening double move that cut back to the LOS and shook Marlon Humphrey hard, as the crowd let out a resounding ‘oooooooh!’
- Less splashy note, but Mark Andrews was targeted heavily today. I’ve got Andrews down for eight receptions on 10 targets, with one drop and one PBU (Anthony Levine Sr).
Considering at the one hour mark I mumbled “what the heck will I have to write about today?” I’d say the offensive spectacle to follow surely did it’s best to help me out.
Despite the great showing by the playmakers today, there were undoubtedly a few other notable takeaways. Here’s the best of the rest.
- Ar’Darius Washington roped in a majestic interception during end zone drills, elevating to heights unbeknownst to 5’8″ men and snatching the ball in the face of James Proche. That pick, coupled with a few big PBUs today, is yet another stacked practice for Washington.
- Speaking of stacking practices, Chris Westry once again had a solid showing. The biggest play on the day for Westry was a one-on-one drill against Devin Gray, where Westry pinned Gray to the sidelines, turned back with the ball arriving, and got up to knock it away. Gray almost came down with the deflected ball, but Westry stuck on it and swatted it down. I’ll continue to say it: Westry is turning into something special in that secondary.
- I know, it was just shells today, but the Offensive Line was able to maintain the pocket fairly well, more often than not. Perhaps the return of Kevin Zeitler helped the starters more than we realized, but one particular rep during the scrimmage session had Lamar Jackson bouncing around the pocket for what felt like five seconds. Every lineman was engaged, the unit cohesive… it was a good sign.
- Speaking of OL, Trystan Colon again stacked a solid practice. His odds of starting this season are slim to none, but Ravens fans should feel great about his ability to be a backup Center, especially considering Bradley Bozeman is out for the second time in Training Camp thus far.
- On the injury front, the Ravens may have lost a few more bodies today (Bozeman, Trace McSorley both out, Watkins, Brandon Stephens left early but it sounds like nothing major) but seeing Hollywood Brown, Deon Cain and Miles Boykin all running on the side was surely promising… reinforcements on the way!
Player of the Day: Tylan Wallace
Wallace has been relatively quiet in camp thus far, but today was easily his best showing. Wallace caught every ball thrown his way, with the exception of a pass broken up by Anthony Averett that was just a little bit more contact than both Wallace and the coaches expected in shells (looked like AA even felt bad on that one, offering a hand to Wallace on the turf). Wallace showed off his route running, acceleration, soft hands, and ability to extend to reel in a catch. Solid showing today by the rookie out of Oklahoma State.