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Offense Wins Day 7

Lamar Jackson camp notes
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens
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The Ravens use a scoreboard to show which side of the ball is having the better day, the offense or the defense. For the last two practices, it was Mike Macdonald’s unit that had their way with Lamar & Co. Today, the scoreboard was heavily tilted in favor of Greg Roman’s guys.

I’m not sure how the point system works in this regular head-to-head camp showdown. On Monday the defense won 42-29. Today, the last time I looked at the scoreboard towards the end of practice, the offense held a 70-44 advantage. That would suggest a big win for the offense because on Monday, I thought that the defense clearly won. Today, I thought the offense won but relative to Monday’s margin, I didn’t see Lamar & Co. being quite so dominant. But like I said, I don’t know how these practices are scored.

Perhaps the scoring is weighted heavily towards big plays and if so, I can understand the margin of victory because there were a number of explosive plays from the offense. While lining up at their own 28, Lamar hit Rashod Bateman in stride on a deep crossing route from left to right. The ball was placed perfectly and in stride. Kyle Hamilton was caught a bit flat-footed as Bateman glided by the rookie safety and waltz to pay dirt. During the same sequence of plays, Lamar hit Mark Andrews down the middle of the field completely uncovered, probably a blown assignment. Andrews could have galloped the distance for another score from 72 yards out.

Rookie TE Isaiah Likely got in on the long distance connections hauling in a pass from 40+ yards out, again delivered by Lamar with Hamilton in tight coverage. No less than three times today, Likely and Hamilton went head-to-head in a hotly contested way. During one-on-one drills the two matched up and with Hamilton practically draped over the tight end, Likely still managed to secure the ball to complete the catch. He has been very sure-handed. Then late in the practice, Hamilton had a nice PD to break up a long pass. The safety was slow to get up and we later learned that Kyle had cramped up on the play. It was a hot one out there.

Kyle Hamilton
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown weighed in with a couple of explosive plays as well. Huntley’s best pass of the day took place when the offense had the ball down inside the 10. Huntley delivered a nice looking back-shoulder throw to Binjimen Victor who was covered closely by Kevon Seymour. The play netted 30+ yards. Later Brown hit James Proche on a post corner. Proche slipped past the defender and up the sideline for the score. The play went for roughly 60 yards.

But back to Lamar, Bateman and Andrews…

The burgeoning rapport between Lamar and Bateman is impressive. The pair connected on two other scores. One on a designed rollout to the right where Lamar spotted Bateman working his way from left to right across the back of the end zone. Lamar flicked it to Bateman with casual confidence, hitting him in stride. From around mid-field, given plenty of time, Bateman was able to work his way from the far right to the numbers on the left where he hauled in a pass for roughly a 25-yard gain. Later in practice from inside the 15, Lamar tossed it towards Bateman’s back shoulder (sensing a theme?), beyond Kyle Fuller and away from the late arriving Chuck Clark for a TD.

Andrews caught a pair of TD’s during red zone drills. One on a slant – a dart thrown by Lamar, and then another on a screen. Later in full-team scrimmaging, Lamar faked a throw to his left, faked a draw to Justice Hill and then lofted a teardrop to the right beyond the linebacker and in front of the corner to Andrews for about an 18-20 yard pickup.

Lamar during one rep looked downfield long enough to allow Hill to flare outside the numbers to the left and then quickly got the ball out of his hands hitting Hill in stride. Lamar’s eyes allowed Hill to get soft, single coverage and the play could have gone a long way in a live game with a missed tackle. The would be tackler on this play was rookie CB Damarion Williams who had a productive afternoon.

Jackson seems to really be dialing into the finer nuances of his position with pump fakes, sharp ball skills and head movements. He’s also hastened his release in addition to an improved spin on the ball. The drop in skill set from Lamar to Huntley is dramatic. And unfortunately the drop off from Huntley to either of the other backups (Brown and Brett Hundley) is a big one as well. Neither Brown nor Hundley will make the team. Quarterbacks of that ilk will almost always be available as street free agents.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

Offense

The offensive front provided good protection for the most part, allowing quarterbacks to advance through their progressions. That’s something that no one could say at this time last year. There were a few sacks, but considering that there are so many pass plays run and defenders don’t have to respect running plays, that’s not too shabby…I can’t recall a single snap that any of the quarterbacks had to reach for. That’s a good collective day for Tyler Linderbaum, Patrick Mekari and Trystan Colon. There was one play however, during which Lamar got frustrated with Linderbaum. The Ravens QB checked out of a play given something presented by the defense. But with the music blaring, the play clock ticking down and Lamar clapping his hands violently to encourage a snap, Linderbaum never did snap it on time and when he did, Lamar caught it and punted it with his left foot out of frustration.

That being said, Linderbaum held his own for the most part, save for one play when Travis Jones got leverage and tossed his fellow rookie to the side like a rag doll on his way to a sack. Mekari looks stout and may have added some muscle mass…Proche has been featured in a number of ways across the offensive formation. With Devin Duvernay out, nursing a thigh contusion, Proche picked up some added reps and today he was the second most productive WR…Tylan Wallace just seems to disappear and hasn’t really made the kind of impact we hoped to see – at least so far…Shemar Bridges looks like WR No. 5 for the moment. Not only does he complement the Big 4 WR’s given his impressive size, he also possesses a smooth gait. His suddenness and change of direction skills for a man his size are also quite eye-catching. With the collection of pass catchers the Ravens have in camp, I only expect them to keep five receivers. The progress and versatility of Likely gives the team that luxury.

In the backfield, it’s really hard to tell who has an edge because there’s no live tackling and therefore it’s difficult to determine which has the lead so far. The naked eye suggests the best RB on the field has been Tyler Badie, although he did have a drop today on a swing pass to the left flat. But his vision, feet and running instincts look vastly better than the other taking reps today not named Justice Hill, which included Mike Davis, Corey Clement and Nate McCrary. Hill has been solid but it will be interesting to see how often he’s featured as a runner. Most of the reps that I’ve observed, he’s been used as a receiver or to pick up blitzers in pass pro. Don’t look for a leader to emerge until these players get on the field during the preseason.

Defense

On Tuesday D-Line Coach Anthony Weaver talked about creating pressure to make quarterbacks uncomfortable:

“We want to lead the league in quarterback harassment. Whether that’s pressures, hits, hurries, we want to make sure we’re doing whatever we can to harass that guy in order to help those guys behind us.”

A few across the defensive front did that at times today. Sometimes the pressure did result in a sack, other times, it forced the QB’s out of their comfort zone…Brent Urban made a nice inside move to get past Kevin Zeitler who is regularly the winner in pass pro. Not this time. Urban seemed pleased with his afternoon and was seen playing air guitar to the blaring “Crazy Train” by Ozzie Osbourne…Isaiah Mack created some interior pressure while Broderick Washington did the same, sacking Huntley. Travis Jones is big and moves well. As mentioned, he had a sack…Vince Biegel just keeps coming and plays to the whistle – sometimes through it, to the dismay of some teammates. He brings a lot of energy to the defensive side…Steven Means had a couple of pressures courtesy of an impressive bull rush…Odafe Oweh is relentless and while I don’t recall a sack, he disrupted a few plays chasing Lamar from the pocket…Daelin Hayes was quiet.

The secondary had an uneven day. Marlon Humphrey covered well as did Marcus Williams who broke up a pass in the end zone, sprinting from the area aligned with the right hash mark to the right sideline to prevent a TD toss to Wallace…Hamilton made a similar play in the end zone to break up a pass after covering some ground…Damarion Williams had a couple of PD’s and he added an interception, picking off a deep and ill-advised pass from Lamar to Makai Polk…Kyle Fuller made a nice play reading a screen to Pat Ricard, quickly diagnosing and closing on the fullback. That said, it’s anyone’s guess how that collision would have gone down. Fuller hasn’t looked all that great so far this camp.

Ravens FB Pat Ricard
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

NOTABLES AND QUOTABLES

A fan in the crowd, upon seeing Justin Tucker on the sideline during scrimmaging, shouted out, “Hey Justin, sing us a song!” It got Tucker’s attention as he turned and smiled. Someone else shouted, “C’mon Tuck, do it! We’ll get you some RoFo Chicken!”…Word around camp is that J.K. Dobbins and Marcus Peters are doing very well with their respective recoveries and could be ready to go soon. Expect the Ravens to exercise extreme caution with each. Peters was on the sideline kidding around with the team’s new special teams coach, Sam Koch. Koch stood beside Tucker and the Ravens new punter, Jordan Stout. The difference in size between the two is marked. Stout is listed as 6’3” while Tucker is listed at 6’1”. Stout looks bigger than advertised. Some of the reporters I talked to about Stout said that he’s been crushing the ball high and far with impressive accuracy when targeting inside the 10-yard line.


“I like what I see. Just one of those guys that can do it all. I would describe him as one of those guys that just has the speed, quickness, size, a little bit of everything. He’s a hard worker. I like that about him. [He] wants to get better, wants to compete. So, guys like that, they’ll be pretty good, and I think he’ll be pretty good.” ~ Kyle Fuller on his observations of Rashod Bateman


Q&A

Earlier today I asked Ravens fans on Twitter what players they’d like to hear more about. Some of the questions have been covered in this camp report. A few of the questions posed have not, so I’ll do my best with the rest below.

Ben Cleveland

As you know Cleveland was late to the party missing four practices due to his four failed conditioning tests. I don’t think he’s as fit as he was as a rookie. He’s thicker in the waist and while that’s nothing to get too alarmed about with offensive linemen, the knock on Cleveland is that he’s a bit stiff. I doubt that a burgeoning waistline makes a player more fluid. Ben has work to do and while it’s early, let’s just label him a disappointment thus far.

Ben Cleveland, Ravens
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

Inside Linebackers

Just as it is difficult to assess running backs during camp, it’s equally difficult to assess the inside backers, some of which will be taken off the field in passing situations, and passing plays represent about 90% (or more) of the plays run in camp. I wish I could say that Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison are stepping it up in their third seasons, but at this point I just can’t. None of the inside backers are very noticeable during these practices. We’ll all get a better feel a week from tomorrow when the Ravens host the Titans.

Jeremiah Moon

Moon has some potential. He seems to be a very good athlete and has a bit of a burst off the edge. He has decent body bend but I don’t think he has much in the way of a pass rush arsenal. He’s no more than a practice squad candidate.

Slade Bolden

Bolden looks decent in his one-on-one matchups but during scrimmaging he’s failed to make much of an impact.

Offensive Tackles

Morgan Moses and Ja’Wuan James have held up well, Moses probably more so than James but that could be due to rust. James has been dormant for quite some time, having only played in 3 games since 2019. He looks to be in good shape but if the Ravens start the season with him at left tackle, it could be problematic. He will be a focal point of mine during the preseason.

Jalyn Armour-Davis/Kyle Fuller

JAD has had a pretty solid camp. He’s broken up some passes and he’s competing well. He has the build and skill set of a prototypical modern day corner. He’s also a high character guy willing to put in the work. I think his floor is an Anthony Averett type of player but his ceiling is higher…As for Fuller, the buzz about him around camp isn’t good. The Ravens gave him a $1.38M signing bonus so I think he’s here to stay, at least for 2022. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, since he is learning a new defensive scheme – his third in 3 seasons.

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