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Big Rookie Holds His Own in the Heat

Daniel Faalele at camp
original photo: Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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In extreme heat, the Baltimore Ravens put together one of their more focused and well-put-together practices. The coaching staff deserves credit for managing the practice in a way that allowed them to get their work done in the safest way possible.

In the back half of practice, there was a 10-minute cool-down period. John Harbaugh went over to the fans sitting in covered bleachers and answered some questions. He even took a couple of questions from kids, who lined up and waited their turn. It was a nice moment for fans, and well-deserved for coming to this scorcher of a practice. Now on to business.

The practice came at a cost. Vince Biegel, a very versatile and experienced linebacker, was lost for the season. He was carted off the field and it has been reported that he suffered a torn Achilles. This is the last thing you want to see during camp. Tyler Linderbaum went down during practice, but Harbaugh stated in his post-game press conference that the rookie was going to be fine.

Let’s talk about the OL

One of the players who had a great practice was Daniel Faalele. Other than a couple plays where I thought he played too bent over, this could have been the best he’s looked so far in his rookie training camp. I thought Faalele outperformed Morgan Moses in this practice. It was a practice without pads but there was some good battling going on in the trenches. Faalele did a good job of looping edge rushers out of the play. I keep going back to my pre-draft impression of Faalele as a complete project. Ready for the starting lineup or not, he looks much further along than I expected. It’s something I’ve noted in four practices that I’ve attended.

Moses didn’t look bad, but he did have some reps he may want back, including a false start during the offense vs. defense portion of practice. At times, he could have been quicker to kick-slide in pass protection. Odafe Oweh seems to have the upper hand against Moses. I focused heavily on the right side of the line, but there are other places to talk about.

This was the best look at Ben Cleveland I’ve gotten, and he looked okay. The fact that he took so long to pass his conditioning test wasn’t a good look. You would expect this to be a trying day for him and he didn’t look overly sluggish or horrible. There’s something positive to be said about that. Ja’Wuan James looked sharp over at left tackle. He’s a contingency plan at that spot with Ronnie Stanley not being available yet.

Plays of note

James Proche was the most impressive player on the field today. The former SMU receiver had two plays that have to be in the running for play of the day. Lamar Jackson (who looked very good) hit Proche for a deep bomb down the field, on which the WR made a very tough catch. On a later red zone touchdown, Proche caught the ball falling towards the front pylon of the end zone on a beautiful throw from Jackson.

Tylan Wallace nearly had an highlight-reel touchdown catch today. Jackson put the ball where Wallace had a chance for it, and he just couldn’t haul it in. Kyle Hamilton was the player with the coverage. On the play before that, running back Justice Hill was slightly overthrown for a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone.

Isaiah Likely was a star again in this practice. He scored a touchdown when they were practicing in the red zone. He’s a big target who’s going to be a matchup nightmare. It’s a continuation of a very good grouping of practices for the rookie. He is a tight end but he moves into his breaks like a wide receiver. He runs some routes better than a chunk of the receivers and he’s got a 6-4 235-pound build. It’s still very early but there is a reason there is so much hype for him.

The running backs continue to get work in the passing game. Hill has looked very good and Tyler Badie has impressed in his own right. Mike Davis, who happens to be the most experienced running back available to the Ravens right now, is probably the running back with the least momentum. That’s something to take note of.

Final notes

Jackson is doing a very good job placing the football where it needs to be for his receivers to make a play. He spread the ball around to a lot of guys, his deep ball looks like it has a bit more touch on it this year, and his accuracy is improving with a little extra zip. You get the sense that the former MVP quarterback is gearing up for the season and that’s exciting.

The team has good energy. This easily could have been the worst practice because the heat gave the team an excuse. The play wasn’t sloppy and the team seemed very focused. I call that a good sign moving forward.

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