I’m not surprised to see Hundley depart – he looked far too indecisive for a veteran QB against the Titans – while Harris’ injury is a tough hit for a team in need of outside linebacker depth. He looked good in special teams work over the weekend, and I would have at least liked to see more from him.
A few other injury updates: J.K. Dobbins and Marcus Peters were both limited participants in drills but did not take part in 11-on-11s. It was especially nice to see Dobbins taking handoffs and catching passes from Lamar Jackson, even though the reps were still far from full speed.
Ar’Darius Washington seemed to be a full participant, which is especially important for the second-year safety considering the Ravens’ depth at the position. Geno Stone and Tony Jefferson have both shined in Washington’s early absence, and Baltimore just doesn’t have room for six safeties.
Daniel Faalele had to leave practice, but looked unbothered while doing so. We’ll get an update from John Harbaugh this afternoon.
Getting into the action at practice, I’m not kidding when I say special teams, and specifically punting, was my personal highlight.
Jordan Stout is living up to his billing as a fifth-round pick, absolutely booming punts what must have been 70 yards downfield, and with accuracy, too. Much was made of the Ravens taking a punter over a wide receiver who was on their list, but Stout certainly isn’t underperforming his draft slot.
I’m also watching special teams like a hawk in an effort to identify the WR5 on this team. Shemar Bridges is a hard worker and sturdy blocker on the kick return team, but I see Jaylon Moore standing out on punt coverage.
In terms of pass-catching, Moore continues to be a reliable threat with a diversifying route tree. Bridges had a drop, but is getting good at finding soft spots of zone coverage and making himself a big target.
Devin Duvernay had one of his best days of camp, reeling in multiple deep balls including a 70-yard beauty from Jackson. I think Duvernay could be the speedy deep threat that Hollywood Brown primarily was in Baltimore.
Rashod Bateman’s drops got a lot of attention, but I’m not especially worried for two reasons. First, the best receivers consistently lead the league in drops every year, because they get open so often. That’s not a bad problem to have, especially when Bateman’s hands have been pretty reliable otherwise. He’s constantly working to improve his technique, oftentimes catching rugby balls from Keith Williams, and that work ethic is the second reason I’m not worried.
The rushing game seemed to be working better between the tackles than outside, and I’m so confident in Justice Hill and Mike Davis to succeed in this scheme that I think Gus Edwards should start the season on IR to ensure he’s 100% before returning.
The defense clearly carried the day, though, shutting down the offense in red zone and goal line drills. Chuck Clark was blanketing Mark Andrews at times as part of a quietly excellent camp. Even though Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton are the future of the position in Baltimore, I think the Ravens were wise to keep Clark, especially without a clear ILB2.
Williams also flashed his closing speed on a PBU today, and Kevon Seymour had a few nice reps. Overall, the secondary looks deep and ready to execute all kinds of coverage schemes to slow down the AFC’s dangerous passing offenses this year.
That will be especially important early in the season when Baltimore will not have the strongest pass rush. Make no mistake – Odafe Oweh is absolutely dominant and Justin Houston still has plenty in the tank – but there’s just no depth. I like the defensive line’s potential to generate pressure, but that’s a lot easier said than done. There’s a reason guys like Aaron Donald are so rare: beating interior offensive linemen in tight spaces is hard!
The one strategic saving grace is that Mike Macdonald will be able to change up his defense in the second half of the season – and, hopefully, the playoffs – once he has his pass rush at full strength. If he’s able to throw different looks at the Bengals and Bills earlier in the season than he does in January, it might give the Ravens that little edge they need.