Today was full pads and contact day at the Baltimore Ravens Training Camp. Under blue skies that gave the players (and media) a break with lower temperatures, much less humidity and a little breeze the players knocked helmets hard for the first time in camp.
Starting with drills at various locations around the fields, groups held walk-thru's, one-on-one passing drills and Special Teams formations simultaneously. In some of the passing drills, QB Joe Flacco set up with his first team receivers, which included Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Ed Dickson and Ray Rice. Dennis Pitta or Brandon Jones came in on three-wide sets. Tandon Doss, James Hardy, Devon Drew, Anthony Allen formed the second team under QB Hunter Cantwell, with rookie QB Tyrod Taylor running the 3rd team with receivers Justin Harper, RB Damien Berry and some of the second teamers.
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron was calling out names and numbers of plays that would make anybody's head spin. There are obviously no dummies out here, as there is no way they could recall all the formations and assignments if they weren't in tuned with the team playbook.
On a one-on-one drill, the match-up we will see a lot in camp was between the two Smith rookies, Torrey and Jimmy. Jimmy marked Torrey closely on a sideline pattern, but the Maryland kid still hauled the pass in despite tight coverage. Rookie Chykie Brown picked off fellow rookie, QB Tyrod Taylor, prompting an observing Ed Reed to yell, "no one's beating Chykie today!" WR James Hardy jukes and beats Jimmy smith surprisingly easy. Meanwhile the "other" Terrapin wide receiver, LaQuan Williams makes a nice move resulting in a great catch.
In 11-on-11 drills, Ray Lewis is yapping at the offense after a play, but Flacco steps up after the play to yell at Ray, "you didn't make the tackle!" It's nice to see the two leaders of their side of the ball stepping up to take charge, even if it's just early in Training Camp.
In Red Zone Drills, Joe rifles a bullet to a cutting Torrey Smith, who makes a nice finger-tip catch of the rocket, prompting head coach John Harbaugh to yell, "That's a touchdown!"
Of all the hitting in the full-contact drills, the one player with the most solid hits is ILB Jason Phillips, who is playing with the first team in place of Ray on some rotations. Phillips stops two running backs on successive plays, knocking them backwards and flat.
Even thought he offense can move the ball, in short yardage situations, defense still rules in Baltimore, even in July.
More photos and interview notes to follow.