On Saturday the Ravens had their first padded practice of training camp. After having a few days to acclimate themselves to practice and the weather, players donned pads for the first time, experiencing minor contact until the end of practice when the third-string players went full contact for 12 plays.
Here's some of the notable things that went down:
Most notably, cornerback Lardarius Webb sat out of today's practice with a lingering back issue. Others not participating were nose tackle Terrence Cody, guard Will Rackley and tackle Parker Graham
Ray Rice looks great, receives loud cheers from fans
With all eyes on him, Ray Rice is doing everything possible to return to his normal self and just play football. Now fully healthy, Rice isn't just 15 pounds leaner, he's explosive. Rice's feet looked so quick and he made a few great plays today.
The play of the day came from a screen pass to Rice from quarterback Joe Flacco and Rice took the pass for roughly a 50-yard gain with the help of a great block from LG Kelechi Osemele. K.O. swept to the outside and blasted safety Darian Stewart, knocking him to the ground.
Earlier in the practice, Rice turned on the burners, dancing in and out of players and took the ball to the house. Fans in attendance loudly cheered Rice, who is looking to win back the admiration from his fan base following his arrest for domestic violence this offseason.
Rice was in his typical form, dancing on the sidelines, joking with his teammates and even played catch on the sidelines with a teenage boy while other groups were rotating on the practice field.
I'm fascinated with Steve Smith
After writing out all of the great things Smith did today, I decided to make it a blog itself. Click HERE for the link.
Tyrod Struggles, but Harbaugh defends him by cracking some jokes.
Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor is clearly fighting for his job after head coach John Harbaugh expressed displeasure with Taylor's performance earlier in the offseason. In addition, the Ravens drafted Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning in the sixth round of this year's NFL draft.
My biggest knock on Taylor is that he does struggle in the pocket and often has passes knocked down, as he did today by DeAngelo Tyson. However, Taylor was also sacked four times, and coach John Harbaugh wasn't happy with his offensive line.
"Block somebody!" Harbaugh yelled towards the offensive sideline, complaining that Taylor hadn't been sacked. "That works a lot better than begging for s***."
Every once in a while, Harbaugh will leave you with a few great soundbites and this was certainly one of them. It seems Harbaugh's actions rallied the offensive line because during the next three plays, Taylor had time to pass and the offense easily marched down-field.
Terrell Suggs wont be taking Jacoby Jones' punt returning duties away from him
During the special teams portion of practice, punt/kick returners practice catching sky-high kicks while holding another football in their other hand. After he stretched, Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs figured he'd give it a try.
It didn't work out so well.
As expected, Suggs dropped the kick, which entertained all of the returners. WR/KR Jacoby Jones ended up about 15 yards from Suggs, laying sideways on the field belly laughing.
Stick to the sacks, Sizzle.
Carrying the load during Rice's suspension
Now that the Ravens know they'll be without Rice for the first two games of the season, it's up to the backup running backs to step up their game during training camp.
I didn't count the amount of snaps, but it appeared that Justin Forsett handled more of the workload than Bernard Pierce when Rice wasn't on the field. The Ravens will often rotate backs to split the workload depending on the day, but Forsett does have the fact that he's familiar with Kubiak's system on his side and he hasn't looked all that bad.
One thing is for sure, Rice is certainly an upgrade. He looks healthy, he's quick and he's ready for redemption.
A few good battles between Chykie Brown and Jacoby Jones
Jacoby Jones juked Chykie Brown out of his pants with a sweet double-move which lead to a 55-yard touchdown. While Jones continues to show good footwork and speed, Brown got a little redemption of his own later in practice.
After Jones caught a pass from Flacco, Brown out-muscled Jones for the ball and returned it for a decent gain.
It may be training camp, but ball security is still rule No. 1 when out on the field.
First impressions of C.J. Mosley
Sometimes the athleticism of these players will baffle you. That happened today with Ravens first-round pick C.J. Mosley.
Mosley has the perfect stature for a middle linebacker at 6-2, 235 pounds. Not only is his stature good, the guy can move. During one play, Flacco dropped back to hand the ball off to backup running back Bernard Pierce. Mosley easily beat the left tackle and was hot on Pierce's tail before he could even realize it. Pierce has some speed of his own, but Mosley wasn't letting him break free.
Personally, I wish the Ravens would have addressed other areas of need in the first round, but there's no denying why a team with such a rich history in defense was so excited to get Mosley when he was still left on the board.