The final media session for OTAs wrapped up today at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills Maryland. Under a bright and sunny day with a nice little wind swirling around the practice field, I got to watch the players and coaches continue to teach, learn, and play.
Arthur Brown and Matt Elam
Both Arthur Brown and Matt Elam were running with the first teams in 11-on-11 drills today. Some of that has to do with Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley being out in Brown's case, but he did make the most of the opportunity, being quick to the ball. For Elam, we've covered that he is looking slimmer, faster and is getting the praise of the coaches. Matt Elam was even used on blitzes and found his way in the backfield and would have had a vicious sack on one play if he was allowed to hit.
Maybe this is the season for both players to turn the corner?
The Ravens had some of their first few scuffles of practice today. The first one was offensive guard Robert Myers against a bunch of defenders after a running play The second one saw defensive end Lawrence Guy and offensive guard Kaleb Johnson pushing and shoving after the whistle before being broken up. We've seen head coach John Harbaugh wearing apparel saying "4 fights everyday", so the players are doing their best to make it happen.
In all seriousness, little shoving matches and fights happen as practices wear on. Players are tired of being pushed around and they need to vent a little bit on the field after the whistle. While you hope no one gets hurt as a coach, it shows the fire that you want to see out of your players in order to achieve greatness.
Flacco slays the sixes
Quarterback Joe Flacco absolutely killed it during this practice in the redzone. The Ravens focused a little bit on redzone offense and defense during the 11-on-11 drills and Flacco made the defense look silly, by throwing touchdown after touchdown. Tight end Crockett Gillmore caught two of Flacco's touchown passes as did Marlon Brown.
Schaub the complete opposite
Quarterback Matt Schaub was the complete opposite of Flacco all day long. Not displaying touch on passes that should have been dropped into the receivers' hands and not showing any accuracy to make serious throws. Schaub missed wide on a few deep passes that the receiver had a step on the defender and Schaub just missed the mark.
Worst for Matt Schaub was his two interceptions. The first was a tipped pass into the hands of cornerback Quinton Porter, who returned it for a touchdown. The pass was too far away from the receiver, who just got a finger tip on it enough to bat it to the defender. The second was one that you wouldn't want to see from a rookie, much less a 12 year veteran. The pass was over the middle and directly to linebacker Zach Orr. Seriously, it was like Schaub was looking to have Orr run the route type of bad.
After having a few mediocre to bad practices in front of media, the Ravens might have a dilemma on their hands with Schaub. While starter Joe Flacco hasn't misses a snap in his career, the Ravens were hoping that Schaub could step in if needed to win a few games in the event Flacco had to miss time. Right now, I'm seeing the Schaub that lost his job in Houston than the one that was a playoff caliber player.
Wide Receiver battle heats up
I'd hate to be offensive coordinator Marc Trestman right now when it comes to who starts at wide receiver and who even makes the team at that spot. While it isnt known how many players will make the team at the receiver position, someone good will be getting cut sadly.
Jeremy Butler, Kamar Aiken, Darren Waller and Marlon Brown all made good catches on the day. With each player showing their own technique and speciality, it might be a matter of matchups for coach Trestman to figure out.
Kamar Aiken steps up
The competition for wide receiver is hotter than ever and Kamar Aiken isn't making it easy on the coaching staff. He caught two big passes and shows the look of a possession receiver at times but made the catch of the day deep down the sideline over the defender. He took the ball to the ground with him, but it looked good.
Everyone catches punts
It felt like Oprah was out there handing out punts today. "You get a punt, you get a punt, yoooouuuuuu get a puuuuuuunt!" The Ravens have tried out a bunch of players to field kicks and punts, but today they had Asa Jackson and DeAndre Carter back there. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg talked that they wanted to try everyone out to see who should be the guy. In the past, we've seen Lardarius Webb and even Steve Smith back there catching punts. Rosburg even joked that they would give everyone not a lineman a shot back there.
Brooks making his way back
Safety Terrence Brooks found his way not only onto the field, but actually participated in team drills. He didn't play a lot, but on one play, he took an angle on running back Justin Forsett towards the sideline. Forsett was able to get a first down on the play, to which Brooks could be heard shouting "I ain't got that burst yet, but when I do, you're gone." If Brooks is indeed missing that little bit of burst on his top gear, he would have been able to knock Forsett out of bounds before the first down and would have made one hell of a play. It is exciting to think that Brooks might be back and looking good.
Breshad Perriman continues to shine
First round pick and wide receiver Breshad Perriman is an attraction on the field, as any first round pick should be. Perriman is as quick and big as his stat sheet says he is. In 11-on-11 drills, Perriman made a catch over the middle after beating cornerback Quinton Porter and no one was able to get a good angle on him after that, leading to him racing off for a touchdown.
Perriman has shown the ability to catch over the middle, in traffic, as well as stretch the field. Once pads go on and contact happens, it will be interesting to see if Perriman can continue his growth and be the same player. If he can, he could very well be the next big Baltimore star.