The Ravens began their first full practice of training camp on Thursday. There were many storylines about the offense entering the camp including the “battle” at quarterback, the starters at offensive line, Baltimore’s new additions at receiver and other topics.
The oft-discussed battle between Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson wasn’t really much of one. Flacco looked like his old self, completing multiple passes to different receivers. He put an extreme amount of spin on the ball and hit Chris Moore and Jaleel Scott in stride, on two separate occasions.
The 33-year old looks to be prepared to have a better season, after spending much of last season battling a back injury. He has made strides in becoming more in sync with his receiver, beginning a throwing camp a few days before camp at Northwest Regional Park in Owings Mills.
“I think every year [Joe Flacco] comes with the mindset that he’s going to be great, mainly because everyone doesn’t think he’s elite and inside the building everybody does think that way,” said linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Jackson was good in his first day of camp, but his passes weren’t as tight as Flacco’s were. He made a particularly strong throw to Tim White through coverage on one play. The young quarterback made strong throws outside of the numbers during drills as well. It is to be expected that Jackson will have some growing to do as a quarterback in the NFL.
There is something to be said for Jackson’s deep ball. He hit Jordan Lasley with a rocket pass in stride for a touchdown.
Off to a start.@Lj_era8 ➡@LegendaryLasley pic.twitter.com/vUFFgTBHOQ— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) July 19, 2018
His best quality may not be his speed — it is his arm strength. He was able to constantly make the hard throws that were necessary, but the consistency isn’t there yet. The key is that he continues to grow and make better throws on a regular basis and it seems that quarterbacks coach James Urban and others will assist him in making that possible.
There was also one more quarterback that caught the attention of reporters and other onlookers — Robert Griffin III. Griffin displayed the awareness, accuracy and arm strength that one would expect from an NFL starter. His passes were constantly on the money, specifically with Tim White and other reserve wideouts.
After bouncing from Washington Redskins, to the Cleveland Browns and now with Baltimore, he looks to make things interesting during camp. If he is impressive, some team may dangle a draft pick in Baltimore’s direction or Griffin could be a mentor to the mobile Jackson.
Entering Thursday’s practice, the Ravens had Ronnie Stanley starting at left tackle, Alex Lewis at left guard, Matt Skura at center, James Hurst at right guard and Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle. Many players played positions that were different than where they were at last season with Lewis, Skura and Hurst playing different roles.
Lewis has lined up at all five positions in NFL practices, being placed at center during mini-camp. It is expected that he will be moved back into place when all offensive linemen are back on the field. Skura has began as the center, but he may be extra depth for Baltimore’s offensive line when it’s all said and done. Hurst started on the opposite side of the line, being the starting right guard instead of the left guard. Brown Jr. was the starter at right tackle, which means that all is going according to plan for the Ravens 2018 third-round selection.
Marshal Yanda, who will be penned in as the starting right guard when healthy, was held out of practice (shoulder/ankle) and is currently on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). He had shoulder surgery after the season ended and there is currently no timetable for his return.
“We’re going to be cautions with [Marshal Yanda],” said head coach John Harbaugh.
New wide receiver signings Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead IV and John Brown played the role of the veteran pass-catchers and coached up each of the younger receivers. They also showed that they could still make an impact, with Crabtree making tough catches and jockeying for passes, Snead IV making sharp breaks in and out of his routes and Brown making use of his blazing speed.
Tight ends Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle also ran well-timed routes, linking up with Flacco during the receiving drills. The same could be said for the backs, who made catches from Jackson out of the backfield. Running back Alex Collins stood out the most, showing a great deal of burst after the catch.
As a whole, Baltimore’s offense made the most noise on the day. That is to be expected with a new defensive coordinator and cornerback Jimmy Smith being held out of the team scrimmage.