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Ravens News 8/20: Proche flashes and more

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Eat, hop, eat: How Hollywood Brown bulked up 23 pounds in two months - Jamison Hensley

Hop to it

Brown believed the best way for him to ascend in the league was to get back to his roots — or hills, in this instance.

From the age of 10 to 15, Brown and one of his cousins would tackle the hills at Vista View Park in Davie, Florida. They would run straight up them. They would run routes while climbing them. They would even alternate hopping on one leg to get to the top.

“That made the player who I am today,” Brown said. “That was something I should get back to. A lot of time you get to college and the NFL, you get away from things you did when you were younger. Doing the hills brought back a lot of memories for me.”

Brown’s first meeting with Harper was at a reservoir in suburban Baltimore known for its steep hills. Brown went up one 60-degree incline to reach the parking lot. But he wasn’t done. Staring at him was another hill with a 75-degree incline.

It’s challenging for most to get up those hills by running. Brown accomplished this one hop at a time. This plyometric conditioning strengthens calf muscles and leads to single-leg power.

“You’re going to see him be able to be way more explosive in and out of cuts,” Harper said. “When he gets the ball and he gets an inch or a foot, good luck. I’d love to see him race Tyreek Hill and anybody else who wants to challenge him.”

Baltimore Ravens practice recap, Day 3: Rookie shows fire, vet ends session with a bang - Aaron Kasinitz

Second-round running J.K. Dobbins was one of the loudest players throughout the practice. He exchanged words with safety DeShon Elliott at one point and barked at Nigel Warrior another time, showcasing a fiery side early in his first training camp.

Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser earned compliments from coaches when he came off the edge in a pass-rushing situation and knocked Boyle back, causing him to bump into Jackson and knock the quarterback down.

Rookie offensive linemen bested their defensive counterparts in one-on-one drills. Tyre Phillips stonewalled Justin Madubuike on one snap and then Ben Bredeson held his block against Broderick Washington.

Practice Report 8/19: Leaner Jimmy Smith Shows His Speed on Big Hit - Clifton Brown

Smith made the defensive play of the day Wednesday when he drilled tight end Nick Boyle just short of the goal line in a “live” drill near the end of practice.

Boyle caught the pass at the 1-yard line and looked ready to cruise into the end zone, but Smith was coming fast, scraping across the line of scrimmage. His hit set off a raucous defensive celebration and punctuated a good day for the unit overall.

“Hats off to Jimmy, he had a good play,” Boyle said. “I let my guard down a little bit when I caught that, I thought I was wide open. I have to have a better sense of urgency there – pluck it, tuck it and get in the end zone. I guess he was hauling.”

It surprised Boyle that Smith closed so fast, but that could be the new normal for the veteran cornerback. Head Coach John Harbaugh revealed after practice that Smith dropped 10-12 pounds this offseason while keeping his muscle.

Training camp notebook: Jimmy Smith delivers a big hit, some smack talk - Todd Karpovich

Proche Flashes

Much of the talk around Ravens rookie James Proche has been with his ability to play special teams.

Proche, a sixth-round pick from SMU, has shown solid hands throughout training camp and could be part of the rotation at wide receiver.

On the third day of practice, Proche made a diving catch around a couple of defenders on a wet field. Proche also had an over-the-shoulder reception during one-on-one drills against Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas.


1. Limited Regression For Jackson

It’s sort of obvious, but the Ravens getting over the top this upcoming season will once again rest on the shoulders of Jackson. Just like it’s hard to predict a team winning 14 games for a second straight season, it’s hard to envision Jackson being as good as he was last year. But the Ravens, who have one of the strongest rosters in the league around him, don’t need Jackson to be that spectacular to reach their goal. They do, though, still need him to be one of the best offensive players in the league.

Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman stripped Baltimore’s old offense down to the studs prior to 2019 once the move was made to go full steam ahead with Jackson as their starting quarterback. As a player who you always have to account for on the ground in the rushing game, Roman’s ability to keep Jackson comfortable and make the most of Jackson’s rocket arm kept defenses guessing all season.

That element of imposed hesitation must still exist for the Ravens to beat the best. Jackson may not have as many touchdowns as he did the year before, but his efficiency needs to stay high.