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Ravens News 5/26: Building Chemistry and more

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

Lamar Jackson Among Strong Turnout for Ravens OTAs - Clifton Brown

The veterans are in the building, and on the practice field.

Lamar Jackson is leading a large contingent of Ravens veterans participating in the third week of Organized Team Activities at the Under Armour Performance Center. Participation is voluntary for veterans, but Jackson hit the practice field Tuesday with many other teammates.

Among those in attendance is wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and linebackers Patrick Queen and L.J. Fort.

“He’s ready to go,” Harbaugh said. “I think Lamar, as much as anything, is thinking about doing what he can do so he can be the best that he can be, and then as a quarterback, work all these other guys into it from a chemistry standpoint. So, he’s excited. He can’t wait to get back, and I can’t wait to see him here.”

Interior Defender Rankings: The 32 best DIs entering the 2021 NFL season - Ben Linsey

10. CALAIS CAMPBELL, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Campbell missed some time with a calf injury in 2020 and wasn’t the same elite player when on the field that he was in Jacksonville, snapping a streak of four consecutive seasons with 90.0-plus PFF grades. But there is little reason to believe he won’t continue to look like one of the more well-rounded defensive linemen in the league next season for the Ravens at 35 years old.

Few have been able to match his contributions in the run game over the past five seasons. His 61 tackles for loss or no gain against the run over that span rank third among defensive linemen, behind only Brandon Graham and Jadeveon Clowney.

Takeaways From Film Session on Ravens Rookies - Ryan Mink

CB Brandon Stephens

Stephens has an alluring package of size, length, feet, instincts and awareness. Though he’s only been playing the position for two years after converting from running back, he sniffed out a screen extremely quickly and did well passing off defenders in coverage (once leading to an athletic interception).

Hortiz: “You watch his physicality, and then you just watch his natural athleticism and ball skills and ball production and strength. Yes, there is some work that’s going to need to be done because of limited time on the job, but the work that he has done and what he’s shown us is exciting. So, yes, there’s a risk/reward for every player, but he’s not a raw, fundamentally raw player; he just lacks the experience. And then just the temperament, the effort with which he plays, and the production he’s put out there on film, that kind of makes it exciting. We feel like there’s going to be a process of him developing, but a process of him developing into a good player.”

Ravens Offseason Primes Them for 2022 - Pete Smith

It’s interesting how much criticism the Ravens have received for the selection of Brandon Stephens, a former running back at UCLA that became a corner at SMU.

Stephens, at 6’ 213 pounds, ran a 4.43 40 and had excellent agility in his pro day testing. He offers good explosion as well. In his two seasons, he posted outstanding production, including this past season where he registered 7.7 percent of the team’s solo tackles and 28.5 percent of their pass deflections, which is elite production.

From a pure data standpoint, Stephens has the potential to be an All-Pro in the NFL. The only real knock against him is the fact he’s 23 years old.

The Ravens love defensive backs with his size and they could end up utilizing him at corner or safety. Basically, Stephens disappears for a year or two and if he can become a polished player, he can be a massive find.

Stephens could end up taking over for Jimmy Smith or perhaps give them a long term free safety. Nothing prevents them from continuing to invest at either of those positions in the mean time.

Where Does ‘Fearless’ Ar’Darius Washington Fit Into Ravens Plans? - Todd Karpovich

“Is he big enough to be a safety? I don’t know. Is he fast enough to be a corner? I don’t know. Is he a good football player? Yes. Is he instinctive? Yes. Does he make plays? Yes,” Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said. “Alright, well, he’s a good football player. Let’s get him here and see what he is. Frankly, that’s how we evaluated him as a draft pick – a potential draft pick – and he was a potential draft pick for us. We just didn’t draft him, [but] that doesn’t mean we didn’t have draftable grades on him. Our scouts really liked him. Everyone, to a man, talked about how tough he was.”

“Heck, I think it was the Texas game [when] he knocked himself out coming up on a tackle,” Hortiz said. “I think in two of the games I watched with him, he actually hurt himself, in two separate games, tackling. So, he’s fearless, unafraid. They use him as a safety, but they put him in some nickel-type roles. So, yes, we were excited to get him, as we were with a bunch of our free agents after the draft. [Assistant director of college & pro personnel] Mark Azevedo does an awesome job coordinating it and running it with the coaches, and we feel like we got some guys who are going to compete for roster spots or positions on the practice squad.

“Again, we feel really good about our team, and I think we mentioned how deep we are, so it’s going to be a tough ‘nut to crack,’ so to speak, but we feel like we got the right types of guys to come in and compete for it.”