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Ravens News 6/16: Minicamp Standouts and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens Minicamp Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

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It was an uneven practice for Lamar Jackson although he did get better as the morning went on. On his first two attempts of the 7-on-7 period, Jackson overthrew tight end Josh Oliver on a ball that safety Chuck Clark should have probably intercepted and sailed a pass too high for Sammy Watkins. He then got on track, connecting with rookie first-rounder Rashod Bateman on consecutive slants and dropping a ball in traffic to James Proche. As usual, Jackson had his most success targeting tight end Mark Andrews.

It was another strong day for Bateman who probably caught more passes than any other Raven. Bateman did have one drop and walked away from the play shaking his hand. Otherwise, he made a bunch of plays in the middle of the field and also was a popular target in the red zone.

[Khalil] Dorsey, an undrafted free agent who saw action in six games as a rookie mostly on special teams, probably had his best day to date on Tuesday, making at least three pass breakups. After one play, Peters sought out Dorsey for his sound coverage, which forced a Jackson dump off.

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The Ravens’ secondary won the day with multiple interceptions and several near-picks. Anthony Averett and Peters picked off Lamar Jackson during 11-on-11 work. To be fair, one came when Rashod Bateman slipped and Jackson felt there was interference on the second. Averett nearly got a second one later in practice. Rookie defensive back Brandon Stephens intercepted Trace McSorley on a sailed pass over the middle and cornerback Chris Westry came down with a deep shot by Tyler Huntley.

Veteran Sammy Watkins had the play of the day when he hauled in a corner fade in the end zone with his fingertips and toe-tapped for the score. Making it even more impressive is that it came against Humphrey, who was all over him in coverage. With 33 career touchdowns, the veteran definitely has some red-zone savvy.

Watkins also caught a bomb from Jackson for what would have been a long touchdown, but Jackson’s throw was the more impressive part of the play. He flicked it while stepping up in the pocket and still put it right on the money.

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Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell joined team activities for the first time this offseason. The veteran defensive linemen, though, did not arrive as if they had slacked off since January.

“(They’re) highly motivated guys. You can tell they’re in shape and ready to go — high spirits — and I was really happy to see them today,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said.

“We know what we have as far as talent and as far as scheme. We know that we could be really, really good, quite special really,” Campbell said.

“When you step on the field, you have to lead them. And you have to lead them to, first of all, being the best they can be, the best in their field, and then helping the team, at the end, to win games,” Williams said.

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Harbaugh told reporters the team is finalizing the details of a joint practice with another team during training camp. “I don’t want to be premature in terms of announcing anything, but we’re in discussions,” he said.

Williams isn’t focused on a contract extension as he enters the final year of his deal. “All I’m worried about is year nine,” Williams said. “We will cross that bridge when we get there, but right now we got a bad taste to get out of our mouths.”

Harbaugh expects a heated competition among the team’s cornerbacks, which features a good mix of young players and veterans. “I’m looking forward to the competition in training camp,” he said. “It’s a very talented group and I can’t wait to watch it play out.”

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A year removed from his MVP season, Jackson is a fantastic example of how quarterback development isn’t always just a neat curve in the right direction. Jackson was still good in 2020, and he actually recorded a higher big-time throw rate than he did throughout his MVP campaign, but his touchdown percentage went from 7.7% to 5.7% while his turnover-worthy play rate doubled to 3.6%. Jackson is still a dynamic playmaker who likely splits the difference between those two seasons in 2021.

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8. Lamar Jackson (Ravens)

There are legitimate critiques to be made about Jackson’s deep-ball and big-game passing (he’s 1-3 in the playoffs, completing just 56 percent of his throws). But God bless you if you’re discounting his “franchise QB” label entering his age-24 season. You do not compile 68 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and a 102.6 passer rating through 37 starts — and go 30-7 in them — by accident. Is he one-dimensional considering how often he uses his legs, and how much the Ravens depend on them? Obviously more than most QBs, but he’s still got a rocket of an arm, and that “one dimension” makes him one of the most indefensible play-makers in space. Jackson may not be the best quarterback in the NFL, but he remains arguably its best talent, and that always gives you a chance.