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Ravens News 6/17: Deep Ball Emphasis and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens Minicamp Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Practice Report: 10 Observations From Day 2 at Minicamp - Ryan Mink

Lamar Jackson had perhaps his best practice of the summer, especially early on. On the first play of 11-on-11 drills, Jackson dropped a gorgeous deep pass over Sammy Watkins’ outside shoulder for a touchdown. Watkins and Marlon Humphrey were running shoulder-to-shoulder, but Watkins burst ahead at the last second to get enough separation and haul it in with his fingertips. Tough to say whether the throw or catch were prettier, but they were both as good as it gets. According to The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer’s tabulations, Jackson was 21-for-27 in 11-on-11 action. Jackson did have one interception when a deep pass for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown fluttered on him and was picked off by Humphrey.

It was an active day for Josh Oliver, 6-foot-5 tight end and former third-round pick the Ravens got in a trade with Jacksonville in March. Oliver hauled in a lot of passes but did have one bounce off his mitts. The battle for the third tight end spot remains one of the best heading into training camp.

The first- and second-year cornerbacks shined on Tuesday. On Wednesday, veteran (he’s only 26 years old) cornerback Davontae Harris made an excellent breakup on a deep pass for Tylan Wallace. Wallace excels at making contested catches, but Harris closed on it quickly and was strong to the ball. Harris was re-signed in early February and can be a key part of the Ravens’ cornerback depth.

Ravens minicamp observations: Lamar Jackson finds his rhythm at good time, rapport with Sammy Watkins growing - Jeff Zrebiec

Watkins, by the way, had his best practice yet. He caught another deep ball touchdown from Jackson and he made a few contested catches in the intermediate areas as well. The question about Watkins remains whether he’ll be able to stay healthy. However, the Ravens have to be pleased with what they’ve seen so far. Watkins and Jackson have hooked up often and Watkins has made an impression with how hard he’s practiced.

Second-year inside linebacker Patrick Queen has focused on his pass coverage and he made a nice play Wednesday to step in front of Oliver and knock away a pass. Queen was an eyelash away from another pass breakup later in practice.

It’s been a relatively quiet offseason for fifth-round cornerback Shaun Wade, but he may have had his best practice Wednesday. He ran stride-for-stride down the sideline with Devin Gray on an incompletion and later batted another ball away. Wade couldn’t stay with Brown in a red zone drill, but the rest of the Ravens cornerbacks struggle with that task as well.

Lamar Jackson, Ravens placing ‘a big emphasis’ on improving deep ball in 2021 - Jelani Scott

“We’ve been working, not just me, all the QBs and receivers, we’ve been getting together and trying to make that a big emphasis for us this year,” he said. “People always saying we throw short, intermediate routes and stuff like that, little 5-yard, 10-yard routes. We had some chances last year, we hit some of ‘em but we’re just trying to be more consistent this year. That’s where the strides happen, it starts in practice and hopefully it transitions to the game. Just gotta keep working on it.”

Having already locked the “franchise QB” label down, Jackson echoed Harbaugh’s sentiments, making it clear that he’s not going to let the money get in the way of his preparation.

“You know, I ain’t gonna lie to you, I’m not really focused on that right now,” he said of his contract situation. “I’m focused on getting me a Super Bowl, focused on getting better, focused on working with my teammates right now. Whatever was put out there, that’s what it is, you know? Like I said before, I’m focused on winning right now, trying to bring me a Super Bowl here.”

News & Notes: Lamar Jackson and Sammy Watkins Bonding Quickly - Clifton Brown

Bradley Bozeman Knows His Snapping Will Be Scrutinized

Snapping the ball to Jackson accurately was an issue at times last season, including during a playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, when Jackson suffered a concussion while being tackled recovering an errant snap.

Bradley Bozeman’s switch from left guard to center will put his snaps to Jackson in the spotlight. Not all of Bozeman’s snaps were perfect Wednesday, and Harbaugh smiled when the subject came up.

“I’m always on him. We got a thing around here about snaps, don’t we all, from last year?” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to be looking at those snaps. If he’s just a little low, a little high, it’s like ‘Boze!’ He’s all over it. He’s done great. It looks very natural.”

Bozeman embraces the challenge of snapping to Jackson in the pistol formation, and a good portion of Bozeman’s offseason time has been spent practicing his snaps”

“A ton,” Bozeman said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve always stayed after and snapped. We’ve always stayed up on our snaps, just made sure everyone was ready for that opportunity when it became available.”

Defensive scheme analysis for all 32 NFL teams - Seth Galina

BALTIMORE RAVENS

2020 Defensive Pass Efficiency Rank: 5

2020 Defensive Rush Efficiency Rank: 8

2020 Base Coverage: Cover 1

2020 Third-Down Mentality: Blitz and play cover 1

At this point, we know who the Ravens are under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale: They are going to blitz every chance they get and play man coverage on the back end.

The Ravens are exceptional at finding weaknesses in protection and getting free rushers while they play tight man coverage behind it. Last season, only one team played more man-coverage snaps where at least one receiver was pressed (231 snaps). And although they only ranked 16th league-wide in EPA allowed per play when they did that in 2020, they were second in the same metric during the 2019 regular season.

Over the past two seasons, Baltimore has created unblocked pressure on 177 snaps, 37 more than the next best squad over that span.