NFL insider notes: Lamar Jackson’s positive COVID-19 test could prove costly, and more from Ravens camp - Jason La Canfora
Harbaugh and Jackson’s teammates took the news in stride – the Ravens endured a sweeping COVID outbreak last season which also caused Jackson to miss time – and are trying to find the positives from this situation. But the reality is, for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and one that largely shuffled its offensive line, including adding a new center after rampant snap issues in 2020, this is suboptimal. For any club in these times, let alone a team that continues seek ways to cultivate more explosion in the pass game, tweaking the scheme, vowing to have the QB under center more and overhauling the receiver group with Sammy Watkins in free agency and draft picks Rashod Bateman (first round) and Tylan Wallace (fourth round), the lost time to enhance chemistry and build timing through reps is hardly ideal.
Second-year receiver Devin Duvernay impresses me whenever I see him. Thought he was underutilized a year ago and even with the influx of receiver talent I can’t help but think he can carve out a role in the slot, where he was force for Texas.
With No. 2 tight end Nick Boyle not able to practice yet, lots of depth tight ends are getting a look see. Oliver looks the most athletic and handsy of the bunch; injuries crippled his growth in Jacksonville but he has appealing traits. Baltimore may transition out of so much 12 and 13 personnel given the influx of so many receivers, but Jackson suffered without a dependable second move tight end (along with Mark Andrews) after the trade of Hayden Hurst prior to last season.
With an expanded workout, McSorley had one of his best training camp practices in his three summers as a Raven. He kept the ball out of harm’s way throughout and was able to hit open receivers in intermediate areas while also connecting on a few deep shots. On his best sequence, he threw a perfect ball down the seam and right over linebacker Tyus Bowser’s shoulder to running back J.K. Dobbins, who turned it into a long gain and may have even scored if it was a game.
Huntley, who is battling McSorley for the backup quarterback job, also had his moments. His most notable throw was a deep touchdown to Brown, who easily beat cornerback Davontae Harris and opened up more than five yards of separation in the process. After scoring, Brown greeted several young fans in the back of the end zone.
It was a relatively quiet training camp debut for Bateman, who had a few receptions in team drills, but didn’t get the volume of opportunities that he was getting in the minicamps. He had one chance to make a play on a deep ball, and cornerback Chris Westry prevented the reception. It was a nice comeback for Westry, who had been flagged for an obvious pass interference a few plays earlier.
Ravens Training Camp Notebook Day One - Todd Karpovich
Center Bradley Bozeman had three errant snaps. It was surprising because Bozeman was flawless during the OTAs. He threw his glove in frustration after the last poor snap.
“We’re chasing perfection with that,” coach John Harbaugh said. “The timing of the snaps is really important. The way we run our offense, it helps a lot for the snap to be where it’s supposed to be.”
Both James Proche and Miles Boykin are perhaps competing for the last roster spot at wide receiver. Each player had an even day with a few nice receptions but also a couple of drops.
Eli Wolfe and Tony Poljan are trying to make the team as a third tight end. Both players had impressive days with some nifty receptions in traffic.
Ravens training camp observations on backup quarterbacks, new-look offensive line, Marquise Brown, J.K. Dobbins and more - Ryan McFadden
Hollywood leaves defenders in the dust
Brown welcomed fans back to training camp in style by showing off the speed the Ravens drafted him in the first round for in 2019. During 7-on-7 drills, he made a nice move on Dorsey before racing down the field for a deep catch. As Brown ran toward the end zone, he started waving back at Dorsey.
Later in practice, Brown again was caught waving at Dorsey after speeding past him to snatch the ball on a deep pass from McSorley.
J.K. Dobbins looks the part as Ravens’ top running back
Even though it’s the first day of camp, Dobbins looked ready to take over as the lead running back for the Ravens. The second-year player from Ohio State used his speed and agility to get past defenders for positive yardage. Dobbins showcased his receiving skills, too, by catching balls out of the backfield.
Catch of the day
Tight end Josh Oliver had one of the best catches of the morning, when he leaped to make an acrobatic grab over a defender in the middle of the field.
McSorley had a beautiful deep pass to Miles Boykin bounce off the wide receiver’s fingertips, but the former Penn State quarterback put it in the perfect spot.
Huntley also had a nice play when he scrambled to his right to find Devin Duvernay breaking back for a sideline completion. Huntley, who took over for Jackson in last year’s playoff loss in Buffalo, also had a precise toss to tight end Eli Wolf that Wolf plucked off the top of a defender’s head.
“I thought they performed very well. The ball went up top a lot today,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “I couldn’t even tell who was throwing the ball a lot of times. I was just looking up trying to find the ball and it being right in the spot it was supposed to be.”
Marcus Peters strapped up tight end Mark Andrews during an early route in 7-on-7s. It was impressive to see considering hardly anybody won those battles vs. Andrews in OTAs and minicamp.
New wide receiver Sammy Watkins displayed how he can do some of the dirty work to be a chain-moving presence. He’s big and physical and showed that with a couple tough box-out catches in traffic. He had a good first day.