Second-year wide receiver James Proche II had the play of the day with a diving touchdown catch during 11-on-11 drills. Tyler Huntley threw a dart down the middle that Proche fully extended for. Proche also later made a pretty spinning touchdown grab with a defender draped all over him. The competition for a sixth wide receiver spot is tight and Proche would be well-served to win the punt returner job to solidify his roster spot. But if he keeps making plays like that on offense, it would be hard to part ways with Proche regardless. After practice, John Harbaugh applauded Proche’s work ethic.
Second-year undrafted safety Nigel Warrior, who spent last year on the Ravens’ practice squad, had a couple strong pass breakups, including one where he ripped the ball out of the hands of tight end Josh Oliver. Warrior also broke up a short throw to Sammy Watkins. On the next play, however, Watkins went deep and Huntley dropped in another precise pass for a long gain.
Not to be outdone by Proche, rookie fifth-round wide receiver Tylan Wallace had a long leaping catch down the right sideline in which he extended to tip the ball, then caught it as he fell to the ground. The Ravens’ wide receiver depth was on full display.
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It was a strong morning for rookie edge rushers Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes, who were providing all sorts of problems for the Ravens’ tackles. Oweh gets off the line of scrimmage so quickly and on a 1-on-1, he blew past veteran Michael Schofield. Veteran tackle Andre Smith, getting a lot of playing time with Stanley sidelined, struggled against both Hayes and Oweh. Defensive players are instructed to not get too close to the quarterbacks in these practices. Oweh and Hayes peeled off on a few occasions from what otherwise would have been sacks.
Second-year defensive lineman Justin Madubuike shot through the line of scrimmage to blow up a running play early in practice. Madubuike touched down the ball carrier not long after he got the handoff.
Chris Westry is pretty far back on a deep cornerback depth chart, but he’s been impossible to miss over the first two practices. There’s been some bad and a lot of good and the reserve/future signing this offseason has mostly taken advantage of the opportunities he’s getting with Averett, Peters and Marshall all sidelined. On Thursday, the long-and-lean corner (6-foot-4, 197 pounds) stayed with Deon Cain and caught a Huntley deep pass. The referee ruled that Westry was out of bounds, so he settled for the pass breakup. About a half-hour later, he deflected away a pass intended for Moore.
Both McSorley and Huntley were flushed from the pocket more quickly than they would like, and the timing and rhythm often weren’t quite there. McSorley had one pass batted by defensive end Calais Campbell right back into McSorley’s hands.
Still, there were some offensive highlights in team and small-group drills.
During one 11-on-11 period, Huntley lofted a touchdown pass of about 60 yards to wide receiver Jaylon Moore, who caught the ball between cornerback Davontae Harris and safety Anthony Levine.
Justin Tucker was perfect on all his kicks during the field-goal portion of the practice, and fans in attendance might not have even noticed the significant change there. That’s a credit to new long snapper Nick Moore, who wears the No. 46 of his longtime predecessor, Morgan Cox. Moore, who was on the practice squad all last season, has looked smooth and has drawn little attention to himself, the ideal scenario for a long snapper.
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Tyler Huntley had the edge over McSorley as the main backup to Lamar Jackson entering training camp. McSorley is closing the game but Huntley has been impressive, especially with his deep throws.
Coach John Harbaugh appears initially comfortable going into the season with McSorley or Huntley as the backup: “I was pleased with them. It’s only going to bolster those two guys and make those guys stronger than they would have been otherwise, and it helps our team be better,” Harbaugh said.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Jimmy Smith had some intriguing battles. In one instance, Smith broke up a potential long completion to Watkins from McSorley.
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“When we’ve got ‘Tay’ out there, we can do so many different things, and we’ve got so many different elements,” Clark said. “A lot of guys can fill in different spots, and he just brings a different element to us, being out there. So, not having him last year kind of sucked, for real. But having him back out here in training camp — his personality, his character — we love having him back right now.”
Last season, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale spoke about using Smith in a hybrid role, lining up as safety in some packages and covering tight ends in others. Once Young went down, that plan evaporated. But with him back in the fold, it once against seems like a legitimate possibility.
Smith said Thursday he was sure Martindale would have such packages for him this season; the Ravens defense lined up in nickel (five defensive backs) and dime+ (six or more defensive backs) packages 78% of the time in 2020.
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“I can honestly say that everywhere I’ve been at, that team has success and wins games,” Watkins said.
“Experience and versatility. He’s a pro. He’s been there before,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Watkins. “He’s a fourth pick in the draft. He’s a talented guy. He loves ball. He has lot of insight for those guys.
“It’s not me. It’s really what Lamar brings to the table. Whatever Pat Mahomes and all those other (elite) quarterbacks do, he’s doing the same thing,” Watkins said. “It’s Lamar Jackson. He runs and throws and does whatever he wants as a quarterback, and you can’t run certain defenses on him. You can’t do certain things on Cover 2. You can’t run just zone. You’ve got to do some blitzing, you’ve got to do some awkward things, and then you’ve got myself, Marquise Brown, (Mark) Andrews, (Devin) Duvernay, so many guys that can make plays, and then (offensive coordinator Greg) Roman has the run game going. So, it’s going to be kind of the same situation like K.C., just different guys. It’s a lot of freedom.”