Practice Report: Rookie TE Isaiah Likely Closes Minicamp With a Flourish; 10 Observations - Clifton Brown
Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely had nice finish to minicamp, catching several touchdown passes during goal-line drills. Two of his catches were with one hand, although one was ruled out of bounds. However, that didn’t detract from the athleticism it took to make the play. The 6-foot-4 Likely is showing a large catch radius that could make the fourth-round pick an effective target in tight quarters. Lamar Jackson is impressed and said they were “tremendous catches.”
Brandon Stephens had an excellent day in coverage playing outside corner. Early in practice, he would have possibly had an interception if he had turned his head toward the football sooner. Stephens was disgusted when the ball deflected off his helmet and bounced away, but it was still a pass breakup. A few reps later, Stephens stripped the ball away from Jaylon Moore as he tried to secure a catch in the end zone.
Offensive Line Coach Joe D’Alessandris spent ample time at the beginning of practice working on blocking drills and choreographing individual assignments. The Ravens could have a new starter at center, right tackle and left guard, so building chemistry quickly will be important.
“I view myself as an athlete,” Likely said on Glenn Clark Radio June 8. “Not only can I play tight end, but I can play in the slot, I can play out wide. I’m really just that chess piece that finds mismatches in the defense, finds holes, finds their weaknesses.”
Likely’s ability to play multiple positions, not just the traditional tight end spot, is what he believes made the Ravens interested in him during the draft. Head coach John Harbaugh has dismissed the notion that the team is looking to take the offense back to what made it so successful in 2019, when three-tight-end sets featuring Andrews, Boyle and Hayden Hurst were part of an efficient passing game.
But offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who engineered those offenses, is still in place, and through the opening weeks of rookie camp and voluntary workouts, Likely had already gotten a taste of how much Roman likes utilizing multiple tight ends at once.
“At practice now we run two tight ends, one-tight-end sets, three-tight-end sets, sometimes four,” he said. “That all goes into the aspect of everyone knowing their role.”
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Likely is more often labeled a pass-catching threat than a willing blocker. But in a run-heavy offense, he looks forward to dispelling that notion. Coaches have already gotten to work on Likely and fellow rookie tight end Charlie Kolar on the intricacies of blocking.
“That’s what we’ve been harping on here at OTAs with the rookies is just technique and understanding your assignment,” Likely said. “When we put the pads on, we can really see what I can do in the run game.”
Ravens Coach Dishes on Rookie Kyle Hamilton, Rest of Secondary - Todd Karpovich
“Notre Dame guy, [he] does have that pedigree,” Hewitt said about Hamilton. “He was raised by a good family and all of those things, and he’s done a phenomenal job. He’s extremely instinctive, has ‘go-go gadget’ arms, he’s six-foot-four, agile. He’s the total package. We’re very, very happy with him.”
On where there is room for Hamilton’s improvement:
“He’s learning a new system; he’s going to make mistakes. By the time we come around … I promise you, that when the first game comes, he’ll know what he’s supposed to be doing and he won’t be making mistakes that he made today. He’s not an error repeater, he’s on top of his job. [Safeties coach] D’Anton Lynn, who also coaches the safeties, is doing an awesome job with him. Also [defensive assistant] Matt Robinson who also works with us in the backend is doing a great job with that guy.”
On rookie cornerbacks Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams:
“Jalyn’s a great corner. He has the speed; he has everything that you want in a corner. He has the height, speed, change of direction, he has all of that great stuff. Now it’s all about experience and being able to do it on a consistent level. And ‘Pepe’, Damarion [Williams] … He might not be the fastest and he might not be the biggest, but I guarantee you [that] the kid has got the biggest heart and he’s a good football player. I always bet on good football players to go out there and do their job. That kid plays with great energy, and he’s going to make us better as a team. I really love the kid and I think he’s going to have a great future.”
Lamar Jackson says he’s discussed deal with Ravens, OTAs absence was not contract-related - Kevin Patra
On Thursday, the quarterback was asked if skipping OTAs was contract-related as he enters the fifth and final year of his rookie deal.
“No, no, not contract-related,” Jackson said, noting he wanted to “stay away” from offseason workouts after an injury-riddled 2021 season and “just grind.”
Jackson’s contract has been the subject of consternation in Baltimore this offseason as the quarterback, who represents himself, has been reluctant to respond to overtures from the Ravens brass.
The 25-year-old said he had contract talks this week with general manager Eric DeCosta.
“We actually did. We did. It’s a conversation,” he said. “That’s all. Just keeping it private.”
Asked Thursday if he wants to be in Baltimore the rest of his career, Jackson responded: “I expect so. Yes, I do.”
The former NFL MVP said he believes he’s earned a new contract.
“Yeah, I think so. I still want my Super Bowl, though, but I think I’m worthy for it,” he said. “Yes sir, I do.”
Most questionable offseason move by each AFC team: Deshaun Watson’s huge deal; Chiefs, Titans trade top WRs - Jared Dubin
It’s tough to actually ding the Ravens here because Jackson does not seem to want to negotiate, but hey, their starting quarterback is still not locked in long-term. That’s an issue, no matter the reason. Unless and until a deal gets done, this will be hanging over the organization.