Ravens training camp observations on Lamar Jackson’s deep ball, ‘baby Mark’ Isaiah Likely, Ben Cleveland’s absence and more - Matt Cohen
Matched up against defensive back Brandon Stephens, rookie tight end Isaiah Likely blew past him down the right sideline to get open. Jackson easily lofted the deep pass into Likely’s hands for a 55-yard touchdown — a highlight play of Thursday’s practice.
“To see him come in and make those throws is a positive thing for us,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We definitely want to throw the ball downfield, I hope that’s a big part of our offense. It just boils down to how good we are at it. If we get good at it, we’ll be throwing the ball downfield a lot.”
Jackson finished practice 6-for-9 in 11-on-11 drills and 5-for-7 in 7-on-7. Two of the incompletions in 11-on-11 drills were balls thrown away. His best throw of practice was a back shoulder pass to second-year wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who made an impressive leaping catch while turning around midair.
Wide receiver Devon Williams returned from the nonfootball injury list to practice Thursday and was one of the many Ravens targets to drop a pass.
Tight end Nick Boyle, fullbacks Ben Mason and Patrick Ricard, running back Nate McCrary and wide receiver Devin Duvernay also dropped passes. On one play, Duvernay nearly collided with Bateman coming across the middle.
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Third-year linebacker Malik Harrison, who is trying to earn more playing time, showed up quickly on a blitz up the middle. Harrison had nine sacks during his career at Ohio State, and if he continues to generate pressure on quarterbacks, it will only help his case.
During the final 11-on-11 session, Calais Campbell (6-foot-8), Brent Urban (6-foot-7) and Odafe Oweh rushed the quarterback simultaneously on several plays and made it difficult for Jackson to find throwing lanes over the middle. The Ravens’ front seven does not lack players with wide wingspans.
Veteran nose tackle Michael Pierce had second solid day of practice after not participating in mandatory minicamp in June. Pierce is expected to be counted on as run-stopped in the defensive line rotation.
Jefferson made a quick break on a pass attempt during 7-on-7 drills, and while Jefferson didn’t stop the completion, he had another day when he was buzzing around the secondary. With Jefferson, Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, Kyle Hamilton and Geno Stone all getting reps, the Ravens have safety depth to envy.
“We’ve got the right bricks, now let’s build one hell of a wall,” veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler said.
“I know we had a lot of turnover on the line this year. I think that’s a good thing. We have great vets, we have great young guys coming in, we have talented middle-aged players, and this is good stuff. We’re all in the right spot and now it’s up to us to put it all together and get it going.”
“The team is only going to [go as far as] the quarterback, so with him being out here, doing his thing, getting better, working every day, it’s amazing for us and I can’t wait for him to have his best year ever,” Zeitler said.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said during minicamp that Stanley’s ankle is “looking great” and on the first day of training camp, Harbaugh said Stanley’s body composition is “close to where he’s been in the past when he’s been at his best.”
“Everything looks great on paper, but things have to play in place,” Moses said. “We have to get comfortable with the offense, we have to get comfortable with each other, learning each other. I’ve been a part of some great offensive lines in my career and really it’s the camaraderie.”
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The two playmakers should have spirited competition throughout training camp.
“I love it. Marlon is Marlon,” Bateman said. “He’s a phenomenal player. He definitely makes our team better. He’s an incredible leader. So, I definitely look forward to going against him throughout training camp.”
“I’m really excited to get some good battles in with Bateman,” Humphrey said. “I know what he can do on the field, I know he hasn’t shown it yet, but anyone around here in the building has seen what he can do. I think him being that Number One guy, I think he’ll lead the guys well. Just all of the receivers in general. I want our secondary to be the best secondary.
“The only way that you get that is if you have really good guys to cover in practice, so I think we have the ability to really sharpen each other.”
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Outside linebacker · Age: 23
The Ravens asked a lot of Oweh as a rookie, and it took its toll, with a season-ending foot injury followed by offseason shoulder surgery. I’ll take the purple-colored glasses approach: Oweh was productive in 655 snaps despite changing positions and apparently playing through injury. (The shoulder injury was never disclosed.) Oweh, who had 49 total pressures by Pro Football Focus’ count, is playing for an organization that specializes in churning out quality edge players. He’s the rare pass rusher that makes you miss. There were times his feet were so quick that opposing tackles barely touched him.