Practice Report: Defense Closes Out the Day - Ryan Mink
Cornerback Brandon Stephens returned to 11-on-11 drills after doing just individual work Saturday. Tight end Nick Boyle was also back practicing. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (migraine) was among those remaining out.
While the offense didn’t succeed in the end-game situation, it did have success in earlier red-zone drills. Lamar Jackson rifled a touchdown to Binjimen Victor in the back of the end zone, Rashod Bateman hauled in a score on a quick slant, Jackson side armed a score to Boyle, and Mark Andrews pulled in a tough grab at the front corner of the end zone with Marlon Humphrey in close pursuit.
Running back Tyler Badie made a pretty back shoulder deep catch along the sideline, once again displaying the rookie’s receiving potential.
Rookie defensive tackle Travis Jones has major lateral movement skills. He had a huge swim move that crossed what seemed to be two gaps in an instant when watching from the end zone angle.
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In one-on-one work, Bateman toasted cornerback Kyle Fuller with a right-to-left crossover that freed him for an easy completion over the middle. In their second matchup, he accelerated so easily on a vertical route that all Fuller could do to deny a touchdown was grab Bateman from behind, almost tackling him as the ball arrived.
“He’s been looking pretty sharp,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said of Bateman. “He’s been looking good, looking like a receiver [No.] 1, for sure.”
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay’s deep speed might be the best of any Ravens receiver. He glided past cornerback Robert Jackson in one-on-ones for a deep completion, his second win in two matchups. In seven-on-seven work, Duvernay ran past Williams on a slot fade and then under a high-arcing pass from Jackson for an over-the-shoulder grab.
Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh and defensive tackle Michael Pierce provided the defensive highlights of the Ravens’ one-on-one pass-rush drills. Oweh unbalanced right tackle Morgan Moses with a power move before shedding him, while Pierce dipped out of guard Ben Cleveland’s reach before ripping through as Cleveland tried to recover.
Shemar Bridges, WR: After a really strong beginning to camp, the rookie free agent out of Fort Valley State was starting to lose momentum in recent practices. He had a few drops. He struggled to get separation in one-on-ones. He didn’t seem to be getting as many opportunities. Yet, when the preseason officially began, there was Bridges showing his intriguing skill set and solidifying his standing as the most likely undrafted receiver to make the 53-man roster. Bridges’ four catches for 62 yards was highlighted by his 14-yard touchdown just before halftime. He showed good awareness, ball skills and timing to make the catch. The Ravens need to diversify a small receiving corps and Bridges, who is 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, could help with that.
Ja’Wuan James, OT: There have been some ups and downs early in training camp for James, who is trying to get his body back in football shape while learning a new position. What James is doing isn’t easy and there have been some rough reps in practice. However, he went out Thursday and acquitted himself well. It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but it certainly was a step in the right direction for a player who has played just three games over the past three seasons. Jones is showing improvement and should be getting more comfortable as preseason moves along. The Ravens are hopeful that Ronnie Stanley is ready for Week 1, but James will suddenly become a very important piece to this team if he’s not.
What does a 21st consecutive preseason win mean when all but three projected starters and several key reserves sit out? As we’ve stated before, the Ravens have done an impeccable job assembling 90-man preseason rosters, especially on defense. But it’s tough to say that’s meant much to the big picture.
Though Tyler Huntley doesn’t push the ball down the field much, you can’t argue with completing just under 89% of his passes and playing turnover-free football. He didn’t have the best start to camp, so it was good to see Lamar Jackson’s backup play well.
Travis Jones played 23 defensive snaps and looked the part of someone who can make a serious impact in the defensive line rotation. The 327-pound rookie disrupted the line of scrimmage and showed off the wheels to pursue Willis for a sack. That was impressive.
An underwhelming summer continued for Tylan Wallace, who suffered a minor knee sprain carrying the ball for a 4-yard loss and didn’t flash before the injury while Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche sat out. You hope the 2021 fourth-round pick can return quickly to start stacking stronger practices.
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Once touted as an intriguing deep-speed threat, Slayton could potentially help the Ravens replace the field-stretching ability their offense lost when they traded Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants have a surplus at receiver and the Ravens could utilize Slayton’s skill set.
The Saints completely revamped their receiver room this offseason by drafting Chris Olave and signing Jarvis Landry. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is expecting his franchise to field a pass-happier offense this offseason and he’s made the necessary acquisitions to bring that wish to fruition. It’s pushed Marquez Callaway way down the depth chart.
Callaway’s path to snaps in New Orleans’ new-look offense appears dicey. The coaching staff remains high on Tre’Quan Smith, who’s an excellent blocker in the running game. New Orleans’ offseason activity has bumped Callaway into a positional battle to make the Saints’ final 53-man roster. Callaway is a quality NFL receiver that deserves more snaps and targets than he’ll find in New Orleans. The Ravens could provide Callaway with that opportunity.