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Baltimore Ravens 2023 training camp Day 1 observations: Zay Flowers new nickname, big-play OBJ and more

The Baltimore Ravens offense started hot and big chunk plays were made. However, the defense nabbed two takeaways.

Baltimore Ravens Training Camp Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though today it was hot in the Maryland summer sun, it was the coolest expected practice this week. But a rapid 90-minute practice flew as rapidly as the Ravens’ new offense, headed by Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken.


For Day 1 of camp, nine players were absent.

  1. RB J.K. Dobbins (PUP)
  2. FB Patrick Ricard (PUP)
  3. WR Rashod Bateman (PUP)
  4. WR Makai Polk (in attendance, not participating)
  5. OL Brandon Kipper (waived)
  6. OL Andrew Vorhees (NFI)
  7. OLB Tyus Bowser (NFI)
  8. CB Damarion Williams (PUP)
  9. CB Trayvon Mullen (NFI)

Shortly into the first practice, undrafted free agent cornerback Jordan Swann walked off the field and did not return.

The trio of new additions, running back Melvin Gordon III, long snapper Tyler Ott and cornerback Arthur Maulet participated in today’s practice.

New Name for the Rookie

The offense started hot in today’s practice. The first big play bringing cheers was a crossing route by rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers who caught a pass from Lamar Jackson and turned on the afterburners to the edge, beating linebacker Roquan Smith, whose pursuit angle was too tight, forcing Smith to stumble. It’s not often you see Smith falter, so it bodes well for the Ravens’ offense the rookie can fly, and do so on Day 1.

Jackson was asked about working with Flowers and Beckham over the offseason and what he thinks of them.

“I feel like those guys are ready,” Jackson said. “I knew they were going to come in ready. Zay, his new name is ‘Joystick,’ because how he be moving out there so swift and making stuff happen. His new name is Joystick, we’re going to call him Joystick, not Zay.”

OBJ on Day 1

Many wondered if the speed and agility of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would be there after such an extended absence and the knee injuries. It took one day for No. 3 to make a highlight. Beckham hit a curl-and-go double move on Rock Ya-Sin and a prime ball was delivered on time by Jackson for the highlight.

Beckham caught a few passes throughout the day, getting involved in multiple facets. It’s only a day, but seeing wide receivers be the primary targets for Jackson would be a sight for Ravens fans.

Defense Snares a Pair

Though the offense had their fair share of plays and chain-moving catches, the defense generated a pair of turnovers. The first being an interception from safety Kyle Hamilton. In 7-on-7 Jackson threw a ball to wide receiver Nelson Agholor on a deep route who was covered by Rock Ya-Sin and Hamilton. The leaping safety made the play and came down with the first pick of camp. This was the first incompletion of the 7-on-7 drills, after completing nine straight completions.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey was asked about Hamilton during media availability.

“I’m really excited to see Kyle in a bigger role this year,” Humphrey said. “As far as starting safety, obviously he played some nickel [last year], game plan, I’m sure he’ll — he’s a guy that can play anywhere but for now we have him predominantly at safety so — but I’m really excited to see him go there.”

Later on in 11-on-11 drills, veteran quarterback Josh Johnson was under duress in the pocket and attempted to lob the ball in a high-arcing pass to running back Melvin Gordon. The ball sailed multiple yards too far and into the chest of defensive back Geno Stone for his first of training camp, and the second interception of camp.

Humphrey’s Quiet Day

Though it was Day 1, it wasn’t a heavy workload for Humphrey. By my eyes, he didn’t have a pass thrown his way. I asked Harbaugh about the lack of passes toward his star cornerbacks side of the field.

“Yeah, maybe they were throwing away from him, you’ll have to ask the quarterbacks and Coach Monken,” Harbaugh said with a bit of a grin. “I think Marlon is in great shape. He’s a hardworking guy and I think he’s really determined to have a great season.”

Humphrey was asked about his “quiet” afternoon, but didn’t acknowledge so much his lack of being targeted, opting to talk about the length of practice, which points toward Harbaugh’s comments on Humphrey being a hard worker and wanting to maybe be out there a bit longer.

“It was a little bit shorter than the usual first day,” Humphrey said. “But it was all by design. I think we wanted to get more high yardage without as much drag and I think it worked real well.”

Quick Hits

  • QB Tyler Huntley had a 25-yard run with FB Ben Mason lead blocking.
  • James Proche dropped his first pass, then went on to catch four or more passes the rest of practice.
  • Roquan Smith sniffed out a developing screen and got to the running back just before the blockers could out in front.
  • Rookie offensive lineman Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu earned first-team left guard reps. According to Harbaugh, the rookie “earned the right” to get those reps.
  • At one point, both Bateman and Dobbins were seen on the sideline of practice.