On Day 5 of training camp and Day 1 in pads, the nicest weather brought forth the most excitable competition. Though one-on-one battles are still not being conducted, a hearty fill of 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 to judge, critique and celebrate. Here are my latest observations.
The Ravens had 100% non-PUP, non-NFI attendance to begin practice, with rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers and cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams return. Flowers was out for two practices due to illness and Pepe missed time as he was on the PUP.
With about 20 minutes remaining in practice, safety Geno Stone limped off the field under his own power. It appeared to be an ankle injury, a mild one as he walked off without any help, but more won’t be known until tomorrow’s attendance.
- RB J.K. Dobbins (PUP)
- FB Patrick Ricard (PUP)
- WR Rashod Bateman (PUP)
- OL Andrew Vorhees (NFI)
- OLB Tyus Bowser (NFI)
- LS Nick Moore (NFI)
Pierce and Pass Rush Pressure Continues With the Pads On
The lengthiest dose of 11-on-11 featured a robust contest on which pass rusher could get home first. Frequently, Michael Pierce and Justin Madubuike bullied through.
One play saw Oweh, Madubuike and Ojabo fully shut down a rep due to incoming pressure. Ojabo jumped and was punching the air in celebration.— Kyle Phoenix Barber (@KylePBarber) July 31, 2023
Typically, the team lets the play evolve after the pressure for the sake of getting the ball out. This play, whistles were blown.
At one point a play was blown dead and it looked as if David Ojabo officially got the sack, but Justin Madubuike and Odafe Oweh had stormed into the backfield as well.— Bo Smolka (@bsmolka) July 31, 2023
The Ravens are very high on their defensive front and thus far that optimism looks warranted
The interior defensive linemen aren’t the only ones getting home, either. Both outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo, going against the Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses respectively, have won a couple reps, though less frequently.
I asked Head Coach John Harbaugh about Michael Pierce and what he’s shown throughout camp.
“I think he’s had a really great start to training camp,” Harbaugh said. “Michael Pierce has really expressed himself out here the way he does, with physicality and today we put the pads on so we had a chance to do it a little more for real and he looks great doing it. I think he’s in really good shape [and] excited to play some football.”
I asked Pierce what it was like to get the pads back on and what he felt like today.
“It was fun to get the pads on, try some new stuff that I’ve been working on with [Outside linebackers coach] Chuck [Smith]; working on with Weave,” Pierce said. “... For me it’s about trying stuff and making sure I have different things in my repertoire going into the season. I had a blast today.”
I also asked Pierce to share what it’s been like working with Smith.
“Oh, it’s been awesome,” Pierce said. “I actually went to him in 2018 and he gave me some things. I just failed to put them in at the time. But having him here and just bringing a different perspective, Coach Weave’s been awesome but those guys are obviously specialists for a reason and he’s done a great job not only with ‘Jabo,’ ‘Dafe’ and everybody but also with the D-tackles.”
Nelson Agholor Scores
A forgotten fact about this offseason was the Ravens’ first addition at wide receiver: Nelson Agholor. The eight-year veteran has flown under the radar with Odell Beckham Jr. and Flowers drawing headlines, but Agholor’s found the end zone the most of any pass catcher on the roster. Today, Agholor scored during red zone drills with the Ravens facing a 3rd & 2 on the 11-yard line. Rather than get a few yards and extend the drive, Lamar Jackson floated one on a fade to Agholor who came down with the ball over defensive back Brandon Stephens.
Harbaugh shared what he’s seen from Agholor throughout camp.
“He’s a big, rangy receiver like you saw there when he made that catch,” Harbaugh said. “He runs routes really well. He’s a hard worker. He knows what he’s doing, and I’m sure glad that we have him.”
- Wide receiver Tarik Black caught back-to-back passes that were highlight plays. The first being a back-shoulder catch against cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis for 20 yards. The next play he ran a streak route and Josh Johnson dropped it in the bucket for a 30-yard completion.
- Laquon Treadwell had a big moment, reeling in a 40-yard completion down the sideline from Tyler Huntley against Armour-Davis, who had a day to forget after a strong string of practices before today. Treadwell was down at the 5-yard line. Treadwell, later on, dropped a dime of a pass from Johnson in the end zone over the shoulder.
- Running back Melvin Gordon got thrown back into wide receiver Tylan Wallace as he was supposed to lead block on the sweep play by rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson. The rookie had a couple physical plays in practice, but none more impressive than the block denial.
- Cornerback Arthur Maulet had a diving pass breakup against wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr.
- During 7-on-7, on a play that was on extended time, Lamar Jackson threw a ball to Beckham that was swatted by cornerback Marlon Humphrey, that somehow managed to be caught by Beckham. The crowd loved to see the wizardry resulting in a first down.