Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com
The Ravens’ defensive line had a day, showing why coaches are not concerned about a drop-off after the loss of Calais Campbell in free agency. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike stood out. On the second series with the first-teamers, Madubuike curled running back Justice Hill as he was trying to rip the ball out of Hill’s arms. Later in practice, Madubuike bullied his way into the backfield for what would have been back-to-back sacks.
Queen got the biggest pad crack of the practice when he screamed across the field to pop Hill near the sideline. Queen had a grin after practice talking about how much the defense enjoyed getting to be a little more physical.
Baltimore’s edge rush duo of Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo continued their strong practice play. Ojabo was super fired up after teaming up with Madubuike for another sack.
Despite the pressure, the passing attack had its sharpest day yet. The offensive play of the day had to be a red-zone touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson to Nelson Agholor. Jackson floated a pretty pass and Agholor showed his impressive leaping ability to sky over Brandon Stephens and come down with the touchdown.
Rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson flashed his speed and physicality, catching wide receiver James Proche II from behind to shove him out of bounds, and thumping running back Melvin Gordon III. Harbaugh said it’s easy to see how fast Simpson can get from point A to Z.
Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun
Defense has been disruptive
Unsurprisingly, the defense has performed stoutly so far, especially up front.
On Saturday, defensive tackle Michael Pierce beat rookie Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu on a play-action pass and got his hands on the throw. One play later, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was there when Jackson ran a play-action bootleg. Two plays later, defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and outside linebacker David Ojabo chased down Jackson on the outside.
With players only in guardian helmets and pads and the priority on safety, second-year coordinator Mike Macdonald could only get so much of a read on his defense, but was pleased with what he saw.
“You look at it right now, we’re looking for technique, effort, execution, [and] that sort of thing,” he said, adding that the pass rush will be easier to evaluate once the full pads come on this week.
In the secondary, meanwhile, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Kyle Hamilton have stood out with their usual shutdown abilities.
Cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin, Jalyn Arnour-Davis, Kevon Seymour and Brandon Stephens have also made some nice plays, but have been inconsistent on occasion.
“We’ve got some stalwart pieces in there, but there’s a lot of opportunity as well for the guys that we just brought along,” Macdonald said. “That’s all we’re asking them to do is just embrace it and get after it when they get out there. I think you’re seeing the unit come together over time.”
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB: The second-year cornerback had his hands on two potential interceptions but was unable to secure them. Still, he’s been in good position more often than not. The biggest takeaway is he looks healthy and has been a full participant in all of the practices to this point. That wasn’t the case for much of his rookie season, which ended early because of a hip injury. With Damarion Williams still working his way back from an ankle injury and Trayvon Mullen sidelined with a toe/foot injury, Armour-Davis has taken the lead among the young corners in pushing for a bigger role.
Marcus Williams, S: For much of last week, Williams was the most impactful defensive player on the field. He was strong in coverage and quick to come forward in run support. His highlight play was probably jarring the ball loose from Andrews, but he played with speed and urgency throughout the week. The most encouraging thing for the Ravens is just how vocal Williams has been. He didn’t say a whole lot last season in his first year with the team, yet he seemingly understands there’s a leadership/communication void with the departure of Chuck Clark, and he’s intent on filling it.
Michael Rovetto, PressBox
“I don’t think it’s Lamar’s issue mainly as I think it’s the construction of the offense,” Paolantonio said. “… I think people will be not surprised, I think they’ll be shocked by how fast this offense runs. It runs white hot, machine-gun fast.”
Wide receiver Zay Flowers brings more speed to the Ravens’ offense as well. Flowers was selected as the No. 22 pick in the NFL draft out of Boston College this spring. Flowers ran a 4.42 second 40-yard dash at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
Paolantonio says the addition of Flowers will open up the offense for others. Flowers will likely run many go routes because his speed will force opposing teams to use a safety to help bracket him.
Flowers fits perfectly within the offensive scheme that Monken will implement, according to Paolantonio.
“I think Zay Flowers is one of the most important rookies to watch in training camp,” Paolantonio said. “We’re [six] weeks away from opening day, and I think Zay Flowers is one of the more intriguing rookies in the league, if not the most intriguing rookie, considering the change that you’ve made at the offensive coordinator position.”
Ben Cooper, PFF
While the Ravens may field a top-three linebacker duo in 2023, at least in PFF analyst Dalton Wasserman’s opinion, it’s also true that Patrick Queen is in a contract year after the team declined his fifth-year option. Queen earned sub-45.0 grades in his first two NFL seasons before meshing last year with Roquan Smith, who debuted with Baltimore in Week 9. From that point to the end of the regular season, Queen posted a 76.7 overall grade (16th).
That brings us to Trenton Simpson, whose versatility will be an asset in Year 1 before it becomes apparent if Queen has priced himself out of Baltimore, if the Ravens have simply chosen to move on or if it makes sense for the team to re-sign him.
In coverage last season, Simpson tied for 18th in catch rate allowed among 199 qualifying Power Five linebackers. Training camp will be his first opportunity to show he belongs on the field in a modern linebacker role.