And on the sixth day of the Baltimore Ravens 2023 training camp, Head Coach John Harbaugh let there be one-on-one competition between pass-catchers and defenders. The fans went wild for wide receivers consistently but credit the crowd for rooting for defensive backs when lining up, too. Here are my latests observations.
After missing the final 20 minutes of practice yesterday, safety Geno Stone was not found on the field. According to Harbaugh, it’s not a big concern but Stone may be held out for awhile longer.
“Yeah, it’s an ankle [injury],” Harbaugh said. “It’s not going to be long-term ankle [injury]. Maybe a week. We’ll see. Somewhere in that range. Don’t hold me to it, though, but it’s not going to be a long-term deal.”
Midway through practice, outside linebacker David Ojabo exited practice but returned to watch the rest on the sidelines. According to Harbaugh, he’s okay.
Otherwise, the only absent players were those on the PUP and NFI list.
- 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)
Zay Flowers Dominates Day 6
It took six days of practice before a snap of one-on-one, but we’ve finally made it. And shortly into the reps it became clear that the rookie receiver is a problem.
His first rep was a diving grab up against cornerback Rock Ya-Sin on a streak route. His next lineup was against defensive back Daryl Worley, who was shaken on the out route and a step behind “Joystick.” The final rep was arguably the best of any receiver on the day as Flowers’ shiftiness and speed had undrafted rookie cornerback Corey Mayfield Jr. stumble to the turf as Flowers was alone in the open field.
It was a dominant affair by the rookie and it didn’t end there. During 7-on-7 red zone drills from the 10-yard line, which do favor offense, Joystick’s first rep beat safeties Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. After the play, Flowers gave Williams an earful.
The competitive spirit of Flowers was arguably his greatest attribute I read during scouting reports. It was something The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had noted in his 2023 NFL Draft Guide, “The Beast.”
“head coach Jeff Hafley: ‘He’s on a three-win tteam, and he’s out there blocking and fighting with tears in his eyes at the end of the game.’”
To see what Flowers has done over the first few practices has demonstrated nothing but the character we’ve heard about. Putting him in the most competitive environment, one-on-ones and red zone drills, brought forth the energy and him winning just about each rep was a testament to him backing up the spirit with his ability.
Del’Shawn Phillips Shows More than Special Teams Ability
The Ravens added Phillips last season as a way to improve their special teams unit. He played 259 snaps last season, with 258 coming on special teams. But today, he demonstrated a knack for being more than a special teamer by shutting down every tight end but Mark Andrews in red zone 7-on-7 drills from the 5-yard line.
The first rep he stuck with Charlie Kolar and batted the Tyler Huntley thrown ball into the grass. Three plays later, Josh Johnson tried to fit a ball to Travis Vokolek. Phillips interceded the route, caught the ball and had a full head of steam headed back that only a D.K. Metcalf-esque chase-down would stop the defensive touchdown. Six plays after the interception, Phillips was tasked with defending Likely on a play that was by-far dead under normal circumstances as Huntley rolled out in the 7-on-7 drill and after what felt like eight-to-10 seconds, tried to fit the ball to Likely. For a third time, Phillips got his hands on the ball and knocking it to the turf.
Del’Shawn Phillips had two PBUs and this interception in a nine-play span of red zone 7v7. What a series.— Baltimore Beatdown (@BmoreBeatdown) August 1, 2023
It’s hard to envision the Ravens wanting to rely on Phillips over the likes of Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen for red zone pass coverage, but that was one hell of a series by Phillips to demonstrate he may have blossoming talents further than running down kicks and punts.
Agholor a Red Zone Threat?
Last season, the Ravens finished with a paltry 44.44% touchdown rate in the red zone. Various reasons impacted the lack of finding the painted pitch, including play calling, personnel, injuries, miscommunication and drops. Now, the Ravens have made numerous changes to score six and one of them may be veteran wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
Over the past six practices, Agholor has been a consistent touchdown threat in the red zone. He’s been one of the few to find it against cornerback Marlon Humphrey. He scored again today. I asked Agholor if he sees himself as a player who can remedy that in 2023.
“My job and my focus is if my number’s called and I get an opportunity to take advantage of them,” Agholor said. “And that’s important. That’s all I can say. It’s important to take advantage of the opportunities cause the quarterback gives you opportunities, he trusts you and you want to keep his trust.”
- Tarik Black continues to make plays, hauling in a long ball against Brandon Stephens
- Rookie cornerback Kyu Kelly had the lone interception of 1v1 drills, beating Shemar Bridges on his own route. Kelly essentially became the wide receiver as Bridges trailed trying to defend.
- Disappointingly, Marcus Williams and Odell Beckham Jr. did not participate in the one-on-ones. It would be great to see Williams go against Andrews, as the only player to keep him contained last season was Chuck Clark.
- Humphrey and Agholor went against one another in the 1v1s. Humphrey had a PBU on a streak route that was a great competition. The next, Agholor shook Humphrey, stumbled himself, too, but recovered and made the catch.
- Harbaugh described the communication for the defense as gregarious and obnoxious. It was noticeable during the 11-on-11 portion as the offense checked into a new play and Williams, Hamilton and Queen all were shouting, signaling and making adjustments, too.