The Ravens once again returned to padded practice after two days of ramping down, including yesterday’s walkthrough. It was a combative day for the offense, with defenders increasing in physicality and generating pressure. Here are my latest observations.
The Ravens have begun to get a bit banged up and bruised, it appears. Beside the PUP/NFI players, the Ravens were missing five players.
- LB Trenton Simpson
- OLB David Ojabo
- CB Kyu Kelly
- CB Rock Ya-Sin
- S Geno Stone (ankle)
Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked about the Ya-Sin, Ojabo and Simpson.
“Those are short term,” Harbaugh said. “Should be back very soon, Rock should be back soon. David should be back soon. Trenton had a little issue, soft tissue, so we’ll probably play it safe a little bit. We’ll see where it goes.”
The remaining absences are all listed on the PUP/NFI lists.
- 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)
Offensive Frustration In Search of Perfection
It showed early on in practice that the offense was going to be challenged today. The pads were back on and the one-on-one reps from the 25-, 15- and 10-yard line were physical battles that the defensive backs were wanting to compete.
Safety Kyle Hamilton won all three of his reps in the drill. The first by breaking up a ball against tight end Mark Andrews. The second he went nearly stride-for-stride with the tight end and Lamar Jackson’s throw hit a leaping Andrews who couldn’t reel in what felt a bit of an overthrow. The third rep Hamilton went to the line against wide receiver Shemar Bridges and looked puzzled why he was going against somebody other than Andrews. Hamilton jammed Bridges at the line and was glued to the hip of the wide receiver before breaking up the pass in the end zone. Afterward, teammates celebrated with the second year safety.
Hamilton wasn’t the only one to get a pass breakup as Brandon Stephens, Jeremy Lucien, Jordan Swann and Marlon Humphrey all got their hands on the ball. Also, Swann intercepted a pass intended for wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr.
After one-on-one reps, the offense took to the field for 11-on-11. Justice Hill dropped a second-down pass from Jackson. On third down Hill caught a pass for the first but it was negated by a holding penalty that put them to fourth down and the second-team trotted onto the field instead.
Going back the other way with the first-team, the offense did get a sizable completion as Jackson found Andrews over the middle for a 15-20-yard gain. Two plays later Odell Beckham Jr got 20-yard catch, though it felt as though linebacker Roquan Smith may have gotten to Jackson in a live ball situation to pressure him on the throw.
So yes, plays were made, but then came the rough patch.
The first team offense and defense ran onto the field. Humphrey hadn’t heard/seen the first-team called and was late to the drill on the sideline. He sprinted to his side and appeared to be calling to safety Marcus Williams for his assignment. The ball snapped and Humphrey went and covered rookie receiver Zay Flowers and followed him on a route that left Andrews wide open as he floated into Humphrey’s side of the field with no defender within 10-15 yards. Jackson hurled a deep ball in Andrews direction that forced him to attempt a full extension leap to make the catch but the ball fell incomplete.
The next play, defensive tackle Michael Pierce and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh combined for a sack that blew the play dead, where Jackson half-punted the ball in frustration off his right foot (Jackson is left-footed for kicking). After Jackson overthrows Andrews again in tight coverage with Hamilton, and a ball goes through the hands of wide receiver Tarik Black, the defense gets home again on a blitz call that had Arthur Maulet as a free rusher. Jackson then punted the ball to the sky from his left foot and the drill ceased.
This was the most frustrating stretch of practice, but the final straw of grievance came during red zone drills when Andrews felt the contact from Hamilton and Williams on a high throw was enough to warrant a flag. Andrews got up from the grass and turned to the ref, gesturing for a flag and open arms asking why he didn’t get one. The official didn’t appear to give him the answer he wanted, resulting in Andrews giving him the middle finger, which drew a flag from a different official for what would be unsportsmanlike conduct.
Yesterday, Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken expressed there’s work to be done.
“We’re not nearly where we need to be, and we shouldn’t be, because it’s early in camp, but we have a lot of work to do,” Monken said.
Harbaugh spoke on the frustration from the offense after today’s practice.
“I think it’s a reflection of their perfectionism,” Harbaugh said. “They’re chasing perfection and that’s what you want to see from your players. Your players take that mindset, you have a chance. Coaches pretty much always have that mindset. When the players take on that personality because they think they’re capable of it, that’s what you want to see.”
According to Harbaugh, the offense “won” today’s practice, according to their scoring.
“The offense had a very good practice,” Harbaugh said. “They won the practice by about eight points. Doesn’t happen too often. Usually the defense wins those practices. The defense also had a good practice but the offense made a bunch of plays.”
The offense certainly put together some plays but overall the first-team offense struggled.
Keaton Mitchell Impresses Harbaugh
Part of what may have led to the Ravens’ offense winning the practice was undrafted rookie running back Keaton Mitchell’s performance. During 11-on-11 drills that were 25-yards to the end zone, Mitchell had back-to-back 10-yard runs that put the offense at the five yard line. Later on, Mitchell was involved a few more runs and a pass out of the backfield that got turned upfield in a hurry. The big (almost) play was a wheel route by Mitchell that was a hell of a catch against linebacker Patrick Queen and Williams in coverage but was ruled out. Harbaugh talked about Mitchell’s play.
“You saw we threw a wheel route in the corner of the end zone that we almost made. Just kind of right out of bounds but the catch was still made. You know rookie running backs don’t get names yet, we’ll see before we start using his name,” Harbaugh joked. “But No. 34, he showed he can run [and] has good hands.”
Kevon Seymour Competing for a Cornerback Role
The one-on-one battles have featured their fair share of victories for the favored pass catchers, but one defensive back has done admirably: Kevon Seymour. Two days ago he held up against rookie Zay Flowers. Today, he went toe-to-toe with Nelson Agholor, who has feasted in these drills. In two reps against Agholor, Seymour forced two incompletions and a near interception.
Along with his play in the one-on-ones, Seymour’s seen his fair bit of action in 7s and 11s. Harbaugh spoke about what Seymour’s proven over the past week.
“He’s playing DB very well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a guy, high promise coming out. Then he faced just a lot of hamstring issues on one particular side and it dogged him for like three different teams and basically cost him in three different places. He came in here, we built a plan for him in our training room and our weight room and our performance room and he stuck to it. He’s worked really hard ever since and now—knock on wood—he’s been doing great with that. So I think his talents really starting to express itself.”
- Brandon Stephens played well in 1v1s, breaking up two passes, one to Bridges and another for Demus Jr. Later on, he intercepted a Josh Johnson ball that was deflected off Tarik Black and Seymour.
- Makai Polk was upset about an overthrown ball during the 1v1 drills and attempted to jump back in line, pushing Sean Ryan so he could go against Corey Mayfield Jr. for another rep. Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Keith Williams was not having it and removed Polk from the rep. Polk did get one more rep where the ball was once more thrown a bit quick for his liking and he was dissatisfied but trotted off as the rep happened with the whistle for new drills. For the original rep I do have Polk down as he won the route vs. Mayfield but it was a bad ball.
- Laquon Treadwell had a touchdown catch against Jalyn Armour-Davis in the 1v1 drills of 25 yards. Also had a touchdown catch during the 7v7 red zone drills against Seymour.
- As I mostly covered already, Hamilton had a dominant day, contending with Andrews throughout all of practice and had numerous passes defensed.