The Baltimore Ravens are now 10 days into training camp. After Week 1, there were challenges in judging players as they’d yet to sport full pads in practice. But in Week 2, pads were worn, practices lengthened and drills became more intensive. Here’s my list of those who stood out (or fell behind) through two weeks of practice.
Zay Flowers, Wide receiver
The excitement for the rookie receiver is palpable, yet worthy. In one-on-one drills he’s nigh-impossible to defend. He’s equally as shifty and explosive in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. He’s scored, moved the chains and been involved in all aspects of the offense at this point. It’s hard to temper expectations but he’s gone against a strong secondary and made plays against them just about each starter successfully. At this point, it feels Flowers could be the second-most targeted pass catcher on offense behind tight end Mark Andrews this season.
Lamar Jackson, Quarterback
Outside of a rough practice on Saturday, Jackson’s ramped up his accuracy. He has completed throws consistently and found the open receiver, sprinkling throws to his wide receiver unit along with his ever-trusty playmaker Andrews. He’s also begun to find running backs that are open in the new offensive system of Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken.
It’s going to take some time before all things are operating smoothly. That’s the point of training camp. But Jackson’s steadily improved in areas. There’s far more to learn but he’s begun to excel in some areas.
Odell Beckham Jr., Wide receiver
Lost in the sensation of Beckham being a Raven was the quiet practices he had in Week 1. He had a highlight on Day 1 but was I don’t remember him catching a pass in a day or two, or if he did it was limited.
In Week 2, he’s become more involved and made more plays. Such is the case of a receiver in a ramp-up period. He’s still on a pitch count, too, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh. But he’s done well in the limited reps and I liked how he became more involved when things heated up. Hopefully, he is healthy and confident and willing to join the one-on-one drills, though sometimes bigger-name players avoid the drill.
Kyle Hamilton, Safety
Last season at this point the only thing going viral with Hamilton was a one-on-one rep at a stadium practice against Bailey Gaither gone wrong. Along those lines, Hamilton was getting worked in the one-on-one reps against fellow rookie at the time, tight end Isaiah Likely. Now, Hamilton is going toe-to-toe with Andrews in one-on-one drills and in man coverage in 11-on-11 and winning reps. His development over the past season has been nothing short of impressive. And it’s not surprising. He’s a young player, halfway through 22-years-old. He has so much left to learn, grow and develop and he’s doing so with a great crop of leaders in the secondary room. He’s a surefire talent.
Nelson Agholor, Wide receiver
When Flowers makes a play the crowd cheers. When Beckham catches a pass, no matter what, the applause roars. A player who arguably deserves the most applause for consistently finding the end zone in practice is Agholor. The veteran has kept his head down, worked and let his actions speak for themselves. It’s just about every day he’s making officials raise their arms to the heavens signaling he’s scored.
Kevon Seymour, Cornerback
Few have gone against Flowers in one-on-one drills and not been embarrassed. Seymour has gone further and won reps. The tenacious six-year veteran is healthy and matching receivers in their breaks and routes and finding ways to win. The avenue for Seymour to make the roster was expected to be special teams, where he excels. He may be on the field with the defense this season in a real capacity.
Keaton Mitchell, Running back
Consistently, Mitchell has demonstrated his speed and acceleration in getting to the outside and moving the chains. I remember one particular red zone exercise starting from 25 yards out they went back-to-back handoffs to Mitchell and he had them at the 5-yard line and a fresh set of downs for the second team. This, paired with Harbaugh crediting him not by name but number, shows the undrafted rookie prospect is inching ever closer to a roster possibility. Preseason will be his opportunity.
Del’Shawn Phillips, Linebacker
Much like Seymour, Phillips route to the roster was expectantly being paved by special teams play. After all, he played all but one snap last season as a teamer. But a dominant string of practices where he had four or five pass breakups and two interceptions (both in seven-on-seven) put him as a guy the Ravens may want as their third inside backer. Maybe that’s a bit too far but Phillips has shown a knack in coverage and defenses will always want a backer who can cover a tight end or running back.
Tyler Ott, Long snapper
There hasn’t been a hiccup in snapping thus far and give credit to Ott who steps into the NFL’s most poignant kicking group. This unit was using cameras on punter Jordan Stout’s helmet last season to perfect his efforts as a holder. The transition appears seamless.
Odafe Oweh, Outside linebacker
Last season, Oweh looked fierce and made consistent plays. There was talk of the pass rushers boasting about sack numbers in training camp, though they couldn’t actually hit their own quarterback in drills. For that reason I’m circumspect in writing about Oweh’s strong camp. He’s done well, generating pressure and doing so against both Morgan Moses and Ronnie Stanley. The work he’s done with Outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith and others appears to be working.
Melvin Gordon III, Running back
I could be wrong but I feel Gordon’s snap totals have gone down in camp as its worn on. I’ve seen more of Justice Hill, Gus Edwards and Keaton Mitchell. I also haven’t jotted down “33” in my notes all too often. It’s something to take not of for Week 3.
Patrick Ricard, Fullback (?)
Two weeks have passed and Ricard joined the field on Monday as an offensive lineman? It’s becoming clear Monken won’t be using a fullback near the level former offensive coordinator Greg Roman did. So, in an attempt to remain involved, Ricard is working to become a blocker. It’s by no means Ricard’s fault he’s in the Fallers list, it’s just the evolution of the offense maybe moving on from a four-time Pro Bowl fullback.
Josh Ross, Inside linebacker
Last training camp saw Ross looking involved in the defense and earning a spot on the 53-man roster. He was more consistently making plays and shined in the preseason. He was the “green dot” man on defense, calling plays and leading the defense. This training camp hasn’t seen him as productive thus far. Maybe another trio of preseason games better demonstrates his impact.
Ben Cleveland, Offensive guard
Multiple times the guard competition has been asked about at the podium, whether it’s Harbaugh, Monken or Offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. But when it’s mentioned, only two names are mentioned, neither being Cleveland. It feels there’s a significant gap between the two vying for the starting role and Cleveland. Time will tell if he’ll be able to turn it around in the preseason.