The first week of training camp for the Baltimore Ravens is in the books, and there’s a lot of good things for Ravens fans to be excited about.
Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, left, leads a drill during practice at the NFL football teams training camp, in Owings Mills, MD., Saturday, July 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
The Ravens practiced two days in just shells and helmets on July 28 and 29, before practicing in full pads on July 30 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md.
Among the outstanding moments of camp so far:
Baltimore Ravens quarter back Joe Flacco looks to pass during practice at the NFL football teams training camp, in Owings Mills, MD., Friday, July 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco is officially back on the field, returning from an MCL injury that sidelined him for the final six games of last season. He’s wearing a brace on his knee—something he said he’ll wear all season—but showed no signs of hobbling. He showed he still has perhaps the strongest arm in the NFL, launching deep balls with ease during the first few days of camp. He tossed a beautiful 60-yard pass for a touchdown to rookie receiver Chris Moore during practice on July 29 that sent fans attending the practice into cheers.
T-Sizzle Still Sidelined
Former Defensive MVP Terrell Suggs hasn’t yet practiced with the team since tearing his Achilles tendon in the opening week of last season, but he was at camp and addressed the media. There is no timetable for the 33-year-old linebacker’s return to the field, but there’s a chance he will be back before camp ends. Regardless, he made sure reporters knew that he’s not done yet. When asked how many QB sacks he has left in his tank, Suggs laughed and quoted the poet Robert Frost, saying, “we’re going to find out. The answer to that question is I have a lot of promises to keep…many miles before I can sleep. I question every day. I get up and I love football. I love the locker room. I love my teammates. I love out here being confrontational. I love talking . That’s just part of being ‘Sizzle.’ I think once I kind of get back to being him, I think all your questions will be answered.”
Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta runs a drill during practice at the NFL football teams training camp, in Owings Mills, MD., Friday, July 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Pitta Looks Like He Was Never Gone
Tight-end Dennis Pitta returned to practice after missing most of the last three seasons due to back-to-back hip injuries. It’s amazing to see him back on the field, considering Pitta once thought his career would be over after fracturing the same hip twice in two years. But the way the veteran tight-end has looked in camp, you would think he was never injured in the first place. Pitta is running all his routes fluidly, and does not appear to be limping. Flacco has been targeting him often in camp, and he’s caught almost everything thrown to him. That’s not surprising at all, considering how good Pitta is when healthy. He’s Flacco’s best friend on the team and the chemistry they have on the field is obvious. Pitta was one of the main reasons Flacco was so good during the Ravens Super Bowl run in 2012. His talent was severely missed during the last three years, and having him back is a true blessing for Ravens Nation.
No Practice for Steve Smith Yet
Veteran receiver Steve Smith also began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list; he missed half the season last year after tearing his Achilles tendon. He was at camp in sweats signing autographs and is expected to return before the regular season starts. Smith had announced last summer that he would retire after the 2015 season, but the unexpected injury changed his mind. He wants to go out healthy and competing for a championship. Smith is easily the most fiery player on the Ravens roster, so expect fireworks once he returns to the field.
Who Impressed the Most?
Former Towson University running back Terrance West looks like the best running back on the team so far in camp. He’s lost some weight and runs with more of a burst, but also shows great vision in finding running lanes to dash through. Veteran running back Justin Forsett will more than likely get the nod to start the season, but don’t be surprised if West gets a lot of touches once the season is underway.
Rookie receiver Chris Moore has also shined all camp. He’s really fast, as illustrated by the 60-yard bomb he caught from Flacco on July 29. Moore burnt veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith on the play. He may be called on to be a major contributor this season with Steve Smith and second-year receiver Breshad Perriman still sidelined, so it’s good to see he’s having an excellent camp.
Another impressive rookie is linebacker Kamalei Correa. He was drafted in the second round to be a pass rusher, but the coaching staff has used him at inside linebacker often in camp. Inside linebackers drop back into pass defensive coverage more often than they rush the passer, so it could have been a disaster for Correa. Instead, he’s shown he can handle the different responsibility; he even intercepted a long pass from Flacco on July 29.
First Round Pick Ronnie Stanley is the Real Deal
It’s not easy for a rookie to take on the left tackle position, which is one of the hardest jobs in football. Most defenses put the best past rusher on the left to attack the blind side of a quarterback; Stanley understands that and has looked sharp so far at the position. It’s obvious he’s a very talented player, considering he was drafted sixth overall this spring. But he’s modest, something his veteran teammates appreciate. All-pro right guard Marshal Yanda said the rookie “works hard and keeps his mouth quiet and that’s what you like to see from a good rookie.”
The Ravens will have an open practice for fans at M&T Bank Stadium on Aug. 1 at 7 p.m.