Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, center, prepares to catch a snapped ball as fellow quarterbacks Keith Wenning, back left, and Tyrod Taylor, as well as running back Ray Rice (27) look on during an NFL football training camp, Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Last week, fans and media alike were pleasantly surprised to see how dominantly the Baltimore Ravens’ offense performed during the opening week of training camp. Usually, the offensive unit is dragging behind the defensive unit during this early phase of camp, but seven-year quarterback Joe Flacco and his unit mates shocked everyone with their strong grasp of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s offense.
Well, the element of surprise was gone by this week as the Ravens’ defense quickly flipped the script in week two of camp.
After not throwing a single interception through the first four practices of camp, Flacco was picked off or had his passes deflected several times, in the practices from July 28 to Aug. 2. Part of the turnover increase was largely due to Ravens’ Head Coach John Harbaugh’s decision to rest his two starting guards, Kelechi Osmele and Marshal Yanda. With less quality protection on the line, Flacco rushed some throws into tight coverage. But credit also has to go to the secondary men who snagged the picks on Flacco.
Baltimore Ravens defensive players Matt Elam (26) and Albert McClellan (50) run a drill during NFL football training camp practice, Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md.(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, and Asa Jackson each made standout plays on passes from their Super Bowl MVP quarterback. According to BaltimoreRavens.com, the defensive unit has really been trying to pump up the confidence of Brown, who may see significant playing time with the starters if injured starter Lardarius Webb is not ready to go by the regular season. The team recently reported that Webb will miss the first two preseason games due to reoccurring back spasms. Brown will start in his place and has to be prepared for the challenge.
Brown made some nice pass deflections during practice on Aug. 2, but was briefly booted from practice after failing to control his emotions. Brown had a chance at an easy interception on Flacco, but dropped it and then kicked the ball out of frustration. A move like that would have cost the Ravens’ an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during a real game, so Harbaugh kicked Brown out of practice for it. He brought Brown back on the field five minutes later, chatted with him and Brown eventually went on to finish off the practice with decent play.
Smith Sr. Impresses On and Off Field
Ravens’ new veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. continues to shine in camp. When he is on the field, he is always getting open with his savvy route-running ability. But he makes just as much of an impact off the field, coaching and mentoring the younger receivers on the team. Smith even reached out to motivate Brown after he had been kicked from practice on Aug. 2. His presence as a leader is showing its value every day in camp.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker D.J. Roberts collects his equipment after an NFL football training camp practice, Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Heading into Week Three of Camp
The most anticipated moment scheduled for the third week of the Baltimore Ravens’ training camp was unfortunately taken away from fans. The Ravens were scheduled to participate in a joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 8, but the practice was canceled due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Ravens’ media relations personnel explained. According to an announcement on the Ravens’ website, the CBA “limits the number of consecutive days a team can practice or take part in football activities during camp.” The 49ers would have been in violation of the CBA rule had they practiced on Friday, given their practice schedule leading up to a preseason game they will play Aug. 7. The Ravens still plan to host an open practice for fans on Aug. 4 at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.