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5 Intense Practice Matchups

Posted Apr 14, 2014

Suggs and Flacco battle back-and-forth. Ngata will push new center. Matchup of the Smiths.

The friendly back-and-forth between cornerback Lardarius Webb and wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. has already started.

The veteran defender said that he’s looking forward to lining up across from the Pro Bowl receiver in practice this season, and that facing Smith each day will make him “100 percent better.” This showcases exactly why Head Coach John Harbaugh likes to see intense competition on his practice field.

Webb vs. Smith isn’t the only marquee practice matchup the Ravens have this year, and here’s a look at some of the other battles:

OLB Terrell Suggs vs. QB Joe Flacco

This rivalry reached new heights last season when Flacco was coming off a Super Bowl MVP performance and a record-setting contract extension. Suggs has long been known for his trash talk, and Flacco matched him word-for-word during training camp. Suggs isn’t able to hit Flacco during practice, but that doesn’t stop the two stars from going after each other vocally. They both seemed to enjoy the trash talking dynamic, as Flacco jokingly reminded Suggs which player has the fatter wallet by shouting, “I get paid more than you – a lot more!”

NT Haloti Ngata vs. C Jeremy Zuttah

The Ravens set out to upgrade the interior of their offensive line this offseason, and adding Zuttah to the lineup was a critical piece in that equation. The Ravens traded for Zuttah and then signed him to a contract extension, and the expectation is for him to immediately take over the starting center job. Zuttah will have to quickly adjust to a new offense, and one of the biggest challenges will be facing off with Ngata each day in practice. Ngata is one of the NFL’s premier defensive lineman and he won’t make life easy for the newcomer when they bang heads during the grind of training camp.

CB Jimmy Smith vs. WR Torrey Smith

The Ravens’ top two picks of the 2011 draft have both emerged as budding stars and key players from the Ravens. Torrey got the better of his defensive counterpart earlier in their careers as Jimmy dealt with injuries during training camp. But Jimmy was healthy last year and he was arguably the team’s top defender in 2013. Both are heading into critical seasons, and they will likely turn up the intensity when they square off at the Under Armour Performance Center.

OG Kelechi Osemele vs. DL Brandon Williams

This offseason is critical for Osemele and Williams. The third-year offensive lineman is rehabbing from back surgery and hoping to return to the kind of player he was during his rookie campaign where he started every game. Williams is out to show that he’s deserving of a larger role in his second season, and he will have to hold his own against Osemele in practice to prove he’s up to the task. Osemele is known for his mean streak once he gets on the field, and he isn’t afraid to mix it up with his teammates during practice. Williams will likely be in the line of fire during practice, and will have ample opportunity to make his case for a starting job.

OLB Elvis Dumervil vs. RT Rick Wagner

If the season started today, second-year offensive lineman Rick Wagner would be the Ravens’ starting right tackle. Wagner, a 2013 fifth-round pick, has spent this offseason focusing on making the move to the right side, and he’ll get tested by the Pro Bowl outside linebacker once he returns to Baltimore. Dumervil is one of the game’s elite pass rushers, and he’s a high intensity player during practice. Dumervil will push all of the competitors for the right tackle spot throughout the summer, and if Wagner can hang with him, he can likely handle just about anybody.


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