Saturday’s practice felt like football.
For the first time during training camp, the pads came on and the practice was full-go. There were some tense moments, and tempers flared up at times between the offense and defense.
“That’s part of football,” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. “Guys are in there tousling, fighting – guys are fighting for positions, you know?”
On a day where Dennis Pitta’s serious hip injury overshadowed everything else, here were some of the other highlights from the afternoon:
- The sound of pads cracking is a beautiful thing. Practice takes on a whole new energy when the offensive and defensive lines crush into each other on every play.
- Putting on the pads also tends to make practice chippy at times. There were a couple of scrums on the day, as center Gino Gradkowski and nose tackle Terrence Cody got into it on a couple of occasions. Both players lost their helmets in the process of all the pushing and shoving. The sidelines cleared with teammates breaking up the jostling.
- Left tackle Bryant McKinnie practiced again and he seemed to do better than Friday, when he spent most of the second half watching from the sidelines. McKinnie worked with the first-team offense and finished his first full practice. He looks to be working hard to shed the extra weight.
- First-round pick Matt Elam showed off his ball skills with a nice interception on Joe Flacco. The Ravens quarterback floated a ball over the middle intended for wide receiver David Reed, and Elam hauled in the pick with his outstretched arms. He then took off the other way looking for a big return before the play was blown dead.
- Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has been making a home in the offensive backfield during the first week of camp. He looks fast and explosive, and seems to be blowing by any offensive lineman put in front of him. On one goal-line series, he broke into the backfield on three straight plays and brought down running back Bernard Pierce. Dean Pees said it best after practice when he was asked about how Suggs has performed. “Sizz is Sizz,” Pees responded.
- Wide receiver Torrey Smith is making his share of plays during camp, and he came down with an a nice touchdown grab after blowing by cornerback Chykie Brown in coverage.
- As you would expect in the early part of camp, there were a number of pre-snap penalties called on both sides of the ball. The offense had a handful of false starts and illegal formations, and the defense also jumped offsides several times. That’s part of the process early in camp.
- Near the end of practice, Head Coach John Harbaugh had the team run through some fun situations. It was first-team offense vs. first-team defense, and he had the offense attempt three plays from the goal line. The defense stone-walled the offense. Then the two sides did a “final play” scenario from the 10-yard line, and the defense kept the offense out of the end zone again.
- Rookie inside linebacker Arthur Brown had a nice pass breakup on tight end Billy Bajema on a pass that would have gone for a touchdown. Brown has looked smooth in pass coverage this week.