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Eisenberg's Observations From Training Camp

Posted Jul 26, 2014

Chuckling at Suggs' comments. Players who can gain from hitting. A curious signing.


Observations and thoughts from the first days of training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center:

Chuckling At Suggs’ Comment On Flacco

I had to laugh when linebacker Terrell Suggs suggested quarterback Joe Flacco might need to become more vocal.

If the Ravens’ season is depending on that, they’re in trouble.

If we’ve learned anything about Flacco since he joined the team in 2008, it’s that he’s firm in who he is – a highly confident and competitive guy with a low-key personality.

We’ve watched him evolve from a kid into a grownup, from a recent college grad into a married father of two, from a quiet rookie into a locker room elder. I can easily see him becoming more assertive as an offensive leader. As a former Super Bowl MVP and the team’s highest paid player, he certainly understands that he can’t subsist on the fringes. Nor does he want to. His voice is among the loudest at meetings.

But he has never been one to leap into the middle of a pregame huddle and start shouting, with steam spewing from his ears – he just isn’t wired that way. That was the case before he won a Super Bowl, after he won a Super Bowl, and it’s always going to be the case. Joe is Joe.

Fortunately for the Ravens, their season depends on whether he flourishes in new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system, not on whether he gins up some false emotion and starts shouting and cursing.

Jury Still Out At No. 3 Corner, Curious Signing

Cornerback Chykie Brown had a rough first practice Thursday and struggled again early Friday – receiver Torrey Smith sped past him and made a reception far downfield. But Brown, playing with the first string after Lardarius Webb suffered a minor injury, rebounded to hold his own later in the three-hour workout.

The jury is still out on whether he’s ready to step into Corey Graham’s important role as the No. 3 cornerback, and since it’s not clear the roster contains a suitable option, I assumed the Ravens would sign another candidate after cornerback Aaron Ross went down with an Achilles injury Thursday. Well, the Ravens did add another pass defender, but it was a safety, Will Hill, rather than a corner.

What do we make of Friday’s curious signing? Hill is just 24 and talent evaluators agree he possesses starting-caliber ability, but his former team, the Giants, gave up on him after he violated the league’s substance abuse policy twice and its performance-enhancing drug policy once, all in less than two years. He won’t be eligible to play for the Ravens until Week 7.

His signing could mean the Ravens aren’t entirely satisfied with what they’re seeing at safety, especially since rookie Terrence Brooks seemingly is not on a plug-and-play track. (He’s running with the third string.)  It could mean the team is thinking outside the box for a No. 3 corner if Brown and Asa Jackson aren’t deemed viable. Maybe a safety such as Hill or Jeromy Miles could step into the role.

Of course, the signing might be nothing more than a team simply rolling the dice on a talented-but-troubled guy, seeing if it can steal a useful player. Hill has been given another chance to prove he can stay out of trouble and remain eligible to play. If he does, he will have a role. But that’s a big if.

Players Who Can Gain From Hitting

When the Ravens practice Saturday, they will wear pads and hit people for the first time since their season-ending loss in Cincinnati last December. Head Coach John Harbaugh has said repeatedly that he will learn a lot about various players “when the pads come on.” Well, that time has come. Which players have the most to gain?

Kyle Juszczyk, the second-year fullback, certainly does. It was a year ago around now that the team watched him in pads, decided he wasn’t ready to be a lead blocker and brought back Vonta Leach. That didn’t go so well, and a year later, Leach is gone and Juszczyk is the clear-cut starter. He’s catching a ton of balls in passing drills, looking like a useful puzzle piece in the making. If and when the questions about his blocking are answered, his elevation to the starting job would be assured.

Rick Wagner is another guy who will be under scrutiny. The 2013 fifth-round pick earned a starting job with his performance in the spring season of organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamps, and the Ravens seem fine with making him their right tackle. (Jah Reid is his only competition.) But at the same time, they’re interested to see how he holds up in a scrimmage. That could foretell how well he holds up in games.

Unusual Miss For Tucker

Justin Tucker missed a field goal attempt Friday – a very makeable one, under 40 yards. I would say it’s worth noting that he pushed it wide right, except I can’t remember seeing Tucker miss another attempt in a recent OTA or camp practice. If he hasn’t been perfect, he’s been close. So one miss? Big deal.

 

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