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Late For Work 6/16: 4 Things We Learned From Mandatory Minicamp

Posted Jun 16, 2017

Terrell Suggs is motivated and looks really good. Ravens like new blocking scheme. Injury picture is clear. Maurice Canady making strong push for nickel job. Plus, the story behind Maclin's free crab cakes.

The Ravens concluded mandatory minicamp Thursday, and the players now have about five weeks off before training camp begins.

All three days of minicamp practice were open to the media, and here are some things local reporters learned from watching the practices.

1. Terrell Suggs is Motivated, and Looks Really Good

The veteran defender made his offseason practice debut this week, and reporters are always eager to see what kind of shape Suggs is in. He has talked in the past about using the summer to trim down to his “fighting weight” before training camp, but he won’t need to worry about that this year.

“Suggs, who will turn 35 in October, is participating in the Ravens' offseason conditioning program for the first time in his 15-year career, and it's visibly paying off,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Teammates and coaches raved about the tone Suggs has set this offseason, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said he’s never seen him more motivated.

2. Injury Picture is Clear

The Ravens had a tough spring on the injury front, as tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and cornerback Tavon Young (ACL) were both likely lost for the season. But as the Ravens head into training camp, they don’t have many lingering injury questions.

“The overall status report has stabilized with most currently-injured players expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month,” wrote WNST’s Luke Jones. “Linebacker C.J. Mosley (shoulder), wide receiver Michael Campanaro (toe), tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring), and defensive tackle Carl Davis (pectoral strain) all missed this week’s mandatory minicamp, but each is expected to be back on the field in late July.”

3. Ravens Like New Blocking Scheme

The Ravens instituted some changes in the trenches this offseason. After primarily using a zone-blocking system over the last three years, they’re now moving to straight-ahead blocking style, and reporters get the sense that the linemen like the move.

Ravens want to be more of a north-south running team and not be so predictable w/their running plays. Welcome change among O-linemen

— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) June 15, 2017

4. Canady Making Strong Push For Nickel Corner Job

The injury to Young created an opportunity for the other cornerbacks on the roster, and last year’s sixth-round pick Maurice Canady seems to be taking full advantage of it. He took most of the reps with the starting defense at nickel corner, and he impressed reporters, coaches and teammates. 

“If the second-year player is supposed to be wide-eyed about working with the first defense, he is not showing it,” wrote The Sun’s Edward Lee.

Taliaferro Embraces Move to Fullback

There aren’t many players in the NFL who transition to fullback. The position is often called a “dying breed,” and many teams around the league don’t even have a true fullback on the roster.

But the Ravens are different. Baltimore’s offense finds ways to get the fullback involved, which was evidenced last year by starter Kyle Juszczyk getting rewarded with a $21 million contract from the San Francisco 49ers.

With Juszczyk gone, the Ravens need someone to step into his lead blocking role, and Taliaferro is working to fill that void. He played fullback during the offseason practices, and the 2014 fourth-round pick told The Baltimore Sun he’s embracing the move from halfback.

“Blocking, that’s always been my strong point, like pass protection,” Taliaferro told The Sun’s Callie Caplan. “It’s technique to it, but it’s more of a will. If you’re willing to stick your nose in there and get dirty and protect the million dollar man and the guys behind him, that’s all it’s about. I don’t think there’s too much learning. It’s just about willpower.”

Taliaferro actually played fullback at Lackawanna College, so the move isn’t all that new for him. That’s probably part of the reason Running Backs Coach Thomas Hammock approached him after last season to suggest the switch.

Taliaferro is competing with undrafted rookie Ricky Ortiz for snaps at the position, and the key for Taliaferro is staying healthy. He’s struggled to overcome a Lisfranc foot injury he originally suffered in 2014, and he’s played just six games over the last two years.

“Coaches know that I can play football,” Taliaferro said. “The biggest question mark around me is my health, and I feel great right now.”

Story Behind the Free Crab Cakes for Life Deal

When Jeremy Maclin was debating where he would play in 2017, Baltimore restaurant Jimmy’s Seafood helped sweeten the deal by offering the receiver free crab cakes for life. After Maclin signed with the Ravens, he tweeted back at the seafood joint to make sure they knew he planned to cash in on that offer.

Pressbox Online’s Glenn Clark talked with the restaurant’s CEO John Minadakis about what went into the offer.

“[Maclin's] agent hit me up beforehand, and Tony Jefferson, too,” Minadakis said. “He said, ‘I'm just giving you a head’s up. Maclin's a big crab cake guy. So whatever you can do.’ I was at the gym, I'm like, ‘I got this; I'll take care of it right now!’”

Maclin said he plans to take full advantage of his spot on the free crab cakes list, and Minadakis has no problem with that. Even if Maclin comes to the restaurant tonight and orders 20 crab cakes, then Minadakis said, “I’d have to watch him eat 20 crab cakes.”

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