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Late For Work 7/25: Steve Smith 'Put On A Show'

Posted Jul 25, 2014

Insider knowledge behind Goodell’s decision. McPhee shows off lesser-seen side. Jensen experiment over.


Steve Smith ‘Puts On A Show’

Get out your popcorn.

New wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. ‘put on a show’ in the first Ravens training camp practice, says ESPN’s Jamison Hensley … and just about every other reporter who witnessed the session.

Smith’s most impressive play, which drew a big “OOOOOOooooo” from the fans in attendance, was when he “torched past” cornerback Chykie Brown for a 70-yard touchdown on a rainbow pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Quarterback Joe Flacco then hit Smith on another deep pass down the sidelines a few plays later where he beat cornerback Lardarius Webb. The play ended in a patented ball spin, but no words were exchanged, says Russell Street Report’s Brian Bower. The two have already been down that road, and it ended in a Dunkin’ Donuts peace offering.

That wasn’t the end of it.

The 14-year veteran got behind Webb and Brown “multiple times” during practice, including during the final set of scrimmages. Per Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun, Smith again gained separation from Webb with an inside move where Flacco was able to hit him in the pocket.

Of course, a good practice for one Raven usually means a tough practice for another Raven since teammates are matching up.

“Poor first practice for CB Lardarius Webb,” tweeted The Sun’s Mike Preston. “WR Steve Smith owned him.”

One would naturally think that it would take time for Smith to find his way in Baltimore as the newcomer. After all, Flacco already has established chemistry with several others targets, including Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown.

But Smith says chemistry is overrated.

Smith was asked where his chemistry stands with Flacco when veterans reported Thursday.

"Do you want me to lie to you or tell you the truth?" Smith asked. 

The truth, please.

"Honestly, for me, I’ve been catching passes from quarterbacks for a lot of years, and I’ve been running routes for a lot of years. If you throw me the ball, there’s no chemistry. You throw me the ball [and if] it’s catchable, I’m going to snag it. That’s what practice is going to be there for. Practice is there to make mistakes, to understand what I need to do and how Joe operates. Then, my job at the end of the day is to make him look good.” 

Smith is doing just that, and here’s the video evidence.

(Mobile users tap “View in browser” at the top of the page to watch)

Does Season-Ending Injury Put Secondary In Rut?

Aaron Ross didn’t even make it to the first official team practice before his season came to an end.

The 31-year-old cornerback, who was just signed in June after a minicamp tryout, tore his Achilles tendon while taking the conditioning test Thursday morning. Ross was brought to Baltimore to compete for the No. 3 corner role with Brown, Asa Jackson and fellow free-agent signee Dominque Franks.

CSNBaltimore.com’s Clifton Brown discussed how big of a loss this would be in the secondary in terms of depth.

“It wasn’t clear how much of a role Aaron Ross would have, but certainly they were hoping he would have a shot to compete for that nickel cornerback spot,” Clifton Brown said. “Now Aaron Ross is out for the season, obviously a very tough break for him.”

Franks has not passed his conditioning test yet, so he was placed on the non-football injury list until he does. That opens the door for Chykie Brown and Jackson to make an early first impression.

“But, that’s a spot that still looks a little questionable for the Ravens,” Brown said. “They still have Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb as the starters, but as you know, if you have a weak link in that secondary, the opposing quarterbacks will find it.”

McPhee Shows Off Lesser-Seen Side

The lasting impression we have of outside linebacker Pernell McPhee – prior to injuries slowing him down – was his rookie season when he jumped onto the map with six sacks.

He recently said he wants to get back to form and lead the team in sacks this year.

But although he’s known for his pass-rushing prowess, The Sun’s Jon Meoli says McPhee “showed off a lesser-seen side of his game.”

“Thursday when he dropped into coverage on a flat route, McPhee, listed at 280 pounds, ran step for step with fullback Shaun Chapas in the right flat and swatted down a pass from rookie Keith Wenning,” Meoli wrote.

McPhee will have a major battle to see many snaps this year at one of the deepest positions on the team. He has Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw ahead of him on the depth chart.

Arthur Brown Gets First-Team Reps, But Mosley Still Expected To Start

Arthur Brown and C.J. Mosley highlight one of the most exciting position battles in training camp this year.

It’s last year’s second-round pick vs. this year’s first-round pick. Both will likely eventually start at linebacker together someday, but only one will in 2014 as long as Daryl Smith stays healthy.

Brown got the reps with the first-team offense yesterday, but “the favorite … remains [Mosley], who was working with the first team at the end of last month's minicamp,” wrote Hensley. “Mosley has been the most impressive rookie in this year's draft class.”

Experiment With Jensen At Tackle Is Over

The Ravens tinkered during the offseason with the idea of moving offensive lineman Ryan Jensen out to right tackle to compete for the starting role there.

“But that experiment appears to be over,” wrote Hensley.

The main competition for the spot seems to be between favorite Rick Wagner and Jah Reid. Reid took snaps with the second-team offense, per Hensley.

Insider Knowledge Behind Goodell’s Decision

Admitting he doesn’t know all the facts, ESPN’s Mark Schlereth says that a two-game suspension, plus a fine, for Ray Rice seems too light looking from the outside in.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a punishment that is on par with other cases like Rice’s, but some are saying he is missing an opportunity to take a strong stand against domestic violence.

Others, including MMQB.com’s Michael Rosenberg, say Goodell did the right thing. Not because domestic violence isn’t a serious issue, but because of the evidence Goodell had before him. Who knows what events transpired that led to the images seen on the infamous TMZ video?

“Now: If you were Roger Goodell, what would you do?” asked Rosenberg. “Can you really suspend Rice for half a season or more based on what you think probably happened? Do you add a game because his fiancée’s comments at a press conference made you a little nauseous? Try putting this sentence in a press release: We understand Ray pleaded not guilty, entered a program and the charges were dismissed, but that video on TMZ was just terrible. No, you could not do that.”

Whatever stance you have on the punishment, you may just want to know the reasoning behind it. MMQB’s Peter King provides some of that reasoning via unidentified sources. King feels Rice should have had a four-game suspension, but “understands” the final ruling.

Here’s some of the insider knowledge, per King:

This is why Goodell was softer on Rice than a four-game suspension:

  • Rice’s wife, a source said, made a moving and apparently convincing case to Goodell during a June 16 hearing at Goodell’s office in Manhattan—attended by Rice, GM Ozzie Newsome, club president Dick Cass of Baltimore; and Goodell, Jeff Pash and Adolpho Birch of the league—that the incident in the hotel elevator was a one-time event, and nothing physical had happened in their relationship before or since. She urged Goodell, the source said, to not ruin Rice’s image and career with his sanctions.
  • This was Rice’s first violation of any NFL policy—personal-conduct or substance-abuse—in his six-year NFL career.
  • Rice was not convicted of a crime in conjunction with the incident, and the New Jersey prosecutor chose not to pursue a case against him last spring after he entered a pre-trial counseling program.
  • Rice has been the Ravens’ leading player in volunteer work in the community. At the time of the assault, he led a Maryland anti-bullying campaign. At the Super Bowl last winter, he was part of an NFL player panel for a cable-TV anti-bullying show and spoke emotionally about needing to be vigilant on the subject.
  • Rice admitted his mistake soon after the incident and went into counseling.

Quick Hits

  • @ClaytonESPN: The Ravens and Ray Rice were hoping the suspension was only going to be two games. Expect no appeal. [Twitter]
  • @89SteveSmith: After a great 1st practice.  I got this hello Daddy from Deuce. Happy to be apart of #Ravennation #agent89 [Twitter]

  • @TorreySmithWR: Felt great to be back out there today...gotta shake a little bit of the rust off [Twitter]
  • Overheard at practice yesterday … "Please leave the building through the nearest exit…." – Automated security message over the loudspeaker,” wrote Meoli. “Practice was nearly over when an automated security message blared over the loudspeaker and ordered the building to be evacuated. The culprit turned out to be Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who pressed a red button beside a door expecting it to be an automatic door opener. Instead, it set off the building's emergency alert. Harbaugh called King out for it, and King was able to laugh off the incident.” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @TeamFlacco: #TBT Check out Joe and Mike in their #Audubon High School football uniforms. [Twitter]
  • Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless discuss comments Flacco needs to be a more vocal leader and “cuss somebody out.” Skip and Sizzle have had some entertaining debates on “First Take” in the past, and Skip wants him to come back as a guest. [ESPN]

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