The Ravens had their second session of 10 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Thursday, but it was the first chance for the media to watch this year's team in action.
Baltimore had strong attendance and Head Coach John Harbaugh said he was happy with the group's effort and pace of practice, which is always up-tempo.
Here are a few notes from the session:
- Second-year running back Lorenzo Taliaferro looks to be in fantastic shape. He was almost unrecognizable at first, looking trimmed down and muscled up. He seems quicker.
- Returning from a season-ending Achilles tear in last year's training camp, defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore was very active. He dominated last year's rookie minicamp and seems to be picking up where he left off.
- Second-year defensive tackle Casey Walker also flashed. He got into a bit of a shoving match with guard Ryan Jensen and was forceful up the middle.
- Tight end Crockett Gillmore is much more than just a blocker. He made a couple of diving catches and nearly hauled in another errant pass with one hand and two men in coverage. Gillmore could be a weapon in the passing game this year.
- Veteran backup quarterback Matt Schaub had an up-and-down practice. He missed a couple throws early during the 11-on-11 session, then floated a beautiful touchdown pass to veteran wide receiver newcomer Aldrick Robinson.
- Schaub had a problem with pick-sixes the past two seasons and rookie outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith may have gotten him on Thursday. Smith sniffed out a screen pass and leapt into the passing lane to make an impressive interception. It was a tough play and Smith showed good hands and instincts.
- Rookie sixth-round receiver Darren Waller showed he can run more than just deep routes. He caught a pair of intermediate passes during 11-on-11 work, including one back shoulder throw.
- He's 36 years old, but Steve Smith Sr. can still get up. Smith made perhaps the catch of the day leaping high to grab a pass. Of course, Smith spun the ball.
- Smith also spent the early part of the special teams practice fielding punts. Could he get a look with wide receiver Michael Campanaro sidelined?
- Cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Kamar Aiken both caught a sideline pass at the same time. The two went to the turf trying to wrestle the ball away from each other. Aiken came up with it. A tie goes to the offensive player.
How Flacco Likes His Footballs
With DeflateGate news dominating much of the NFL offseason, quarterback Joe Flacco was asked how he likes his footballs.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games of the season after the league's investigation into underinflated balls used in last year's AFC championship game.
"Do I have to comment on that?" Flacco said with a laugh.
"Listen, everybody likes the football their way. That's why I make sure our guys rub the balls down in a certain way – have them rub a couple balls down and make sure I like it – and once they have the ball the way I like it, I trust them to do that from that point forward."
Flacco's Take On Extra Point Change
The debate with the new rule changes on extra points is whether pushing extra points from a 17-yard kick to a 33-yard attempt will lead to more teams going for two-point conversions.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said there's "no doubt" it will encourage more attempts, especially in poor weather and late in the year. He said the Ravens will spend more practice time attempting and defending two-point conversions this year, and that has already begun.
With Flacco's aggressive mindset, it wouldn't have been surprising to say he would want to go for it more often, but he didn't jump at the idea.
"I wouldn't think that you would just naturally go for a two-point conversion* *more," Flacco said. "I'm not the coach though.
"There may be a couple more misses here and there, and I guess in order to make up for that miss, maybe teams will go for two the next time. I don't know. I'm sure it will work out so that there are a couple more two-point conversions, but we'll see."
Just Don't Get To 213 Receptions
According to research done by CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora, Flacco has completed the most passes in his career to wide receiver Derrick Mason and Torrey Smith.
Each caught 213 passes from Flacco. Neither was with the team the next year.
"Don't tell my guys that," Flacco said with a laugh. "Whenever they get close to 213 we have to make sure we end that season with 220, at least. Something that's not 213."
Williams: 'We Don't Need Anybody To Be Haloti'
Defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan are the two players at the heart of Baltimore's defensive interior with Haloti Ngata being traded to Detroit.
While Williams said he feels he needs to step up and "accept[s] the challenge willingly," he isn't trying to be Ngata.
"I've got to be my best player and my best self," he said. "That goes for everybody else on this defensive line. We don't need anybody to be Haloti. We need everybody to be their best selves and we'll be just fine."