The Ravens were in front of their fans, so of course they had to put on a show.
Big plays highlighted Sunday's practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where the attendance was comparable to last year when the Ravens drew about 20,000 fans to the free practice.
Rookie receiver Aaron Mellette hauled in a bomb in the final seconds of a 55-second drill (as opposed to two minutes). Wide receiver Torrey Smith and free-agent rookie wide receiver Marcus Rivers also had nice catches on deep balls.
Overall, it was a good opportunity for the Ravens to show their stuff away from home in Owings Mills, Md.
"Any time you get the opportunity to be in front of the fans you appreciate it," Smith said. "I heard somebody yell 'Go Terps!' Our fans mean the world to us."
Head Coach John Harbaugh said it's also valuable to introduce rookies to a new stadium environment as they prepare for their first preseason game this Thursday in Tampa Bay.
"It's amazing how guys' brains shut down the first time they get into a new environment," he said. "So you go down to Tampa and it's hard for them and they start making little mistakes. This will be kind of a stepping stone for that. You put them in that kind of environment and they can think through things."
It's the second straight year the Ravens have practiced in Owner Steve Bisciotti's backyard. Since the Ravens moved away from Westminster, Md., they have made an effort to connect with fans. The entire team signed autographs afterwards.
Here are some of the highlights from practice:
- Tight end Ed Dickson's hamstring grabbed a little bit so the Ravens pulled him out for precautionary reasons. Harbaugh said the team will re-evaluate it tomorrow.
- Safety James Ihedigbo did not practice because he strained his neck in practice on Friday during special teams drills. Harbaugh indicated it wasn't anything serious.
- Center Gino Gradkowski left practice to have his left ankle re-taped after a run-in with nose tackle Terrence Cody. He returned soon after.
- Wide receiver Jacoby Jones juked cornerback Jimmy Smith during the deep passing drill. Jones could be running a lot of those routes this season.
- Running back Bernard Pierce ran over linebacker Daryl Smith during a red zone running drill.
- Joe Flacco hit tight end Visanthe Shiancoe for a touchdown in red zone work. The two seemed to have a good connection as they recognized a blitz from the defense, and got an easy completion over the middle. Shiancoe got a lot of work with the first-team offense due to Dickson's absence.
- Kicker Justin Tucker is human. He missed from 58 yards out (wide left) and was just short on 68 and 70-yarders. He later had a 63-yard attempt bounce off the front of the crossbar. He later hit a 49-yarder.
- Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor connected with rookie wide receiver Mellette on a last-second touchdown pass during a simulated end-of-the-game segment. Mellette made a nice catch getting past the cornerback and safety, and hauled in the pass with the sun in his eyes.
- Lardarius Webb came up with an interception against Flacco in one-on-one coverage. He immediately held it up, Deion Sanders-style.
- Flacco connected with Smith twice for touchdowns as the first-team offense got the better of the defense. Smith dunked the ball over the crossbar the second time.
- Undrafted rookie cornerback Moe Lee intercepted Taylor on the second teamers. Lee had a tough practice on Thursday, but battled back the past couple days.
- Second-year safety Omar Brown continues to make plays. He had a pair of interceptions in one practice last week and ended Sunday's session with a pick.
- The Ravens will have their only other open practice next Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, starting at 5 p.m.