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Practice Report: Rookies Take Center Stage at OTAs

QB Devin Leary
QB Devin Leary

While Lamar Jackson was the center of attention Wednesday, he was not at Thursday’s practice. That created more reps for backup Josh Johnson and sixth-round pick Devin Leary, and the strong-armed rookie took advantage.

Here are my notes from Thursday's Organized Team Activities practice:

  • Leary made many strong throws on the day. He showed nice touch with a touchdown pass on a wheel route from Justice Hill, who got behind Chris Board. Leary also ripped a couple passes downfield to undrafted rookie wide receiver Dayton Wade, then rifled another three other passes into snug coverage to tight ends Charlie Kolar, Isaiah Likely, and Riley Sharp. There were some questions about his accuracy coming out of college considering he had a 56.3 completion percentage last year at Kentucky, but Leary had impressive ball placement on Thursday.
  • While Leary's fast decision making and seeming fearlessness is impressive, especially for a rookie, he did get into trouble with picks. Leary got picked once on a tipped ball by Trenton Simpson that undrafted rookie safety Jordan Toles reeled in. Then Leary drilled one right into the pads of cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis. Leary told Head Coach John Harbaugh when he first got drafted that he knows he needs to cut down on interceptions (he had 12 last season) and that work continues. But it's good (and fun) to watch him let it rip.
  • A second-year player to keep an eye on is outside linebacker Tavius Robinson. He put a nice jump/swipe move on right tackle Daniel Faalele early in practice to disrupt a pass from Johnson. Robinson is in fantastic shape after an offseason in the weight room.
  • Defensive tackle Travis Jones is another young player who could break out this season. With Michael Pierce watching from the sideline, Jones is feasting early in OTAs. He sniffed out a screen to Justice Hill to force an incompletion and later had a tipped pass (and broke out the Brent Urban celebration).
  • Veteran inside linebacker Malik Harrison had the play of the day Wednesday and turned in another strong practice Thursday. He would've had a sack, or at least a big quarterback hit, on a nice looping inside pass rush. Harrison also had nice downfield coverage on Isaiah Likely to force an incompletion.
  • Third-year cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis is off to a strong start in OTAs after back-to-back seasons were spoiled by injuries. Besides his interception, which he tipped to himself and wasn't easy considering it was a Leary fastball, Armour-Davis also had excellent coverage on a deep pass intended for Tylan Wallace and another for Sean Ryan. He's an impressive athlete who just needs to stay healthy.
  • The Ravens have several undrafted rookie wide receivers, but Wade jumped to the front of the line on Thursday. The 5-foot-9 wideout was active with several catches, including a one-hander when he reached back with his left hand against tight coverage. He hauled in 55 receptions for 830 yards last season at Ole Miss.
  • Wade's one-handed snag was nice, but first-year tight end Scotty Washington, who joined the practice squad late last season, gave him a challenge for catch of the day with a leaping grab over the head of cornerback Tre Swilling. The 6-foot-5 Washington, who came out of Wake Forest, certainly looks the part.
  • With Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, and Nelson Agholor not practicing, Malik Cunningham also got more reps. Cunningham is now officially listed as a wide receiver instead of a quarterback on the roster, and he made that look like the right call with several grabs Thursday.
  • First-round cornerback Nate Wiggins made a nice play breaking up a third-down slant pass intended for Wallace in situational drills late in practice.
  • Fourth-round rookie Devontez Walker had a false stat penalty in the situational drills but bounced back with a sliding catch on a comeback route on the very next play to help set up a field goal. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken said Walker is a "quick learner" and that he's been impressed with Walker's ability to play multiple spots, execute technique, and pick up the nuances of route running to adjust with coverage.

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