Random thoughts while watching a Ravens OTA practice at the Under Armour Performance Center:
It's early, but anyone watching these practices would have a hard time saying the Ravens erred by bringing in veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. He brings intensity and enthusiasm to practice, does nothing half-speed, and seemingly has already become a favorite of Joe Flacco's, making numerous catches and plays.
At a time of year when many veterans opt out of voluntary workouts, Smith, 35, is quickly establishing himself as a leader on his new team.
During an 11-on-11 drill, I saw a defensive lineman nimbly slip into the backfield and hustle after Flacco, pressuring the quarterback to roll right and unload the ball. The defensive lineman wore an unfamiliar uniform number (95) so I checked the roster that the Ravens' public relations staff had distributed to the media watching practice.
The defensive lineman was Kapron Lewis-Moore, the second-year player from Notre Dame who sat out the entire 2013 season after suffering an ACL tear in the BCS national championship game in January 2013.
The Ravens drafted him in the sixth round a year ago, just a few months after he went down, knowing he would have to go through what amounted to a redshirt year, rehabbing his injury, before he could play. Well, that redshirt year has come and gone, and Lewis-Moore is healthy, back on the field and making his presence felt.
"He looks good," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said recently.
It's early, but the Ravens' investment in him is looking pretty shrewd.
Lewis-Moore was a standout for the Fighting Irish, a four-year starter who compiled 40 tackles and six sacks as a senior, and was projected to go higher in the 2013 draft before his injury undermined his prospects. If he can approximate his college performance level in the pros, he almost surely will become a piece of the Ravens' defensive puzzle.
For now, Lewis-Moore is competing with DeAngelo Tyson, Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan for the starting tackle spot vacated by Arthur Jones. But Lewis-Moore is a little taller and slimmer than Jones and seemingly could also play end.
One way or another, the Ravens are wondering if he might become the next Arthur Jones, a low-round pick who exceeds expectations.
The Ravens haven't carried three quarterbacks on their roster in a long time, but I think it might happen this year – two guys behind Flacco.
The job description for a No. 2 is a guy who supposedly can step in and give you a chance to win when your starter goes down, and while the Ravens like Keith Wenning, the Ball State quarterback they drafted in the sixth round last month, he just got here and I can't imagine the Ravens thinking they could win with him in 2014. Wenning looks like the backup of the future since Tyrod Taylor's contract expires after this season, but for now, he's a No. 3.
The No. 2 will either be Taylor, who has held the job for the past three years, or someone else whom Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak likes running his system.
When Harbaugh said he envisions Kelechi Osemele playing left guard alongside Eugene Monroe, he gave a tacit early endorsement to the guys battling for the starting right tackle job.
Osemele played right tackle as a rookie in 2012 and could always go back to the position if needed; the Ravens would just have to find another left guard, and they already have candidates on hand, including Will Rackley, a 2013 starter in Jacksonville.
But it sounds as if Osemele is being penciled in at left guard. "That's the direction we're heading right now," Harbaugh said.
In other words, the coaches are satisfied enough with second-year guys Rick Wagner and Ryan Jensen, who are battling for the right tackle job, that they aren't considering moving Osemele into the mix.
For the record, Harbaugh did say things can always change.
The best play I saw involved receiver Torrey Smith making an acrobatic midair adjustment along the sideline to beat cornerback Jimmy Smith to a back-shoulder, jump-ball toss from Flacco – the kind Flacco used to throw to Anquan Boldin. Both players went up for the ball, and Torrey Smith came down with it and sprinted to the end zone.
Jimmy Smith exacted revenge a few minutes later when he jumped a crossing route, intercepted Flacco and ran it back for a touchdown.