Highs And Lows From Ravens' First Training Camp Practice
The intensity of camp will ramp up Saturday when the pads go on, giving us a better idea of where everyone stands, but there was no shortage of media from around Baltimore giving their opinions from the first day of training camp.
Below is a compilation of various lists from around the web, including stud and duds, winners and losers and overall observations …
Could quarterback Joe Flacco's first day back have gone any better? There's nothing better than an effortless 60-yard bomb to rookie wide receiver Chris Moore, who has never caught passes from Flacco before, to ease concerns.
The same ole Joe was out there. The arm was there. The cool demeanor was there.
Guess what wasn't there? A limp. Or any hesitation. No major signs of a season-ending injury other than a knee brace and a bright red jersey signaling to defenders to stay away.
"In his first full-team practice in 251 days, Flacco alleviated some concerns by showing off his strong arm and more elusiveness than anticipated," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Flacco showed some rust, but he was sharper than the other Ravens quarterbacks. He didn't look like a quarterback who missed the entire offseason and hadn't stepped on the field with the full team since late November. Flacco also didn't miss any of his reps during a 2½-hour practice when the heat index reached 98 degrees."
Added WNST's Luke Jones: "[He] did show some rust as he was picked off by Sheldon Price and nearly threw another interception to Shareece Wright, but the number of errant throws was no greater than you'd typically see in the first practice of the summer."
While Flacco makes rehabbing from ACL and MCL tears in eight months look easy, CSNMidAtlantic.com's Brad Jackson explained why Ravens fans shouldn't take Flacco's hard work for granted. It's a testament to his leadership and why the Ravens invested so much money in him this offseason to make him the face of the franchise.
"For him being out there, you have to give credit to how hard Joe has worked," Jackson said. "A lot of guys tend to go away … the fact that he's worked so hard in the offseason doing the treatment, doing the rehab, which is difficult, especially coming off two ligaments in your knee, to be able to come back Day 1 is a testament to how important it is to him and his hard work."
There were multiple options for the play of the day, but several reporters pointed to a Flacco-Pitta 30-yard connection that drew the loudest cheer from the 1,250 fans in attendance. Even safety Eric Weddle pointed it out as one of the plays from the offense that impressed him most.
Jones said watching the two together for the first time since 2014 conjured up memories of their Super Bowl XLVII run.
"Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch," added CSNMidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown. "Pitta's attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him. However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time."
I swear these two were born to play together.
Remember when we weren't sure if second-round pick Kamalei Correa was a serious contender for the inside linebacker starting role?
He was touted as a pass-rushing outside linebacker when drafted, but if healthy, the Ravens are stacked there. So why not give him an opportunity at a less-solidified spot? That's what they did during offseason practices, and it looks like he could stick.
Correa took reps both inside and outside, and he's proving he can play at both spots.
"If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens' top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1," wrote Brown.
Three Youngsters Taking Advantage of Opportunity
Second-year outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith is getting plenty of reps with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil on the sideline, and the youngster is taking full advantage.
"Za'Darius Smith could be in line for a huge season," tweeted WBAL's Gerry Sandusky.
Meanwhile, Darren Waller and Moore also took advantage of a thin receiver group while Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman are on the physically unable to play list. Waller is transitioning to tight end, but also got reps at wide receiver Thursday.
"Another possible play of the day was an athletic catch by Darren Waller on a fade route a few minutes after Pitta's," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jake Lourim.
Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.
The newly-signed veteran has looked so good in the Ravens' offseason practices leading into training camp that many view him as the starter of a deep group. But on Thursday, he seemed to have an off day.
"The free agent acquisition from New Orleans was not in the zone today, as he dropped two easy passes from Joe Flacco," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle P Barber. "The first just fell flat in his hands to the turf. On the second pass attempt nobody was near Watson on the inside curl route. He put his hands out and bobbled it twice before almost giving it away to the recovering defense man on the play."
Added Brown: "Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco's throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams."
The rookie fourth-round pick lands on this list not because of his play, but because he ended practice being helped off the field. He sustained a knee injury after being shoved out of bounds by rookie free-agent linebacker Patrick Onwuasor at the end of a run.
Luckily, it was just a brief scare as Head Coach John Harbaugh described it was a mild injury and Dixon is considered day-to-day.
The diagnosis isn't giving fans much comfort, however, because it reminds them of a similar experience from last year's first day of camp.
"Rapoport expects the Ravens to proceed with caution, which isn't a surprise after wide receiver Breshad Perriman missed all of last season with a knee injury that was initially described as being on the minor side," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.
Running Back Corps Suddenly Looking A Little Thin
Once considered one of the deepest position groups, the running back corps has been cut in half.
Lorenzo Taliaferro and Trent Richardson are both on the PUP, and now Dixon is sidelined. That leaves starter Justin Forsett, Buck Allen and Terrance West taking the reps.
"There was much discussion coming out of minicamps in June that the Ravens were going into training camp … with a running back-by-committee," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Don Markus. "That still might be the case, but the committee is currently a lot more exclusive."
"Though a depth chart won't be made public until prior to the first preseason game, Forsett is getting the majority of the reps with the first team while Allen is working with both the first and second team. West is backing them up."
Failed Conditioning Tests Keep Three From Practicing, Nine Total Absent
Cornerback Jerraud Powers and wide receivers Mike Wallace and Dobson Collins are listed on the non-football injury list because they have yet to pass the conditioning test. No player can practice without passing.
That makes nine total players absent on the day, including all six players still on PUP: Taliaferro (foot), Smith (Achilles), Perriman (left knee), Suggs (Achilles), Dumervil (foot) and Trent Richardson (knee).
UPDATE: Wallace is at Friday morning's practice, meaning he passed the conditioning test.