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Late For Work 8/11: Never Seen Anything Like It


Never Seen Anything Like It

Joint practices are nothing new. Thirteen NFL teams are doing it this summer.

But none can compare to the Ravens and 49ers.

"I've been to my fair share of camps, in places all over the United States, but never seen anything quite like this (one of the practice fields had the 49ers logo painted in the end zone, for goodness sake; you can't ask for any more hospitality than that)," wrote's Jason La Canfora.

"For two teams to be able to share a relatively limited space, for this amount of time, after having just played a preseason game against each other, speaks to the unparalleled respect between the organizations, and the obvious bond shared by their head coaches."


Imagine 180 players – from two teams that battled in the Super Bowl 18 months ago – share the same building, field, cafeteria and even showers. They are pounding each other on the field, but have somehow managed to show a mutual respect throughout.

It's a balance of class and civility with intensity and physicality.  

How are they pulling it off?

"[The head coaches] both spoke extensively to their teams ahead of this trip, and during it, about wanting to extend that respect and brotherhood between the locker room as they share relatively tight quarters during the work days.

"Having two teams that practice this hard and play this physically – and this long, with Saturday's session going for three hours – could lead to tempers flaring, but outright fighting won't be tolerated. There is every expectation this will be highly efficient and effective work for both teams. That's what Saturday was, with players helping one another up and no instances of pushing and shoving. But bodies were certainly colliding Saturday. There is no cutting and no tackling to the ground, but this was definitely football being played, at a high pace, with intent. … Kudos to all involved for pulling it off."

Keeping An Eye On Texans QB Case Keenum

La Canfora believes there's still a chance for a shakeup at the Ravens backup quarterback spot.

The biggest discussion at the position has centered on whether the Ravens will keep one or two backups with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Keith Wenning.

There's another potential outcome if the Texans part ways with backup Case Keenum.

"If the Texans opt to trade or cut Case Keenum, and keep just two quarterbacks on their roster, I can't imagine the Ravens wouldn't inquire," La Canfora wrote.

"It's been up and down for Ravens back-up Tyrod Taylor, while Keenum already knows this system inside out from his time with Baltimore Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak in Houston. The Texans got a linebacker from Atlanta for backup TJ Yates; Keenum would be valued higher than that."

Taylor continues to have uneven performances in camp, according to reports. He did deliver a couple long touchdown passes wide receivers Michael Campanaro, Marlon Brown and Jace Davis.

In team drills over the weekend, Taylor didn't take off running with the ball, and instead stood in the pocket. It's rare to see that from the athletic and speedy quarterback, which makes The Sun's Jon Meoli think that was a specific plan.

"After he ran the ball five times and was sacked three times Thursday, quarterback Tyrod Taylor appeared to be under clear instructions not to tuck the ball and run Saturday," Meoli wrote. "He didn't have much success through the air, though. A few big plays aside, Taylor tended to speed through his reads and settle on his checkdown receiver, who typically was covered."

Can't Get Rid Of Steve Smith


Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith is still using the Carolina Panthers as motivation after the team cut him this offseason.

A fan wearing a purple Smith Ravens jersey was spotted at the Panthers' Bank of America stadium at their first preseason game. It didn't go unnoticed.

"89sr is still in the building. .. No matter how hard you try still can't get rid of me.... lol," Smith tweeted with the picture to the right (mobile users tap "View in browser" at the top of the page).

Smith has been nothing short of phenomenal since he came to Baltimore. Nobody works harder, and he consistently makes tough catches, both underneath and over the top on long bombs. He is fueled by critics who don't think he has enough left in his 35-year-old legs to produce at a high level.

After watching Smith at practice, MMQB's Greg A. Bedard is not one of those critics.

"Smith is flat-out amazing," Bedard tweeted this weekend. "Looks even better than when I saw him 2 weeks ago. Made 4 or 5 ridiculous catches."

Baltimore has embraced their new bombastic receiver, and he is embracing the city. He's even expanding his wardrobe to include the Baltimore Orioles.

"It's been yrs since I've rep a non-LA or Cali hat.. I'm easing into it. #CharmCity  but still #caliboy," he tweeted.


Getting Thin On Defensive Line

Once considered a position of great depth, the defensive line is now getting thin with two season-ending injuries.

After the Ravens lost defensive end Brent Urban to an ACL tear, they will likely now lose Kapron Lewis-Moore for the season with an Achilles tendon injury suffered Sunday.

"[D]efensive end has become a concern for the Baltimore Ravens a little more than two weeks into training camp," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Suddenly, both players expected to rotate with defensive end Chris Canty probably won't see the field this season."

The Ravens will likely turn to DeAngelo Tyson, who was Canty's back up last year. But Tyson is listed as the No. 2 nose tackle on the depth chart, so if he moves to defensive end, then either undrafted rookie Derrick Hopkins or Terrence Cody (PUP) will back up first-year starter Brandon Williams. Pernell McPhee could potentially move back to defensive end from outside linebacker.

But depth at the position is a big enough concern that The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson says the Ravens may look for potential answers outside the building.

"The Ravens have been scouring the market for another cornerback for several weeks. They may now need to add defensive end to their list of needs," Wilson wrote.

As for Lewis-Moore, it is a crushing blow. He's been working a long time on a return from an ACL tear suffered in his last game of his college career, and was having a stand-out training camp. He "sobbed loudly" as he was loaded into the cart to take him inside the team facility, per Wilson.

"The way he went down, you knew. You never heard a man scream that way," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "You knew something was wrong. It's kind of tough to even speak about it because of what he went through last year, coming back and making headlines now of being a significant piece of what we've got going on. And then to have it give out on a simple play like that, it's really unfortunate, but the team is going to stay behind him. Hopefully, he makes a speedy recovery."

Suggs Has His Hands Full, Dumervil Has His Way

You're not going to see a better matchup.

Two colossal titans have been clashing the last couple of days: Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and 49ers left tackle Joe Staley. The 2013 Pro Bowlers aren't taking it easy on each other in the joint Ravens-49ers practices.

"Watching Suggs and Staley face off was fun," tweeted Bedard.

"You're not going to find too much of a better tackle than Staley," Suggs said. "He's definitely one of the premier tackles. He's one of the best tackles in the league, and it's phenomenal to get to work against the guy every day. They do so many things on offense. You really have to be disciplined. You have to be technically sound. It's been a very beneficial camp for me that way."

Per Hensley, Suggs couldn’t get past Staley in practice Sunday.

But things were different on the other side of the line.

"Elvis Dumervil had his way with backup right tackle Jonathan Martin," Hensley wrote.

Added Bedard: "49ers RT Jonathan Martin was smoked twice by Elvis Dumervil in one-on-ones. Later, Suggs put Martin on his rear. Harbaugh replaced him."

Osemele Crushed Defender To Ground x 3

Kelechi Osemele continues to be a monster on the field.

Since returning from back surgery, the Ravens guard is making his presence on the offensive line known. Just ask 49ers defensive tackle Tank Carradine.

"Like he's done for most of camp, Osemele was crushing defensive linemen," wrote Hensley. "Osemele knocked 49ers defensive tackle Tank Carradine to the ground three times during one session of team drills."

Webb 'Itching' To Return To Action

With cornerback Lardarius Webb being sidelined since the second day of training camp, one wonders if his back injury isn't progressing.

But the Ravens have said from the start that they are taking things slow with Webb, and La Canfora reports the sixth-year veteran is just fine and is chomping at the bit to return.

"The Ravens have been taking every precaution with top cornerback Lardarius Webb, who is out with a back issue, but from all I've heard he is doing well," La Canfora wrote. "He has been itching to get back to practice but, with corner a position of great depth and Webb a proven commodity, the team will take no chances."

Quick Hits

  • "Wow, Joe," wrote Meoli. "Joe Flacco made another of his jaw-dropping throws during 11-on-11 drills [Saturday] when he scrambled to his left and, with a defender in his face, threw 60 yards downfield to Marlon Brown. Brown got behind a pair of defenders, the ball hit him in stride, and he strolled in for a touchdown. Again, Flacco hasn't lost his deep-ball touch in the predominantly underneath passing game the Ravens have run."
  • "I’ve seen enough," Meoli added. "The Ravens' first-team offense, and particularly the passing game, was bad Sunday. One particularly poor stretch was a three-play sequence when Flacco had a pass dropped, then one intercepted, then another dropped in the end zone. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones dropped a ball right on his hands on a quick slant, then on the following play, 49ers cornerback Dontae Johnson jumped a route for a pick-six. Flacco followed it up with a deep ball that hit wide receiver Deonte Thompson in stride, but it went through his hands." [The Baltimore Sun]
  • "Franks finally rises," wrote Meoli. "Veteran cornerback Dominique Franks had been languishing with the third-team defense after missing the first few practices of camp because of failed conditioning tests. That changed Sunday, when Franks was elevated to the second-team at cornerback. He earned applause from the first-team defense when he was alone in the flat with 49ers receiver Kassim Osgood on a third-down play and forced him out of bounds before the yard needed." [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Running back [Lorenzo Taliaferrointernal-link-placeholder-3]'s stock is rising.  [The Baltimore Sun]
  • "Asa Jackson gained an early edge over Chykie Brown for the Baltimore Ravens' No. 3 cornerback spot for one simple reason: He knows how to play the ball," wrote Hensley. [ESPN] 
  • @torreysmithwr: Tj got to meet @vernondavis85 and @missiletrainingtoday #terpfam #ravensnation [Instagram]
  • @ravens: The #HarBros weren't the only ones having a family reunion today. Flacco took a lap with his favorite receiver after practice. #RavensCamp #Ravens #RavensNation [Instagram]
  • @zobot_34 [running back Lorenzo Taliaferro]: Tears of joy came down my face last* *night because I worked hard and chased my dream. It's a blessing to become a blessing [Instagram]
  • @Ravens: Decisions decisions for Jack Harbaugh at lunch. He opted for plastic. #Neutral #HarbCamp [Twitter]
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