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Late For Work 8/14: Jeremy Zuttah Stands Out In Run Blocking


Zuttah Stands Out In Run Blocking

One of the most encouraging takeaways from the Ravens preseason opener was the return of a physical down-hill running game.

The team finished with 48 runs for an impressive 237 yards, the bulk of which came against San Francisco's second- and third-team defenses. But the starters were productive on the ground too, a stark contrast from last year.

It was a team effort, but who specifically stood out in run blocking? One person won't surprise you, but the other was a newcomer who made a difference.

"[F]our starting offensive linemen earned positive grades as run blockers," wrote Pro Football Focus' Rick Drummond. "Leading that group were perennial standout right guard, Marshal Yanda, and the former Buccaneer center, [Jeremy Zuttahinternal-link-placeholder-0], both finishing brief nights with +1.1 run-blocking marks on five run plays.

"It was a nice Baltimore beginning for Zuttah as he tries to improve upon what Gino Gradkowski showed as the Ravens' center last year while filling the shoes of retired stalwart, Matt Birk. Gradkowski replaced Zuttah and played the next 64 snaps against San Francisco, ending with a +1.0 run-blocking grade of his own."

Campanaro's Awkward Run-In With Owner


The two letters I learned the first day I was hired by the Ravens.

But apparently nobody told rookie Michael Campanaro – or his father – about them.

S.B. are the initials for Steve Bisciotti, and they are painted in the parking spot closest to the Ravens' entrance to reserve it for the Ravens owner.

(By the way, there are several reserved spots at the facility including Bisciotti's, Ravens President Dick Cass, Head Coach John Harbaugh and General Manager Ozzie Newsome.)   

Campanaro learned that lesson the hard way when a team official approached him during warmups for Monday's practice. Campanaro was asked where his father was because he parked in Steve’s spot, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

"Steve who?" Campanaro asked. 

"Steve Bisciotti," the team official responded.

Oh, THAT Steve. Whoops! 

Bisciotti attended practice that day to observe the final session of the Ravens-49ers joint practices. Luckily, Campanaro's father was able to move the car before he arrived.

But the embarrassment wasn't entirely avoided.

Hensley wrote a small blog on about the funny parking mishap, which Campanaro's father saw and subsequently posted his awesome defense on Twitter: Parents are rookies to!!!! Btw the SB is faded and needs to be more visible!!! Lol — Attilio Campanaro (@CoachTill) August 11, 2014

And the rookie's reaction to the whole thing?

"I was like, I'm out here spinning my wheels," Campanaro told Hensley Wednesday. "They're going to be calling for my playbook when I get back into the locker room." 

If reports are accurate as to how well the seventh-round wide receiver is performing, nobody will be asking for the playbook anytime soon. He's been impressing coaches with speed and route-running ability.

His strong performance in the battle for one of the final receiver roster spots continued Wednesday, motivating Russell Street Reports' Brian Bower to call Campanaro Steve Smith Sr.'s mini-me. Campanaro liked the distinction enough to retweet it.

Steve Smith Sr. And his "mini me" counterpart @MikeCamp3 put on a receiving display for much of the afternoon. #Ravens — Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) August 13, 2014

"The nifty slot receiver was consistently targeted on underneath routes and was highly active all day," added Russell Street Reports' Dev Panchwagh. "He absolutely owned the short little drags and underneath crossing routes in the 5-to-10 yard area.

"Not only did Campanaro display sure hands, he continued to be electric as a route runner. During a one-on-one matchup against cornerback Tramain Jacobs, Campanaro ran such a biting double route that Jacobs was turned inside-out and committed a panic hold to keep the receiver from breaking wide open for a touchdown. His quickness coming in and out of his breaks is a completely different element than what the other receivers offer."

One WR Hurting Chances, Others Shining

Campanaro is one of several young receivers trying to make the Ravens active roster, and it seems the pack is starting to separate, leaving one behind.

"Wide receiver Deonte Thompson is hurting his chances of making the team with each passing day," wrote Hensley. "He has to be the unofficial leader in drops this training camp."

Thompson dropped a pass again Wednesday when Joe Flacco hit him in the chest perfectly in stride on a 55-yard post route in the end zone, according to multiple reports.

Meanwhile, Kamar Aiken continues his strong training camp. Many dub him one of the leaders for the No. 5 spot along with Campanaro, but undrafted rookie Jeremy Butler isn't giving up.

"Butler really showed the full repertoire as a route runner today," wrote Panchwagh. "He worked inside on slants, and outside on back-shoulder routes and comebacks. He displayed the power to dislodge the [cornerback] and get separation on a slant. And on sideline routes, he showed off his body control to maintain positioning. On one particular play, Butler was able to control a wide pass with his fingertips, plucking the ball away from fellow rookie Tramain Jacobs."

Other receivers in the mix for one of the final wideout spots are LaQuan Williams, Jace Davis and Mike Willie.

Tony Romo Will Play vs. Ravens

The Dallas Cowboys have made it clear that starting quarterback Tony Romo will make his preseason debut against the Ravens Saturday.

Romo was sidelined in last Thursday's preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers. It was a precautionary measure on the heels of his second back surgery in as many years.

But Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said Romo will see a few series Saturday, per Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News.

That means Terrell Suggs and the Ravens defensive front will get the first crack at hitting Romo since his return – or at least the second. The quarterback says he isn't too worried about it though.

"I took a hit from DeMarco [Murray] the other day and I've gotten back, so I feel like I've gotten that out the way," Romo said, per ESPN. "The second hit is just nothing."

Suggs Compares Mosley to Patrick Willis

You can't help but notice rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley when you watch him play. His athleticism, playmaking ability and intelligence stand out that much.

Early reviewers say if he continues on this path, he could find himself in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion, just like 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

And what do you know. Turns out, the former DROY is exactly who Mosely reminds Suggs of.

"Oh, he's very athletic and very smart," Suggs told Sports Illustrated. "He actually reminds me of the guy we've been practicing against the past couple days, No. 52 with San Francisco, Mr. [Patrick] Willis. Definitely, because when Willis came into the league, it just clicked for him right away. I definitely see some resemblance with Mosley. Very athletic, intelligence for the game, and a quick study."

Suggs participated in a 10-part question and answer. Check out the full thing here.

Michael Oher 'Tired Of Getting Disrespected'

Ravens tackle Michael Oher was never fully appreciated by fans in Baltimore. The durable Oher started every single game of his five years in Baltimore, and he switched between the left and right side without complaint despite the difficulty.

Now with the Tennessee Titans, Oher still doesn't feel appreciated. Media and fans are focused on first-round offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, and Oher didn't take kindly to a reporter asking if he was in danger of losing his starting role to the rookie.

"I don't know anything about any speculation because I know what type of player I am," Oher told the Tennessean. "I'm kind of tired of getting disrespected by a lot of people who don't know anything about the work I put in and how hard I work, and the love and passion I have for this game."

Quick Hits

  • Steve Smith Sr. is uncomfortable, and he seems to like it. … "This will be my fourth offense and this a totally different offense that I've learned. The last time I've done a West Coast offense was my rookie year and I struggled to get that. But it's really challenged me and I really enjoy the challenge. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. I'm not comfortable about doing it and so that means I have to put in that hard work, those after-hours studies. I've got flash cards. I'm trying to hone it in. You always hear about older guys going to new teams and they don't fit in because of whatever reason. I want to be able to fit in. The ability and capacity to retain information and do it at a high level will not be the excuse." []
  • Tyrod Taylor got tutoring on West Coast offense from Jeff Garcia. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • "One criticism of third quarterback Keith Wenning has been his arm strength," wrote Hensley. "He is now throwing the ball more decisively and with more pop. There was an intermediate throw to Mike Willie where you could hear the ball hit the wide receiver's hands." [ESPN]

Thank you guys for all the tweets, texts and calls over the past few days since my injury. It's been tough but I will be back to 100% soon. — Kapron Lewis-Moore (@KLM_89) August 13, 2014

Bright side of this that Achilles doesn't take as long as a ACL.  — Kapron Lewis-Moore (@KLM_89) August 13, 2014

Cant wait to see Ravens defense in first game of season. That front seven is going to be very active. — Mike Preston (@MikePrestonSun) August 13, 2014

Matt Elam said he had a 'terrible' rookie season, said he expects a much better performance this year — Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) August 13, 2014

RT @Orioles: Victory tastes sweet. @SimplyAJ10 #Birdland — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) August 14, 2014

RT @StevenTylerRox what was that funny? Lol She asked if we could get married...I said no..she said "You can go now" — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) August 14, 2014

  • On this Throwback Thursday, we remember Steve Smith absolutely lighting up Denver defensive end Von Miller in a game against the Carolina Panthers. We've seen Smith catch just about every ball that comes his way in camp, but he shows off his (legal) monster blocking skills. [Cover 32 |YouTube]
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