Ravens' New Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis Opens Eyes in First Practice
About 45 minutes into Monday's practice session, quarterback Thaddeus Lewis busted through the double doors of the Ravens' facility and jogged onto the field.
He had just signed with Baltimore earlier that day, and was immediately thrown into the fire. His seven years of experience in the league was put on display.
"Before long, he was leading the third-team offense," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "On his best throw of the day, he rolled to his right and hit undrafted rookie wide receiver C.J. Board in stride down the middle of the field."
"Almost a year removed from sustaining a torn ACL that wiped out his 2016 season, [Lewis] moved well in his debut with the Ravens as their newest quarterback," added The Sun's Edward Lee.
Lewis was brought to Baltimore, his sixth NFL stop since signing with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted rookie in 2010, to replace Dustin Vaughan, who "struggled in the preseason opener and dropped to the bottom of the depth chart," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Consider Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg impressed with Lewis' debut.
"Man alive, it looks like he's fully recovered from the knee," Mornhinweg said. "He's got a big arm. He looks like he's really accurate. You could tell that he's got some experience under his belt. Really smart young man as well, and then he's got some moving ability.
"So he had a heck of a workout, and then he practiced pretty well today. I don't know if you saw, but with the physical and the paperwork and all that, he came out and a couple periods into it, boom, put him in, let's go, and he performed very, very well today."
Lewis, 29, stayed after practice for an extra 30 minutes practicing with quarterback Josh Woodrum and other offensive players.
The Ravens have shuffled through quarterbacks since training camp began, with Lewis becoming the third to sign with the team.
While Ryan Mallett has struggled with consistency, Lewis is not considered a contender for the top backup role behind quarterback Joe Flacco.
"[It] was likely a move to upgrade the No. 3 spot," wrote Hensley.
That said, if Flacco has a hiccup in his recovery from a back injury, Lewis' experience (he started five games with the Buffalo Bills in 2013, throwing for 1,092 yards and four touchdowns) could be good to have on the team.
"If Flacco's back acts up again, Lewis will provide added insurance for the Ravens," added CBSSports.com's Kevin Skiver.
Does Offense Really Have Enough Time to Get Ready for Week 1?
With constant shuffling on the offensive line, injuries at receiver and Flacco not participating in training camp practices, Mornhinweg was asked yesterday whether his unit will have enough time to build chemistry and be ready for the season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.
That's only three-and-half weeks away, and Mornhinweg said it looks like his squad will have "just enough time."
But he didn't indicate when he'll get several of his key starters back, including Flacco, starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and receiver Breshad Perriman.
"Ravens players and coaches insist there's plenty of time left to build some chemistry and continuity on offense. But really, what else are they going to say?" asked Zrebiec.
"It has to be extremely hard to evaluate the offense when there's so many missing or moving pieces. How can the team get a true read on the wide receivers when Ryan Mallett has struggled mightily and the team's de facto No. 2 quarterback, Dustin Vaughan, played so poorly in the preseason opener that he was quickly yanked and has since been released? Can we truly gauge whether the running game has improved when the first-team offensive line changes on a seemingly daily basis?"
To sum up the line's woes, all you need to know is James Hurst has gone from the starting right tackle, to the primary reserve right tackle (Ravens signed Austin Howard), to the starting left guard (Alex Lewis will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery) and now to the stand-in left tackle (Stanley has missed two practices for undisclosed reasons) all in the past week.
So how long will the Ravens offense need to practice together before it heads to Cincy?
"If quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver Breshad Perriman and Stanley are back practicing at this time next week, there is still enough time," Zrebiec wrote. "But that's a big 'if,' as very little this summer has gone according to plan for the Ravens."
Jeremy Zuttah Will Visit Colts This Week
The reported contract negotiations that were "heating up" with former Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah* *may be cooling back down.
That's because Zuttah will visit the Indianapolis Colts this week, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.
Indianapolis seems to have similar issues to the ones the Ravens are facing this summer.
"The Colts not only have questions about their quarterback, but about the guy who is responsible for getting the ball to him," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Darin Gantt. "And they're making a move to potentially shore up one of those spots."
Will Ravens Have to Start Investing More Into Backup QB Spot?
Given Flacco's durability – he never missed a game until his eighth year in the league when he tore his ACL – the Ravens' have not had to pump sizable assets into the backup position.
Tyrod Taylor, a sixth-round quarterback, was the primary backup for four years and the team hasn't spent much money replacing him.
As Flacco enters his 10th season with an ailing back, Zrebiec wonders whether the Ravens will need to change their strategy.
"Make no mistake, the Ravens know Mallett's flaws," he wrote. "But since drafting Tyrod Taylor in 2011, they have shown a reluctance to invest assets (money or high draft picks) in their backup-quarterback position. Mallett makes $2 million, which is mid-level backup-quarterback money.
"… So, while they haven't been punished yet for not investing a lot in a backup quarterback, a case could be made that the position should become a bigger priority with Flacco now 32 years old and having taken a ton of hits over the years."
Injury-Plagued 2016 Draft Class Superstitious?
The injuries hitting the Ravens this preseason are well-documented. But Hensley wrote about how the injury bug is biting one group in particular.
"That terrible run of luck has now taken its toll on the Ravens' 2016 draft class," he wrote. "Seven of the 11 players taken in that draft by Baltimore either spent last season on injured reserve or will go on IR to start this year."
The seven includes second-round pick Kamalei Correa (Week 16 last year), third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi (training camp last year), fourth-round pick Tavon Young (will be placed on IR this year), fourth-round pick Lewis (will be placed on IR this year), fourth-round pick Kenneth Dixon (will be placed on IR this year), fourth-round pick Willie Henry (Week 11 last year) and sixth-round pick Maurice Canady (will likely be placed on IR this year, but could return later).
"I would say maybe I'm superstitious," Stanley told Hensley. "Definitely have to find the cause of that. That'd be a good thing to be fixed."