Dez Bryant Catches Passes Before Today's Reported Workout
The Ravens have a day off from training camp practice today, but there is still reportedly some intriguing action at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant has his reported tryout today. Yesterday, he got in a workout with a former Baltimore-area high school star. and used it as an opportunity to show off.
The former Dallas Cowboys All-Pro caught passes from David Pindell, who was the 2014 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year at Oakland Mills High School before heading to UConn, where he led Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks with 1,139 rushing yards as a senior in 2018.
Bryant and Pindell got acquainted on Instagram this spring.
"I was following him on Instagram and he hit me up about throwing together after he saw one of my workout videos," Pindell told The Baltimore Sun's Brent Kennedy. "He actually invited me to Dallas in April to come throw to him, but I wasn't going on a plane at that time with everything going on with COVID.
"But then I saw on Twitter that he was coming in to Baltimore to workout with the Ravens so I figured why not hit him up and see what happens. He got back to me, said he was trying to get his feet wet a little and we met up today."
Pindell was impressed by what he saw from the 31-year-old Bryant, who suffered a torn Achilles in 2018 and has not played in an NFL game since 2017.
"He's big, he's in shape and he's moving well," Pindell said. "He can go up for the ball and he looks like he's still in his prime. For me, if he does what he did today, I don't see any reason why the Ravens wouldn't offer him."
Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich is among those who believes the Ravens should sign Bryant, despite a hot start from Miles Boykin at training camp.
"Bryant could be the final piece of the puzzle," Karpovich wrote. "GM Eric DeCosta has nothing to lose by signing him to a one-year deal."
Looking to Make Big Leap, Tyus Bowser Is Off to Strong Start
Tyus Bowser expressed confidence last month that he would have a breakout season in 2020, and the outside linebacker's performance in training camp thus far has been eye-opening.
A second-round pick in 2017 on the final season of his rookie contract, Bowser has been one of the standouts through three days of padded practices.
During yesterday's session, Bowser came off the edge in a pass-rushing situation and drove tight end Nick Boyle back into Lamar Jackson, who was knocked to the ground.
"Bowser was around the ball often Wednesday, pushing into the backfield and setting the edge against the run," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "He also bulldozed through offensive lineman Sean Pollard in a one-on-one pass rush drill."
Facing a make-or-break season last year, Bowser responded with career highs in both sacks (5.0, which was second on the team) and tackles (23). One of his goals for 2020 is to at least double his sack totals. If he achieves that lofty goal, Bowser would become the first Raven to record double-digit sacks in a season since Terrell Suggs had 11 in 2017.
The addition of veteran defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe should benefit Bowser, as their presence will make it more difficult for opponents to focus on neutralizing him (as well as second-year outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson).
If it all comes together, Ebony Bird's Richard Bradshaw believes the Ravens could lead the league in sacks after finishing 21st in that category last year.
"With the revamped defensive line and young, hungry edge-rushing core, we should see a significant increase in the sack department in 2020 for the Baltimore Ravens," Bradshaw wrote. "Leading the league isn't entirely out of the question, either; especially if they hit on all their moves. Look out for this new and improved group to put quarterbacks in the dirt regularly this year."
Speaking of Campbell, the five-time Pro Bowler hasn't wasted any time making his presence felt.
"Calais Campbell set the tone [yesterday] by sacking Lamar Jackson early in the 11-on-11 work," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "Campbell had his way with the interior of the offensive line all morning."
Jackson Lands Endorsement Deal With Oakley
To steal a line from Timbuk 3, Jackson's future's so bright he's gotta wear shades – and those shades are Oakleys. The reigning NFL MVP landed an endorsement deal with the sports eyewear company.
"Oakley has been a part of my journey since my youth football days – giving me vision, confidence and swagger," Jackson said in a press release. "Can't do much better than that – excited for what is next, the sky is the limit."
Jackson wore an Oakley visor for much of last season and is wearing a tinted version during practices this year. He's hoping to get clearance from the league to wear the visor during games.
Jackson joins Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James as NFL players who have signed endorsement deals with Oakley.
We already know Jackson looks good in sunglasses. He became a meme machine last season after cameras captured him rocking a pair of shades on the sideline late in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Oakley also announced a new partnership with the Ravens and will offer Ravens eyewear for fans.
What Is the Ceiling/Floor for Ravens' Win Total?
The Ravens and Chiefs have the highest ceiling/floor in the league this season, according to projections by the ESPN Stats & Information team. A 13-3 record is the best-case scenario for both teams, with a 9-7 mark being the worst-case scenario.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley said the biggest variable for the Ravens is whether they continue their dominance running the ball.
"Coming off a season in which it set the NFL's single-season record for most rushing yards in a season, Baltimore faces six of the eight-worst run defenses from last season," Hensley wrote. "Since quarterback Lamar Jackson took over as starter, the Ravens are 18-1 when they run the ball 33 or more times. But Baltimore is 1-4 when it totals fewer than 33 rushing attempts."
USA Today's Nate Davis believes the Ravens' ceiling is even higher than ESPN's projection. He predicted the Ravens to go 14-2 again and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, where he has them losing to the New Orleans Saints.
"Could they actually replicate last season's league-best record? It certainly helps to have the NFL's easiest schedule (Baltimore's opponents combined for a .438 winning percentage in 2019) while traveling a league-low 6,310 miles," Davis wrote. "Mix in rookies Patrick Queen and J.K. Dobbins and vet DL Calais Campbell – not to mention the fact that the other 31 teams didn't get a legit offseason to try and decode this record-setting offense – and everything could be falling into place for a Lombardi run."
Meanwhile, Sporting News forecasted the Ravens to finish 11-5 and win the division.
"Don't be fooled by the Ravens' three-game slide in our predictions," Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer wrote. "They are still in great shape offensively around Lamar Jackson, where they have more big-play flair both in the backfield and the receiving corps. Their front-seven changes on defense are also promising.
"This is a product of having a little record regression in a tougher division, but they still will be a solid No. 2 choice to win the AFC."