Smith Jaws With Arrington After Brief Scare
Last night's practice at M&T Bank Stadium in front of 22,000 fans had fireworks – literally and figuratively.
There was an actual laser and fireworks show while blasting Seven Nation Army over the speakers after the team finished practice and signed autographs for screaming fans.
There were also a few fireworks between wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and recently-acquired cornerback Kyle Arrington during 11-on-11 drills.
Smith was briefly hobbled after a collision with Arrington when the corner "aggressively" tried to break up a pass on a jump ball down the sideline. Some jawing between the two ensued.
"It's been an uneventful start of training camp in terms of extra-curricular activities for Steve Smith Sr., but things heated up a bit when the fiery wide receiver exchanged words with cornerback Kyle Arrington," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli and Jeff Zrebiec.
"Smith was seemingly annoyed that Arrington made too much contact with him while breaking up a pass. Arrington apologized, but Smith waved him off and the two continued to jaw."
The only thing that surprises me about the first skirmish of training camp is that it took so long to happen. As my colleague Garrett Downing said, somebody is bound to snap during the long dog days of camp. And this was nothing compared to the wild punches Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was throwing this past weekend. Smith and Arrington's disagreement was only verbal, and never got close to a physical altercation.
In the end, Smith avoided an injury scare and missed little practice time. He went back out on the field and later reeled in a touchdown pass against – guess who – Arrington. And instead of his patented ball spin, Smith tossed the ball into the stands for good measure.
Arrington, a seven-year veteran, also kept his focus after the heated exchange and continued with a strong practice, later breaking up an end zone pass intended for Kamar Aiken. The former Patriot has left a strong overall impression in just five practice sessions.
"I really like what I have seen from Kyle Arrington as an outside corner," wrote Russell Street Report's Dev Panchwagh. "He has played physical and hasn't given up much space in coverage."
Tucker And Williams Steal The Show
Who got the biggest fan ovation Monday night?
The kicker, naturally.
"Your average kicker doesn't often steal the show. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker did just that Monday at M&T," wrote Meoli.
Tucker began a sequence of four field-goal attempts, starting at the 33-yard line and then slowly moving back from there. Success from 33. Good from 44. Another converted from 51. With each converted field goal, the cheers grew louder and louder.
Then came a bomb from 64 yards, and Tucker nailed it. Had he done that in an actual game, it would have tied an NFL record.
"[T]he crowd of 22,111 showered him with the loudest cheers of the otherwise subdued night," wrote Meoli.
"His deep, range-testing kicks in the team's open practices are some of the most captivating moments of the showcase, rare but deserved attention for a specialist who means more to the fans — and potentially to his team — than the average kicker."
Meanwhile, second-round tight end Max Williams had perhaps his best practice of training camp, and it came in front of the biggest audience yet. He also got one of the loudest cheers of the night when he beat linebacker Arthur Brown in the middle of the field to snag a pass and sprinted to the end zone.
You can see both Tucker's bomb and Williams' score in the CSNBaltimore.com video below (mobile users tap "View in browser" at the top of the page to watch).
Dennis Pitta Gets Warm Reception
While tight end Dennis Pitta is on the physically unable to perform list and can't fully practice with his teammates, fans reminded him that he's not forgotten.
They gave him a "warm reception" with an ovation.
Pitta was running routes with a coach before the team took the field, and stayed out there with his tight ends position group throughout the night. Pitta is still working back from his second hip injury, and can join training camp practices at any time if the doctors clear him. If Pitta remains on the PUP once the season starts, he'll have to wait until Week 6 to be eligible to play.
Ravens Get Rare Monday Night On Home Field
It wasn't exactly the Monday night experience Head Coach John Harbaugh has been seeking from the league all these years, but the Ravens did finally get to play on their home turf Monday night.
It just wasn't an actual game.
Since 2006, Baltimore has played a league-high 11 "Monday Night Football" games on the road, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley. The 11 more than doubles 20 other NFL teams.
So when Hensley asked Harbaugh about finally getting to play at home on Monday, the head coach flashed a grin.
"That's a very brilliant observation I would say," Harbaugh told Hensley. "When is the last time we were here on Monday night? This is one and counting if the league is paying attention. I know you hear me.
"You look at the numbers. Monday night is valuable. It's hard to travel. It's hard to come back the next week and play. We have a tough schedule. It doesn't really matter in the end. You have to go play where they tell you. We're going to go show up and we'll be there, whether it's 8:27 on Monday night or 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. We will be at every single game, I promise you that."
Hensley: Elam's Injury Not Critical To Ravens If They Stay Healthy
Word on the street is that safety Matt Elam suffered a full biceps tear and will require season-ending surgery.
The Ravens have yet to confirm such reports, but Harbaugh admitted he's not optimistic. Even though team brass had publicly challenged Elam to play better this season, it's never good to lose a former first-round pick. It hurts depth at a thin position, and stunts the development of a promising young player.
"Before you say the Ravens didn't need Elam, you should check the team's depth chart," Hensley wrote. "Elam represented the Ravens' best insurance policy."
That said, Hensley believes the Ravens can absorb the loss … as long as the others stay healthy.
"[I]t's not a major blow to the Baltimore defense," Hensley wrote. "That is, if the Ravens can avoid a series of injuries that devastated their secondary a year ago.
"Elam was going to be the Ravens' No. 3 safety at best. He wasn't going to beat out Will Hill for the strong safety spot. It was going to be hard for the Ravens to put their trust in Elam so soon after he struggled mightily in the divisional playoff game in New England."
Haloti Ngata Starts Training Camp On NFI List
Former Ravens defensive star Haloti Ngata was not on the field when his new Detroit Lions began training camp.
After acquiring Ngata via a trade, the Lions team website announced that the 10-year veteran was placed on the active/non-football injury (NFI) list. He can be activated and re-join his teammates in practice at any time during camp.
"Ngata's conditioning and readiness for the start of training camp was a popular topic around the Ravens the past couple of years," wrote Zrebiec. "Now, it has come up with Ngata's new team.
"Ngata's recent history - he failed his conditioning test with the Ravens in 2012, sustaining a hamstring injury in the process - makes the latest developments worth a mention."
The Lions didn't specify what his injury is, but NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport says it's a hamstring injury and it's possible he could be back by the end of the week. It sounds like this isn't a major issue, but Ravens fans will be very interested to see how Ngata's season goes to better judge whether the trade turned out to be a wise move.