In order to be good at being tricky, you have to practice being tricky.
That's the thinking Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has as the Ravens approach their first of five preseason games beginning Thursday night in Canton, Ohio.
The Ravens have worked on a bunch of different creative offensive plays in training camp practice to see what could work, but it's not quite the same as testing them against another team.
So the question is, will Baltimore show some of its cards in the preseason in order to prepare to use some trickery in the regular season?
"There are two philosophies to the thing, and I've done it both ways: where you show very little, and so they don't quite know what to prepare for, or you show them so much that they have a hard time preparing for it," Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Monday.
"We've got five games, and it's hard not to show much and give the fellas a chance to have some success. So, we've got to show a little bit here throughout this preseason."
The most exciting trickery, at least for fans and media, is plays when veteran Joe Flacco and rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson are on the field at the same time. In Saturday's practice, Jackson threw a touchdown pass to Flacco.
"I'll tell you what: both of them did a pretty good job on that, didn't they?" Mornhinweg said with a grin. "We'll see where that goes."
QBs Coach James Urban Is Impressing in His First Year
For the past three years, Mornhinweg has been in charge of the Ravens quarterbacks.
Mornhinweg still is in charge, indirectly, this year, but Morhinweg's job changed with the arrival of Quarterbacks Coach James Urban. Senior Offensive Assistant Craig Ver Steeg is also still involved in coaching up the signal-callers, but it's Urban's chief responsibility.
On Monday, Mornhinweg talked about the job Urban has done so far and how it's impacted his job as offensive coordinator.
"He's taken the bull by the horns and run with it and done an outstanding job," Mornhinweg said. "I'm trying not to be in [the quarterbacks room] as much. It's hard, but I'm trying very, very hard to do that."
Mornhinweg said Urban's arrival has also freed him up to do some other things. The Ravens have shown more creativity on offense during training camp, though that's partly because of the personnel now at the coaches' disposal.
"I've coached coordinator and coached the quarterbacks several different times," Mornhinweg said. "It is a long, hard grind when you're doing it that way. Now, not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but it certainly gives you a little more time and a big-picture look at things."
Ravens Defense Is Getting a Good Test
While fans are excited about the offense's improvement this offseason are exciting, it's also helping those on the other side of the ball.
With Flacco sidelined by back pains last offseason, the defense dominated practice. While that's good for the defense on the surface, it wasn't the best way to get it ramped up for the regular season.
In this year's training camp, however, the defense is getting a much tougher test, particularly through the air.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had a strong practice Monday after a couple tougher days Saturday and Thursday in which he allowed several deep completions. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said seeing Humphrey bounce back is "why I wasn't concerned."
"You know what the good thing is? The way that '5' [Flacco] is throwing the football too," Martindale said. "He's throwing it in spots, and same thing with all the quarterbacks, Lamar [Jackson], all of them. We got some receivers who are going up and making some plays. So it's a great challenge for us too.
"It helps us – it really does. It helps us because the offense is giving us difficult looks as well. With Joe being back there, Lamar being back there, with all the different things they are doing."
Rookie Punter/Kicker Kaare Vedvik Is Intriguing
With Pro Bowlers Justin Tucker and Sam Koch, the Ravens don't have a competition at kicker and punter, but they do have yet another intriguing leg at camp with undrafted rookie Kaare Vedvik.
Vedvik, who hails from Norway, has a huge leg. That much was evident when he drilled a 67-yard field goal during practice. On Monday, Head Coach John Harbaugh set up a game-winning kick scenario from about 40 yards out. Vedvick nailed it to end practice.
What's most interesting about the Marshall product is that the Ravens originally recruited him as a punter, but he may be just as good a kicker.
"After having worked with him now for a few months, he's really demonstrating that he's also a placekicker," Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said.
"Now that we're this far down the road, we're working on both and we're going to continue to work on both. Where he ends up playing – whether it's punter or placekicker – still remains to be seen."
Rosburg said the decision will be left to Vedvick. The Ravens will let him do both during their preseason games. Rosburg pointed out that Tucker punted and kicked in college, but it became clear that his future was in placekicking.
Vedvick has a chance to prove himself to make another team like former Ravens kickers Wil Lutz, Graham Gano and Steven Hauschka have all done before him. Or he could punt and kick in the CFL.
"I don't think he's going to be doing both in the National Football League – unless the rules change and we're fighting that tooth and nail," Rosburg said. "But he could do it in a league that only had one specialist certainly. We're going to see where it takes us. It's a fun ride right now."