This will be Alejandro Villanueva's first season with the Ravens and his first year playing right tackle.
That's a major change for Villanueva, who spent the past six seasons starting every game at left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even for a two-time Pro Bowler with talent and experience, switching from left to right is a new way of looking at things, like getting used to a room after someone rearranges the furniture.
Villanueva is embracing the challenge at training camp, knowing he's someone the Ravens are depending on to help anchor the right side after trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs. Villanueva is using every day at training camp to increase his comfort level.
"It's definitely difficult for the motor system to adjust, but you keep following the same principles that you followed to play left tackle," Villanueva said. "You try to stick to those and just play based on principles and fundamentals and techniques, and those are the same for left and right."
Villanueva was given Wednesday and Thursday off, but Head Coach John Harbaugh has been pleased with what he has seen. After watching Villanueva compete against the Ravens for six seasons, Harbaugh knew Baltimore was getting a proven player who cares about his craft.
"It says a lot about the kind of player that he is," Harbaugh said. "He looks good. He gets better. He's such a hard worker. It matters so much to him. All football, all the time – it's all he's thinking about. So, I'm excited to see him play. I'm excited to see how he does this year."
Stay Tuned on Whether Lamar Jackson Will Play Saturday
Asked if Lamar Jackson would play Saturday night against the New Orleans Saints, Harbaugh said he had made a decision, but he did not reveal it.
"I have, but I'm not sharing any of that, probably," Harbaugh said.
"We have a rotation for every different person. Generally, we kind of balance it out among our starters. Every preseason game is pretty much the same, but for specific players, age-related, position-related, we'll approach it individually that way."
Jackson missed the first eight practices of training camp (Reserve/COVID-19), but enjoyed his best days throwing the ball since returning on Wednesday and Thursday.
Harbaugh Doesn't Expect New Taunting Rules to Impact Ravens
The NFL announced Tuesday that its rules against taunting will be enforced more strictly this season, including automatic ejection for a player who was flagged for taunting twice in one game. Harbaugh said it has not been necessary to address the team about changing its behavior, or toning down celebrations.
"We've been good about that," Harbaugh said. "We never really had that. If you watch our celebrations, there are really none that we've had to have coaching points on that I've seen. Our guys do it with each other. I think you want to celebrate in the spirit of the team, you celebrate together."
Then Harbaugh remembered the playoff game in January, when a group of Ravens players celebrated on the Tennessee Titans' midfield logo after Marcus Peters' game-clinching interception. That celebration was payback for the Titans gathering on the Ravens' logo prior to their game in November and the previous year in the playoffs, a move that didn't sit well with the Ravens.
"We don't have taunting; I haven't seen that," Harbaugh said. Then he smiled.
"Well, except for the one against Tennessee. I wasn't upset about that. I think we'll be fine."
Villanueva Compares Ravens Camp to Steelers Camp
The Ravens pride themselves on how they practice, and Villanueva can see why. He's enjoying his first training camp with Baltimore, but he admits that it's been challenging. He was asked Thursday to compare the Ravens' camp with the Steelers'.
"This training camp is tough," Villanueva said. "It's a challenging yet very rewarding training camp, because it truly brings you back to your roots of the hardest situation that you've ever been in, and you have to overcome it, and you have to focus on fundamentals, techniques and whatnot. So, it definitely reminds me of the good old college days of being really physical at practice, trying to win, try to beat the defense, and you really get yourself in shape for the battle, the best way you can."
Villanueva has not yet practiced with all of his new starting linemates. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) participated in the early portion of practice on Monday and Wednesday, but he still has not joined the team portion of practices, while right guard Kevin Zeitler (foot) has been out since last Tuesday. However, Villanueva still believes there is plenty of time to build chemistry.
"I think that the culture, the room, how everybody has come together, the expectations that we have for each other, all those things are being developed as we spend hours with Coach 'Joe D' (Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris)," Villanueva said. "So, from that standpoint, the offensive line has taken a huge leap over the last two weeks. We do feel that we know our assignments, that we know what is expected of us, and now it's time to finish the details to make sure that we're ready to go for the season."