Watch out, because Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is closing in on full speed.
The Ravens have been easing their first-round wide receiver and his surgically-repaired foot into action this summer. Eighteen days after stepping onto the field for his first practice, Brown is definitely faster.
"We're giving him more every day and I think the plan was the right plan," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. "I think this past week we really saw a different gear from him. That's exciting."
When he made his practice debut, Brown was moving well but wasn't all the way back yet. He still had some rust to shake off. A Lisfranc foot injury isn't something to mess with, so the Ravens have tread lightly, limiting Brown's practice reps and giving him a day off last week.
Now the question will be whether Brown will ramp up to play in Thursday's third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The third preseason game is typically when the starters see their most extensive action, and the Ravens would like to get Brown and quarterback Lamar Jackson some game reps together before the regular opener in Miami on Sept. 8. Brown could play in the fourth preseason game, but Jackson will likely sit that one out.
While Roman said he is coming up with more ideas for how to use Brown after seeing him on the field, he feels the biggest thing for Brown at this point is to build chemistry with Jackson. Their timing on deep balls needs to be synced up.
"[Brown's] style is a little different," Roman said. "He can kick that gear in, so you better put some mustard on that ball."
Patrick Onwuasor Is Relaying Defensive Play-Calls
A common talking point in Baltimore last year was about who wore the mic'd up helmet on defense, and thus had the responsibility of relaying Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale's play-calls.
Last season, the job bounced between linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Eric Weddle. With both now elsewhere, Baltimore needed a new first communicator to step up. That person appears to be linebacker Patrick Onwuasor.
"It's been 'Peanut' all camp, all OTAs," Martindale said. "That's the direction that we're headed, but that can always change, too. That can be a gameplan-thing change."
The job is important, but communication is required across the entire defense – not just by the player wearing the mic. The Ravens' defense is a series of checks and movements to disguise intentions and provide flexibility. Thus, it's really on every player to communicate well.
"We've done a nice job with communicating," Martindale said. "We need to get better, it needs to be faster, it needs to be cleaner, all those things you say during training camp. But, once you get the whole team talking, it doesn't really matter who has the speaker in their helmet."
Cyrus Jones Is Ravens' Top Nickel, But Ravens Will Play Matchups
The Ravens haven't ruled Tavon Young (neck) out yet, but Cyrus Jones is ready to step up as the team's top nickel cornerback.
However, Baltimore won't just turn to one player to potentially replace Young. Martindale made it clear that the Ravens will "do some different things" with Young out.
"It's nothing that we haven't done in the past. We have a lot of guys who can step up and fill that spot," Martindale said.
"Cyrus is the No. 1 nickel right now. But, we'll just wait and see what happens when we gameplan it. Brandon Carr has been in there. 'Double A' [Anthony Averett] has been in there.. … We put Chuck [Clark] and DeShon [Elliott] in there. It's just a matchup thing."
Martindale said he was pleased with how Jones played Thursday night against the Packers. Jones made eight tackles in the game, which Martindale said shows "you're going down the right street."
"He got a little tired there at the end of the game, which is good for him to know that he needs to get his legs," Martindale said. "I'm really pleased with Cyrus."
Ravens Have 14 Players Miss Practice
The Ravens had 14 players out of Sunday's practice before heading to Philadelphia for two days of joint practices.
Some of the new absences were rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin, veteran outside linebackers Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
Others missing were wide receiver Seth Roberts, running backs Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards; offensive linemen Marshal Yanda, Randin Crecelius and Greg Senat; linebackers Chris Board (concussion) and Nicholas Grigsby; and cornerbacks Young and rookie Iman Marshall.