John Harbaugh Details the Recruitment of Justin Houston
The Ravens relished being back in front of fans at M&T Bank Stadium, but the day's biggest news came before practice started when the team confirmed it had agreed to terms with pass rusher Justin Houston on a one-year deal.
The veteran pass rusher wasn't at Saturday's practice, but the excitement about his addition was certainly present.
Houston fills the team's top remaining need, providing a player with 97.5 career sacks who is still playing at a high level at 32 years old, evidenced by his 19 sacks the past two seasons.
"He's a proven player," Harbaugh said. "We have a role for him, and he has a chance to really help us. So, I'm excited about it."
The Ravens first brought Houston in for a visit in April and Harbaugh said the two talked a lot since. Harbaugh said Houston "wanted to be here months ago" and gave props to his agent and General Manager Eric DeCosta for working out a deal that was delayed for "business reasons."
Harbaugh did some recruiting as the two sides tried to work out the numbers. Even cornerback Marcus Peters, who played with Houston for three years in Kansas City, made some phone calls.
Houston's Ravens debut will be delayed, however. Harbaugh didn't have a specific day yet when he expects the veteran to take the field.
"It's going to be a while," Harbaugh said. "He's got to get vaccinated, in all honesty. So, there's going to be a five-day period there. But he's going to get in town as soon as he can, so we'll kind of get through that, get him his physical and those kinds of things."
Odafe Oweh Excited to Learn From the Veteran
Bringing Houston into the fold is more than just adding more bite to the Ravens' pass rush.
Baltimore drafted a pair of rookie outside linebackers in Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes in the first and fifth rounds, respectively, and now they have a chance to learn from one of the game's best.
Oweh is an ultra-talented prospect with premier physical gifts. Now Houston can help groom the business-minded youngster who is eager to learn.
"Man, we got better – that's how I can take it," Oweh said. "It's an opportunity for me to learn from a guy that has [97.5] sacks; that's always great. I'm learning from Calais [Campbell] every day, and now you just added another guy that has a history of just getting to the quarterback.
"I can use help, every angle I can get. We just added another nice outside linebacker, so I just see it as competition, as well, but we got better. So, I'm good."
James Proche II Continues to Shine, But Wait for the Pads
One of the biggest standouts of training camp through four practices has been second-year wide receiver James Proche II and that continued at Saturday's practice. Proche caught everything that came his way, including a quick slant during a two-minute drill that he took to the end zone.
As a rookie sixth-round pick, Proche caught one pass for 14 yards. He was targeted three times. The Ravens have a lot of weapons to get the ball to this year, but so far, Proche is showing he may be deserving of more looks.
"Nobody works harder," Harbaugh said. "I'll tell you what; four straight days, he's done it every single day. So, I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings."
It's not just Proche who is standing out among the young wideouts. First-round pick Rashod Bateman caught a long touchdown over Marlon Humphrey. Devin Duvernay had one of the most impressive snags of the practice. Rookie fourth-round pick Tylan Wallace has looked smooth. Harbaugh is encouraged by the strong start but is reserving jumping to conclusions before the pads come on.
"I love every one of them for different unique ways," Harbaugh said. "I do think it's early, you know? As a coach, we'll take it one day at a time. We're not even in pads yet, so I'm sure the defense will tell you that. It's like, 'Well, OK. We're not touching anybody right now.' So, we'll take it one day at a time and try to get better every day."