As the Ravens lined up for 11-on-11 reps during Wednesday's OTAs, it wasn't hard to find starters on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Attendance at OTAs is voluntary, but Head Coach John Harbaugh liked the turnout and tone of Wednesday's practice. Harbaugh added that he was not concerned about veterans who had yet to report, such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and tight end Mark Andrews. In previous years, some veterans have come to certain OTA weeks and not others.
"I'm happy with the numbers," Harbaugh said. "We've got a lot of guys here. The numbers are really high – that's exciting. The energy is really good.
"I'm a coach; I want everybody here. I want every player here all the time doing everything they can. Now, is that necessarily the best thing? I don't know. Everybody has got their own circumstance, and that's OK. I think about what OBJ is doing, for instance, out there in Arizona; I don't have any problem with that, or [with what] Mark [Andrews] is doing out there. They'll be in here soon enough – whenever they're ready and when they need it. They talk to me and tell me what they're doing. They're working hard."
Quarterback Lamar Jackson made his practice debut and said he'll be at the remainder of OTAs.
"New offense – I had to get that down pat before the season rolls in, because the season is getting nearer," Jackson said. "Even though we've got a couple months left, still, I just wanted to learn the new offense and get with my guys."
Linebackers Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith, safety Marcus Williams, and offensive linemen Tyler Linderbaum and Morgan Moses were among the most active participants during the workout open to the media.
"Honestly, I love the game and I felt like the game has done so much for me, and going to do even more for me in the future, so I'm just excited to be out here and bonding with the teammates," Smith said. "I think it's great just to be out here playing the game that I love and getting better, because no one is ever too good. You can always find room for improvement."
Devin Duvernay, Rashod Bateman Making Steady Progress
Wide receivers Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman, who both underwent season-ending foot surgery in 2022, were at Wednesday's practice. Their participation is being limited and monitored closely, but Harbaugh said he was pleased with where both receivers are physically.
Duvernay took a step forward from what he was doing on the field during football school activities.
"Duv has been out there working hard, and he's kind of building stamina back up and everything, with his feet and his legs, and I think he's doing a good job," Harbaugh said. "Bate is right on schedule, from what they told us, and he's chomping at the bit, and the trainers are holding him back a little bit. We want to be cautious, probably, more than anything right now, but he wants to get out there, too. So, I feel good about those guys, yes."
Smith Praises Patrick Queen for His Professional Attitude
After Smith was traded to the Ravens last year, Patrick Queen played the best football of his career and joined Smith as one of the NFL's top inside linebacker combinations. Smith sees Queen's picking up from where he left off last season entering the final year of his rookie contract.
When Smith sniffed out a running back screen in the backfield, Queen was the first player there with a leaping celebration.
"I truly enjoy working with that guy [Queen]," Smith said. "I think he's a pro at the end of the day. He's out here to get better with the guys. He's just trying to make this year his best year thus far, and talking with him, I think [he has a] heck of a talent. I'm excited to just be next to him, playing with him and making each other better."
The Ravens did not pick up Queen's fifth year option, however General Manager Eric DeCosta said on "The Lounge" podcast that he wants to sign Queen to a new deal.
"I can tell you this. Patrick Queen had a helluva year last year," DeCosta said. "Patrick Queen is a very talented, in my mind, Pro Bowl-type linebacker. He's going to have a great year this year. We want Patrick Queen on this team; we want to keep him on this team. We will, at some point, try to get him signed, hopefully, to an extension if we can."
John Harbaugh Weighs in On NFL Rule Changes
NFL owners this week voted to resurrect its “inactive third quarterback rule,\[comma\]”, allowing teams to name an emergency No. 3 quarterback from its list of inactive plays. If a team's top two quarterbacks are injured in a game and cannot return, the rule will allow the emergency No. 3 quarterback to enter the game.
"I think it's good for the league. It's good for the sport," Harbaugh said. "You don't want to be in a situation now, with the way protocols are going, where a team is deprived of a quarterback. So, I think it's common sense. I applaud the league; I applaud the [NFL] Competition Committee [and] the owners for voting it in, the league office for supporting it."
Harbaugh, however, is not in favor of the new kickoff rule. NFL Owners also voted to allow players to fair catch on kickoffs next season, which would result in a possession beginning at its team's own 25-yard line.
"We voted against it," Harbaugh said. "We think it's going to create more high-speed head trauma than not having it in there. That's our position on it, but we'll see. They want to give it a shot and take a look at it, then we'll give it a shot and take a look at it. So, it's in, and because it's in, we support it. But we thought there were better ideas."
Michael Thomas May Require Shoulder Surgery
Harbaugh said wide receiver Michael Thomas, who was signed to the team's practice squad late last season, may require surgery after injuring his shoulder.
"Michael Thomas separated his shoulder kind of leaning for a ball, and he ended up falling and landed on his shoulder," Harbaugh said. "That could be a surgery, possibly, for his labrum. We'll see."
In 76 career games, Thomas has 30 receptions for 366 yards and one touchdown.