Sunday brought another day of practice without Lamar Jackson and Marcus Peters.
Peters watched from the sideline in shorts and a sweatshirt as the team worked at M&T Bank Stadium, but the Ravens' MVP quarterback was not in attendance.
"We've got a couple of guys, I think Marcus Peters is another one, Justice Hill is another one, who have some soft tissue things," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Just rather be safe with those guys right now, give those things a chance to get better and be right."
Anytime Jackson misses practice it will draw attention, but the Ravens are still three weeks away from the season-opener against the Cleveland Browns, and Jackson has yet to miss a regular-season game due to injury. Harbaugh was asked if Jackson had a tired throwing arm or a soft tissue injury in his arm, but Harbaugh did not elaborate.
"I'm not getting into all that," Harbaugh said. "It's training camp, we're getting close to the season, and we're really not talking about injuries too much."
Others who missed Sunday's practice were Hill, Chris Moore (finger), Kenjon Barner and Eli Wolf.
Versatility of Jimmy Smith and Other D-Backs Will Be Key
Not only do the Ravens have perhaps the NFL's deepest secondary, it's extremely versatile. The release of Earl Thomas III moves DeShon Elliott into the starting lineup at safety. But it could also lead to more time at safety for veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith.
"He's already practicing there," Harbaugh said. "He's been back there in certain packages, in certain coverages, playing safety. But we have good safeties. I like the guys we have. The young guys are practicing. We'll see how they do. We'll just do what we always do; we'll put the best players we have out there."
Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale uses multiple defensive packages based on getting the matchups the Ravens want. Pass Defense Coordinator Chris Hewitt says the Ravens' versatility in the secondary will continue to be an asset. Anthony Levine Sr. can line up at either linebacker or safety, Marlon Humphrey can play outside corner or in the slot, and premier slot corner Tavon Young is back this season after missing all of 2019 with a neck injury.
"The way that we play in our secondary, we have a lot of guys who do a lot of interchangeable things," Hewitt said. "We move guys around, whether it's a guy playing corner, a guy playing nickel, or a guy playing safety. We're going to optimize our looks as far as matchups are concerned. So, if there's a reason for using Jimmy at safety, we'll do that. Whether its versus a tight end or a bigger wide receiver, whatever it is, we'll use him in that fashion. We'll continue to keep on moving him around, and he's embraced that role. I'm proud of what he's done so far."
Patrick Ricard's Days as Two-Way Player Could Be Over
Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen gained plenty of talent to work with, but he could be losing Patrick Ricard from his defensive room.
For several seasons, Ricard has been a rare NFL player who would see meaningful snaps on both offense and defense. The Pro Bowl fullback played 342 offensive snaps last season and also saw 140 snaps as a defensive tackle.
However, the Ravens added veterans Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe in free agency and drafted Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington.
Meanwhile, Ricard is a devastating blocker at fullback who may also see increased action as a tight end this season. With that offensive responsibility, coupled with the Ravens' depth on the defensive line, it seems unlikely that Ricard will play defense.
"Pat's done a great jo for us on both sides of the ball," Cullen said. "He made the Pro bowl last year as a fullback/tight end and we're kind of keeping him there. Obviously, he's always hovering around wanting to play both sides. But with the additions we have, we feel he'll be able to stay on that side of the ball."
Harbaugh Noticed Pumped in Crowd Noise
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, even teams that may allow fans at home games will limit the number in attendance. According to reports, the NFL is considering allowing teams to play crowd noise over the loudspeakers this season.
In preparation for that possible dynamic, the Ravens pumped crowd noise through the loudspeakers during Sunday's practice at M&T Bank Stadium, and Harbaugh noticed.
"It was louder than I thought it was going to be," Harbaugh said. "That's the decibel level that we're supposed to have as the background in games. It was definitely something that you could hear, probably similar to what you have in the stadium when the crowd's there at a normal level. It was definitely something that was part of the atmosphere."
Harbaugh was pleased with the intensity of Sunday's practice. For the team's rookies, it was their first visit to the site where they'll be playing home games. They won't have the benefit of preseason games before the regular-season opener.
"It was great," Harbaugh said. "We needed it. It was a change of pace. We've only been in pads for five-or-so days, and the guys are feeling that, because they've been really practicing hard. To get to the stadium – a different environment – they were excited. The rookies were really excited, and I think it showed in the effort they put forth."