Matthew Judon is always looking to raise his game, even after his first Pro Bowl season and a career-high 9.5 sacks.
The defense has been outspoken about its desire to force more turnovers, and Judon is all-in. He obviously has the potential to create strip sacks, and had a career-high four last year. Judon also wants his first career interception.
"I got the best hands on the team, I just haven't had the opportunities," Judon said with a smile. "Sometimes on passes to the flats, I worry about just batting it down.
I'm going to try to turn those into turnovers, go ahead and pick it off. If I get a pick this year, it's going for six."
Judon is a complete player, an excellent pass rusher who is also strong against the run. He won't be chasing stats this season, but he'll be chasing the football, hoping for more sacks, more turnovers, and a Super Bowl victory at the end of the season.
"I wear many hats on this defense," Judon said. "Whatever hat I got to put on for that play, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I'm not a selfish guy when it comes to football."
Duvernay Is Part of Punt Return Competition
There is an open competition for the punt return job, and third-round draft pick Devin Duvernay is in the picture. The Ravens have plenty of options to return punts, including three players who weren't with the team last year – Duvernay, sixth-round pick James Proche II and veteran Kenjon Barner, who was signed Aug. 12 as free agent.
Proche returned punts at SMU last season and Barner is a seven-year NFL veteran who was the Atlanta Falcons' primary punt returner last season. Duvernay did not return punts at Texas, but he was a prolific wide receiver who displayed explosive run-after-catch ability and very sure hands. Training camp will give the Ravens a chance to audition Duvernay in a new role as a possible returner.
"He's never done that in college," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "But he's got good hands, he's got a good feel for it. He'll be part of the conversation."
Matt Skura Expected To Be Ready for Week 1
The good news continues for center Matt Skura, who passed his physical Sunday and returned to the practice field Monday. Skura tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL and dislocated his kneecap during a game against the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 26. Attacking his rehab with determination, Skura has made a remarkable recovery by returning to practice not even nine months after his injury.
Harbaugh said the Ravens would continue to be careful with Skura, but they expected him to be ready for action when the season begins Sept. 13 against the Cleveland Browns. Patrick Mekari played well down the stretch last season, but Skura hopes to reclaim his role as the starting center.
"He was really good yesterday," Harbaugh said. "Saw the tape, thought he moved well. He looks good. I do expect him to be able to be ready for the season. But we're going to be smart with our process with him, make sure that he's fully ready to go, every rep that he takes."
D.J. Fluker Has Impressed Orlando Brown Jr.
When right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. looks to his left this training camp, a different face is lined up next to him. Brown has spent two seasons playing next to Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, who retired after last season.
The competition to replace Yanda as the starting right guard is perhaps the best of camp and includes D.J. Fluker, Ben Powers, Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson.
Fluker was signed as a free agent during the offseason and Brown has already been impressed with Fluker's approach. Due to a vigorous training regimen during the offseason, Fluker has reported to camp in excellent shape.
"D.J. is somebody that works hard," Brown said. "He came in here with the mentality that he wants to do his best for the team and for the O-line. He's giving it everything he's got. I've been really impressed with his work ethic and his drive and his focus every day in practice."
These players have a lot to prove either as breakout candidates, emerging potential starters or in key backup battles.
Check out the action from the first padded practice of training camp when the intensity level turned up.