Tony Jefferson was the major offseason free-agent addition to the Ravens defense last year, and he was embraced with open arms.
This offseason, the veteran safety is feeling even more at home as he's settled into the Ravens defense next to Pro Bowler Eric Weddle.
On Wednesday, Jefferson showed he can be the playmaker the Ravens inked to a big deal last offseason.
Jefferson made the play of the day when he undercut a quarterback Joe Flacco throw down the seam, which was on its way to becoming a big completion to wide receiver Willie Snead IV. Jefferson halted what was a promising offensive drive in a two-minute, end-of-game scenario.
"Tony has another year in the system," Weddle said after practice. "He looks amazing."
Jefferson started all 16 games last year and notched 79 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception. It was an up-and-down year for him on the field, as he was beaten early in the year on some key touchdowns. But Jefferson settled in more as the year went on and finished strong down the stretch.
Now he's carried that momentum into the offseason as he continues to be a chess piece for new Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. Jefferson is being used in a variety of ways and even lining up as an inside linebacker in some situations.
Here are other notes from the second practice of mandatory minicamp:
- Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) and inside linebacker Albert McClellan (knee) returned to practice for the first time this offseason. Smith tore his Achilles about six months ago and McClellan went down in last year's training camp. Both only participated in individual drills as they ease back into practice.
- Wide receiver John "Smokey" Brown was not present. He seemed a bit shaken up after one play Tuesday but finished practice, so it didn't appear to be anything too concerning. The Ravens are playing it cautious with any injuries or tweaks.
- Offensive lineman Alex Lewis (back spasms) was still out. The Ravens kept the same first-team offensive line group they had Tuesday with (left to right) Ronnie Stanley, Jermaine Eluemunor, Matt Skura, James Hurst and Orlando Brown Jr.
- Brown Jr. is getting a lot of hard coaching from Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris and had a lengthy chat with Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda on the sideline between plays. Yanda was clearly giving Brown some technique suggestions and the rookie seems to be handling it all well.
- Another interesting note is that Nico Siragusa, who has returned from last year's season-ending knee injury, was taking some practice snaps at center.
- First-round rookie tight end Hayden Hurst had a good day. He is quick getting up the field after he catches the ball and he catches (just about) everything. He made a very tough grab in traffic over the middle of the field to move the chains. He also leaped to make a one-handed snag on a wayward screen pass.
- Inside linebacker Patrick "Peanut" Onwuasor looks much more confident on the field. He's more decisive against the run and has been in the backfield to tag down runners each of the past two days. He seems to have a strong hold on the starting job next to C.J. Mosley.
- Second-year outside linebacker Tim Williams has improved his run defense. He's better at holding up on the edge. Tyus Bowser also had another good day and has been the most productive linebacker this offseason, Linebackers Coach Mike Macdonald said.
- Robert Griffin III's energy is infectious. He ran all the way down the field and into the end zone with a running back after he handed the ball off in a read-pass-option play. Griffin also made a couple dazzling throws on the move and another that he side-armed around a pass rusher that was still on the money for Hurst as he ran an out to the sideline.
- Third-year defensive lineman Willie Henry is getting a lot of time with the first-team defense. It's hard to tell how effective he is without pads and contact, but Henry will have a chance to be a starter. Remember, he was Terrell Suggs' pick for breakout player.
- Speaking of Suggs, he was once again cracking up his teammates, the media and PSL holders watching practice. In one instance, Suggs knelt just behind kicker Justin Tucker as he lined up for a field-goal attempt and yelled something (that can't be repeated on this website) to try to distract him.
- Veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree is incredibly smooth. He makes everything look easy. Crabtree made a dazzling one-handed grab on the sideline on a desperation throw (his feet were just out of bounds), then worked back to help Flacco on a scramble on another play.
- Wide receiver Breshad Perriman had a better day as he caught several quick passes. Tim White, who is coming back from a season-ending thumb injury, also continues to flash.
- Second-year safety Chuck Clark's role is expanding. Rookie safety DeShon Elliott often seems to be in the right place, which is notable because the mental part of the game is often the toughest at that position.