Inside linebacker Patrick Queen had been looking forward to Monday's first padded practice of training camp, and it showed.
Queen flew around the field and had another strong day, entering a contract year in which he intends to play stellar football. Queen admits he was angry when the Ravens declined to pick up his fifth-year option after his best season in 2022 with 117 tackles, five sacks, six passes defended and two interceptions. But after speaking with General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh, Queen was reminded how much the Ravens value him and knows that having his best season will only enhance his value.
"At the end of the day, I get to play football in the National Football League, so that's a blessing in itself," Queen said. "I talked to Harbs, I talked to Eric, everything is good and settled right now. I'm not focused on the contract. I'm just looking to play ball. At the end of the day, I get to play football and make my market what I want it to be. I'm not stressing anything. I'm going out there having fun with my teammates, fun with my coaches."
Harbaugh believes Queen is mentality and physically prepared to have his best season.
"I think the sky is the limit for Patrick," Harbaugh said. "My expectations for Patrick are for [him] to have a stellar season, and it's only been affirmed by the way he's practiced, the way he's carried himself. He's in a contract year and all that kind of stuff. Sometimes guys get distracted, and he has not been distracted at all. He is locked in on the mission ahead. You appreciate that, and it's showing up in the way he's playing every day."
While Queen looks to be in midseason form, running back J.K. Dobbins is on the PUP list and has yet to practice as he also enters a contract year. But Queen said it was unfair to compare the two situations and was supportive of Dobbins.
"I think everybody's situation is different," Queen said. "I know J.K.s faith is strong, we both trust in God to lead us in the right direction.
"His situation is different than mine. J.K.'s been hurt before, I think he's seen how scary that side can be. He's got his own perspective on things, I've got my own perspective on things. I think at the end of the day you have to respect our decisions. Everybody on the outside has views of how we should feel, how we should do things. He's been in this situation before, I can see where he's coming from."
Geno Stone Limps Off Practice Field With Injury
Geno Stone, a valuable member of the safety rotation and a core special teams player, limped off the field Monday after grabbing his ankle. Stone was walking under his own power but headed into the training room with about 30 minutes left in practice and did not return.
Stone reached agreement on a one-year contract with Baltimore during the offseason after briefly testing the free-agent market. He started seven games last season when Marcus Williams was injured and played 70% of the team's special teams snaps.
"It didn't look too serious," Harbaugh said. "We'll get some more information as we go."
Hard Work Is Paying Off for Broderick Washington
After playing every game with a career-high 493 defensive snaps in 2022, fourth-year defensive tackle Broderick Washington could see his role become even larger in 2023. Washington is entering a contract year and will be counted on to help Michael Pierce and Justin Madubuike lead a talented defensive line rotation that's now without Calais Campbell.
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Anthony Weaver wasn't surprised to see Washington have a strong day of practice Monday in pads.
"I don't know that there's a person in this building that works harder than Broderick Washington," Weaver said. "If you even look [at] his body from when he got [here] to how it is now, he looks completely different. You talk about a guy that's taken every bit of coaching and then some – it's him. I'm not surprised by any of his success, and I would expect more."
Michael Pierce Sees Benefits From Taking Up Hot Yoga
Pierce has been among the NFL's top nose tackles when healthy, but he has played just 11 games over the past two seasons after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 precautions.
In an effort to stay healthy and improve his flexibility, Pierce began taking hot yoga this offseason and has enjoyed the benefits. He said he does it about twice a week.
"Just being more flexible, more stretching," Pierce said. "Doing all the little things that you can, especially as you get older in this league, you start to notice. Just investing in myself, making sure I cross off every little thing that I can to make sure I can be here and durable for the next 17, 18, however many weeks we've got."