It was an atypically cool August day in Owings Mills, but the heat turned up on the field as the pads came on for the first time in training camp.
Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell let out his usual guttural yell and this time added, "Got the pads on today. Gonna be some thumpin'!" After the receivers drew a lot of attention in the first few days of camp, cornerback Marlon Humphrey said, "Now we play real ball!"
Here are 10 observations from Tuesday's practice:
- On the first play of 11-on-11 work in pads, rookie guard Ben Cleveland put an outside linebacker on his back with a run block. He also won multiple other run blocks. As Head Coach John Harbaugh said after Tuesday's practice, Cleveland has some pass protection sets to clean up, but the man does not move backwards in run blocking. He has good feet and the strength is obviously there. It seemed impossible, but Cleveland looked even bigger in pads.
- Rookie fifth-round fullback/tight end Ben Mason was another player who needed to stand out in pads, and he did with some big-time blocks that drove defenders several yards backwards. Mason blocks to (and maybe a little through) the whistle and outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and inside linebacker Patrick Queen took exception. They were all separated without incident, but it was clear that the Michigan man was getting under people's skin.
- Justin Madubuike has been one of the defense's biggest standouts in camp thus far and that continued with the pads on. He showed that he not only has the burst to get into the backfield, but that he can take on blockers in run defense and still make plays. Center Bradley Bozeman had high praise for the second-year defensive tackle.
- There have been rave reviews for Odafe Oweh's pass rushing speed off the edge and in pursuit in the first few days of camp, but today we got to see him set an edge – and he sets it hard. Oweh stood up a pulling right guard on one play early in 11-on-11s.
- Wide receiver Deon Cain has an uphill battle to make the team, but he's had back-to-back strong practices. He beat Humphrey for a long catch on a beautiful throw by Tyler Huntley deep down the sideline and later made a similar catch on a throw from McSorley. A sixth-round pick of the Colts in 2018 who also spent time in Pittsburgh, Cain was signed to a Reserve/Future contract in January.
- Campbell followed up his excitement to be in pads with his best day yet. He bulldozed his way past Kevin Zeitler on one play to chase down McSorley, flexing while he was in pursuit, and would have had multiple sacks. At 34 years old, Campbell looks rejuvenated and ready to have a big year, even if it's his last.
- Speaking of McSorley, he had a good day in 11-on-11 work, specifically finding receivers uncovering underneath. Baltimore's offense stumbled during the two-minute drill portion of practice, however.
- Inside linebacker Chris Board is a big man who is violent coming downhill, and it was especially apparent in pads. As part of the Ravens' rotation last year, Board showed he can be a forceful and effective blitzer. He's also one of the team's best special teamers. Queen also exploded into the flats and would have had a huge hit on an outside swing pass. His speed to the ball is so impressive that there was an audible gasp from the Ravens sideline when he met the running back.
- Another day, another strong showing by James Proche II, who is showing that he can work the edges of a defense just as well as he can carve up the middle. Jaylon Moore had perhaps the best catch of the day when he elevated over a reserve safety.
- Rookie first-round pick Rashod Bateman returned to practice after missing one day with muscle tightness and had a nifty grab over the middle with Humphrey all over him. Bateman also showed his savvy when he uncovered to find a soft spot in the zone as McSorley was under duress.