Second-year safety DeShon Elliott made the best play of Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs), or at least the three practices open to the media, during Thursday’s session.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jaylen Smith looked like he was open for a long touchdown from Robert Griffin III when Elliott came out of nowhere. Without making any contact, Elliott laid out to make a diving interception right on the sideline, showing incredible range from the middle of the field.
Veteran safety Earl Thomas III wasn’t practicing Thursday, but if you didn’t check the jersey number twice, you would have thought it was the six-time Pro Bowler making the play instead of a second-year player who has yet to play a regular-season game.
Elliott, a sixth-round pick out of Texas last year, suffered a broken forearm in the Ravens’ fourth preseason game in Miami, ending his rookie season prematurely.
To that point, he had been a bright spot in training camp and offseason practices, seemingly always around the ball. That was his calling card in college (the same college Thomas attended), where he made six interceptions, forced three fumbles and scored two touchdowns during his junior year.
“He covers a lot of ground. You saw it on that play,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “Knows where he is, plays really fast, works really hard. He’s going to make a mark.”
Here are other notes from Thursday’s practice:
- Harbaugh held tight end Hayden Hurst out of practice because he’s been dealing with a tweaked hamstring. Hurst should be back for minicamp next week, Harbaugh said.
- Wide receiver Seth Roberts (undisclosed) also missed practice, but third-round rookie Miles Boykin was back in a limited capacity.
- It seems Lamar Jackson is making strides with his mechanics, as his passes have looked better as OTAs have gone on. He has also avoided making too many bad mistakes, evidenced by his first interception of the open OTA practices when he and his receiver clearly weren’t on the same page and Brandon Carr got an easy interception. Jackson and the installation of the offense are still a work in progress, but there’s definitely been improvement.
- One of Jackson’s best plays of the day had to be when a wayward snap hit the turf and Jackson picked it up, composed himself and fired a dart to tight end Mark Andrews over the middle.
- Jackson also flashed his running ability on one play when the Ravens’ defense was loaded up on one side. He sprinted up the gut and would have gone for a long touchdown. That’s the kind of play, which often isn’t evident in practices, that makes Jackson special. If defenders don’t stay in the right gap, he’s gone.
- Cornerback Maurice Canady made a nice play to come over the top and break up a pass. Canady has a lot of versatility, as he can play cornerback or safety.
- Running back Kenneth Dixon made an impressive jump cut after a basic catch along the sideline, and later flashed his lateral movement during a run along the edge. Don’t forget about Dixon, who ran well late last season, in the Ravens’ competitive running back rotation.
- Third-round rookie outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson flashed his run-stopping potential by bursting into the backfield on one play for what would have been a tackle for loss.
- Undrafted wide receivers Antoine Wesley (catches everything), Sean Modster (smaller guy who gets open a lot) and Smith, who came back from the Elliott leaping interception to catch a red-zone touchdown despite a tipped pass, all had a solid day.
- Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser flashed some, making a nice play in coverage to knock down a pass and coming up the middle for what would have been a sack.
- Punter Sam Koch once again showed why he’s the best holder in the business, snaring a wayward snap from an undrafted rookie long snapper and getting it down for a successful 58-yard field goal by Kaare Vedvik.