Even on a practice day when the defense won, rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin stood out.
Several times, Boykin was matched against Marlon Humphrey, who is having the best training camp of any cornerback. But even Humphrey couldn't stop Boykin from making plays. The third-round pick caught two slant passes against Humphrey in one-on-one drills, despite tight coverage.
Boykin believes competing against Humphrey will only accelerate his development.
"I love it," Boykin said. "In my opinion he's one of the best corners in the league. I think he's really going to go out there and prove it this year. For me to get work against one of the best corners in the league, it's really kind of priceless going into the season."
"Maybe Miles figured he's going to go against the top corner and see what he can do," Head Coach John Harbaugh added. "Sometimes the coaches do it, sometimes the players do it themselves."
Later in practice, Boykin made his best catch when he reached high for a touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone. Ravens cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste also had tight coverage, but Boykin used his long wingspan and big body to shield him off, controlling the football before being shoved out the end zone.
After the catch, Jean-Baptiste grabbed his helmet in frustration, as both he and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale protested to the official that Boykin had gotten the ball into the end zone. However, the official raised both hands in the air to signal touchdown.
It was another training camp highlight for Boykin, who continues to impress almost daily. Even when he struggled early during the preseason opener, Boykin came back strong to make four catches for 39 yards, and had a 17-yard touchdown catch nullified by a penalty.
The Ravens have perhaps the NFL's deepest cornerback rotation, so when he's not defended by Humphrey, Boykin is still being seriously challenged. That situation seems to bring out the best in the third-round pick from Notre Dame.
"Going up against the guys in our secondary, it's great, especially for a rookie coming in and learning from that," Boykin said. "I see that every day. Going into a game, hopefully, is not as hard."
In other Monday practice developments:
- The Ravens' secondary was outstanding. First Humphrey made his second pick in two days, cutting in front of Jaleel Scott to make a juggling interception of a pass thrown by Trace McSorley. Later in practice, safety Anthony Levine Sr. anticipated a pass by Lamar Jackson, cutting in front of tight end Mark Andrews for a pick-six. Jackson and McSorley had a strong first week of training camp throwing against the Ravens' defense. But for the past two days, the tables have turned, and the defense has gotten some payback. The defense also won in a simulated goal-line stand.
- Rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown wasn't at Monday's practice, giving other receivers more reps to make plays. Wide receiver Michael Floyd made a leaping contested catch over cornerback Terrell Bonds, then had a touchdown catch later in practice. This may have been Floyd's best day of training camp.
- Wide receiver Willie Snead IV made a leaping contested catch to move the chains along the sideline and got a big, "Hell yeah, Willie!" from running back Mark Ingram. Snead is more than just a slot receiver.
- Veteran cornerback Justin Bethel made a nice play to break up a deep pass intended for Scott, but McSorley and Scott got revenge a few plays later when they went deep on Bethel again and this time connected for a long touchdown.
- Undrafted rookie left guard Patrick Mekari from Cal got some work with the starting unit Monday. Harbaugh said Mekari was being rewarded for doing well in practice and in the preseason opener.
- In addition to Brown, others not at Monday's practice were wide receiver Seth Roberts, offensive linemen Marshal Yanda and Randin Crecilius, linebackers Matthew Judon and Mike Onuoha, and cornerbacks Tavon Young, Maurice Canady, and Iman Marshal. Cornerback Jimmy Smith also left practice early, but Harbaugh said the Ravens did not have any serious injuries. Linebacker Nicholas Grigsby returned to practice after missing Sunday.