The ingredients were present for tempers to flare Monday at the first Ravens-Rams joint practice.
The humidity (101-degree heat index) made standing still uncomfortable, let alone playing football. There were different guys lining up across the line looking to prove themselves. The pads came on and physicality turned up.
But the Ravens and Rams delivered an intense, productive, and yet still cordial, first joint practice Monday morning. Not even the bad blood between Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Rams cornerback Aqib Talib boiled over.
“I felt like the two teams cooperated very well, quite a bit of physicality, just a good, strong football practice,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “I thought both teams were here to get better. Both teams had an agenda, which was to improve.
“I can’t wait to get back and watch the tape, to be honest with you, and just see what we need to get better at. When you go against somebody else, it changes the dynamic just enough. I think you get a more clear indication of where you’re at. There are going to be guys that did well, and some other guys are going to have to step it up.”
The Rams came out clearly with something to prove, as they put some big pops on Ravens offensive players early on in practice.
Baltimore’s passing game that has drawn rave reviews this offseason didn’t have many highlights versus the Rams’ talented secondary featuring Talib, fellow Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Harbaugh, and nearly all the reporters, watched the Ravens offense vs. Rams defense throughout 11-on-11 drills. The Ravens defense took on the Rams offense on a separate field.
“I thought we did fine,” Harbaugh said. “We were okay. It was just okay. It was a work day.”
“It’s tough to know really what to make of it,” Flacco said. “I thought we had some ups and downs today, but we finished well the last few periods. It was a lot of fun.”
Here are other notes from Monday’s practice:
- Crabtree and Talib lined up opposite each other 10 times without incident. Talib broke up the only pass that came their way, reaching around Crabtree on a comeback route. The two seemed to hardly touch or talk each other.
- Not sure if the Ravens drew short straw or are just being gracious hosts, but they were in their purple jerseys while the Rams were in all white. The Rams had to adjust from temperate California to sweltering Maryland humidity.
- As promised, Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda practiced for the first time. He only took part in individual drills, but Harbaugh said seeing him on the field was "good for my blood pressure."
- Wide receiver John Brown had the Ravens’ best offensive play when he leapt high to snag a long pass despite Rams safety Blake Countess coming over top of him. Countess also got his hands on the ball and landed on Brown, but the Ravens free-agent addition held on.
- Rookie wide receiver Jaleel Scott made a tough grab over the middle in traffic, despite taking a solid pop. It’s good to see the big-bodied wideout make plays inside the hash marks.
- Wide receiver Chris Moore elevated for a touchdown catch over Rams cornerback Troy Hill in red-zone drills.
- Rookie tight end Mark Andrews had a third-straight strong day after returning from injury, including a long catch down the seam. He took a huge hit from defensive back Nick Holley on a later play, but popped up and seemed fine.
- Undrafted rookie running back Gus Edwards fumbled the ball twice during 11-on-11 drills. He had a good touchdown run through the left side of the line earlier in practice, but the fumbles will overshadow the positive.
- Flacco showed off his speed when he got to the edge and even outran some defenders. It looked like some Rams were a little surprised.
- The Ravens’ second- and third-string offensive lines had a tough time with the Rams’ defensive lines. Guard Cameron Lee was bulldozed on one play.
- As stated previously, I watched the Ravens offense throughout the day, so I don’t have many notes on how Baltimore’s defense did. Safety Eric Weddle seemed pretty happy about it though.