Practice Report 8/7: Tight End Hayden Hurst Leads the Way for Improved Passing Game

The Ravens are starting to see the immediate impact that their first-round tight end can make on the offense.

Hayden Hurst had arguably his best practice to date Tuesday as the Ravens held their second joint practice with the Los Angles Rams. Hurst hauled in several tough passes during another boiling hot afternoon in Owings Mills.

Hurst had a nice connection with quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson, and his most impressive catch of the day was a diving grab down the sidelines on a nicely placed pass from Flacco. Hurst timed his jump perfectly and made the catch right in front of the fans to get the biggest cheer of the day.

"He was fantastic," Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "He's made a huge jump."

The Ravens drafted Hurst with the 25th overall pick hoping he'd give them a valuable receiving threat over the middle. That's exactly what he showed against the Rams, as Flacco threw his direction several times on the day.

Hurst made a pair of nice catches down the seam on passes just between the linebacker and safety.

"I think I'm just becoming comfortable with the playbook," Hurst said. "The more comfortable I feel, the faster I'm going to be able to play. Me and Joe are starting to link up and get on the same page."

On one of the catches, Hurst pulled down the pass in tight traffic, absorbed a hit from the safety and then ran into the end zone. He added some high steps for a little flair as he ran into the end zone.

"I was feeling myself after that play," Hurst said. "Joe put me right overtop the linebacker and I caught it and cut in front of the safety. I just want to make plays."

Hurst wasn't the only receiving threat with a strong showing.

Fellow rookie tight end Mark Andrews had a few nice grabs, including a pass down the middle from Jackson that would have gone for a 50-yard touchdown. Andrews also made some nice grabs in the flat, but he did have a drop on a slant route over the middle in full-team drills. Getting Andrews back involved in the offense is a good sign after he missed the first preseason game with a soft-tissue injury.

Wide receiver Willie Snead was another player with a nice showing. He set the tone early in practice by pulling down a tough catch where he shook off a big hit to make the grab.

Here were some of the other notes from practice:

- Veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had the day off. Safety Tony Jefferson didn't practice again because of a muscle pull, but Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said he isn't concerned about the issue being a setback for the veteran.

- Practice was definitely chippier than Monday. The intensity really picked up during a special teams drill when the Ravens had a pair of blockers defending a Rams gunner with the rest of both teams watching. The Ravens drew a couple of flags during that period for getting too aggressive, which Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said needs to be improved. Rosburg also scorned undrafted rookie returner Janarion Grant for taunting a Rams player after what would have been an impressive return touchdown.

- The intensity from that drill carried into a red-zone drill in the next period. Tight end Vince Mayle got into a minor scuffle when he was blocking safety Steven Parker and popped off his helmet. They kept going at each other after the whistle before several teammates and coaches intervened. Players from both teams had choice words for the other side, but the skirmish never developed into a major brawl or anything even close.

- Lamar Jackson had a nice day of work. Other than his touchdown to Andrews, his best throw came when rolled to his right and delivered a strike to wide receiver Andre Levrone, who turned up-field and took the pass in for a score.

- Tight end Maxx Williams and running back Kenneth Dixon left practice early. It seemed like someone fell into Williams' leg during team drills, but he stayed out at practice for a little while before walking off the field with a trainer.

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