For the third straight day, the Ravens didn't give into the heat.
This has been the warmest week of training camp and practicing in the morning hasn't saved the Ravens from sultry conditions. However, the Ravens couldn't afford to back off, not with the season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders (Sept. 13) less than three weeks away. So they persevered and practiced with the intensity that Head Coach John Harbaugh expects from a team that prides itself on its work ethic.
Some players draped towels over their heads when they were on the sidelines. Staying hydrated was a priority and water breaks were more frequent. But the work got done as the Ravens completed their final full practice of the week.
Harbaugh believes the team took another step forward heading into Saturday's preseason finale against the Washington Redskins, when Baltimore will try for a record-setting 20th straight preseason victory.
"It was tough. It was really hot, really humid," Harbaugh said. "Competitive practices. They fought through.
"Part of it is understanding, as Winston Churchill quoted so eloquently, 'Fatigue makes cowards of us all.' What he meant was, when you get fatigued it's hard to focus. It's hard to execute. We want to be able to execute when we're tired, when we're hot, when our legs aren't there. Late in the game, or late in the season when it counts."
Harbaugh stopped Wednesday's practice to reinforce that message to his team and he said they finished that day and Thursday well.
Some observations from Thursday's practice:
- Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right tackle Alejandro Villanueva were back at practice after getting Wednesday off.
- This was a good week for the offensive line. Stanley continued to look good in his recovery from ankle surgery, and he appears more than ready if he gets his first preseason reps on Saturday. The left guard competition looks wide open, but Ben Powers took plenty of reps and built off a solid showing in the preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Ben Cleveland returned to full activity this week and looked recovered from a concussion suffered earlier in camp.
- Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams was his typical bundle of energy. Early in practice, he put the wide receivers and tight ends through a stop-and-go drill where they ran full speed, decelerated quickly, then returned to full speed while completing a route. After practice, Williams held court doing footwork drills with defensive backs Ar'Darius Washington and Nigel Warrior. Williams dresses in long pants and a sweatshirt every day, no matter how hot, but looks as if he could go all day. It's clear the man loves his job.
- Washington broke up two passes while DeShon Elliott had another interception. Saturday's game could be big for Washington and safety Geno Stone and their bid to make the 53-man roster, and both have been around the football all week.
- Another player fighting to the make the roster, wide receiver Deon Cain, returned to practice and made one of the best catches of the day on a perfect deep, over-the-shoulder throw from Lamar Jackson. Jaylon Moore was a favorite target of both Jackson and Tyler Huntley.
- The wide receiver group remained depleted with Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Sammy Watkins, Miles Boykin and Rashod Bateman not at practice. Others not in attendance included running back Justice Hill; cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith; linebackers Justin Houston and Otaro Alaka; safety Chuck Clark; defensive linemen Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe and Aaron Crawford; fullback Pat Ricard; tight end Nick Boyle, offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James and quarterback Trace McSorley.