Rookies must earn their stripes, but count Michael Pierce among those thoroughly impressed by Ravens third-round pick Travis Jones.
Jones has been a standout in the early parts of training camp and Pierce wants reporters to take note.
"I don't know if you guys have been seeing how Travis has been playing? That's the one," Pierce said.
"The dude is 6'5". He's about as big as I am and he can move – like really, really fluidly move. I don't know why he went in the third round. You don't really see too many of those folks. I don't want to Chris Jones him, but he's got some of those similar moves. He's just a special kid, man."
Chris Jones wasn't a sack monster in college. He had 8.5 in three college seasons at Mississippi State and never more than 3.0, before being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round. Jones has since logged 49.5 sacks in six NFL seasons.
Travis Jones also had 8.5 sacks in three seasons at UConn, with 4.5 last year. The Ravens would love to see him break out the way Chris Jones has in the NFL.
Part of what will help Travis Jones in the NFL is that he'll get more breathers than he had at UConn, where he was on the field for nearly every play. He will be fresher, which should allow his raw ability to take over. Asked what stands out about Jones, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver first said his size.
"He's 330 [pounds], he's 6'3", 6'4", ran a 4.9 [40-yard dash], and you see every bit of it on the film," Weaver said. "The thing that I think is going to surprise people is just how quick he is. He's not just a run-stopper and a pocket-pusher, he has the ability to affect the passer too and win on the edge. So, I'm excited about the kid. When it all clicks, it's going to be fun to watch."
The Ravens have a lot of defensive line depth and it will be interesting to see how they rotate in all their pieces. Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce will be the starters. That leaves Brent Urban, Jones, Broderick Washington, Justin Madubuike and others vying for defensive roles and snaps.
Pierce: Tyler Linderbaum Is 'Scrappy'
One of the best one-on-one matchups when the pads came on Monday was between Pierce and rookie first-round pick Tyler Linderbaum.
Linderbaum's size will continue to be talked about as he adjusts to bigger, stronger defensive linemen at the NFL level. Pierce absolutely checks those boxes, and he shared his takeaway from his first full-go battles with the rookie center.
"He's feisty, man," Pierce said. "Just because you're a smaller guy doesn't mean you can't play or you can't hold up against people. This game is leverage, this game is really want-to. I'm 6-foot. A lot of guys I go against are 6'2", 6'3", 6'4"; they might have longer arms than me but I find my way in to make my impact on the game. I think he's doing really well to be honest with you."
John Harbaugh Is Impressed With Corey Clement
As the Ravens wait for J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to return to the field, they're getting a good look at the other contenders for a job.
One that flew under the radar was the addition of running back Corey Clement just before the start of training camp. Clement was a star in the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl LII victory and now he's looking to re-launch his career in Baltimore.
"I've always thought he's a really physical guy, really quick-footed, downhill guy," Harbaugh said. "We really didn't know how physically impressive he was – when you see him in person. And his attitude is just off the charts. He and I have a handshake now that he taught me, so we'll see how it goes. Maybe we'll show it to you later."
Clement definitely passes the eye test. He looks bigger than his 5-foot-10, 220-pound listing would suggest. He's competing with Mike Davis, Justice Hill, rookie Tyler Badie and Nate McCrary for a spot on the 53-man roster. The preseason games will go a long way in sorting out that battle.
"When the real football comes on, I think that's when you find out about the running backs," Harbaugh said.
Ravens Working on Some RPO Wrinkles
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman is always tinkering with his ground game and this offseason, Baltimore is working on some wrinkles in the RPO game.
After Monday's padded practice, the Ravens were back in "shells" Tuesday and focused on execution more than physicality. They worked on the RPO game a lot, both as preparation for the offense and defense.
"Yes, I think all those things really – to be honest with you – have been in the playbook. We've got all those RPO [run-pass option] plays in there. We probably haven't tapped into them all," Harbaugh said. "The principles are all the same, and the routes kind of tweak a little bit.
"You saw a lot of it today, and I thought it was pretty well executed, and our defense … Part of it was for our defense, too, because we're going to see some of that stuff early in the season. And we're learning; it's tough stuff to defend. It's challenging."
The Ravens face the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins to begin the season. The Dolphins led the league in RPO "pulls" (when the quarterback kept the ball and threw) and were, according to Pro Football Focus, the best RPO passing team in the league.