What We Learned From Minicamp


The Ravens concluded their three-day minicamp on Thursday, wrapping up the final team activities before training camp begins next month.

Minicamp gave some of the veterans and rookies a chance to get on the field together for the first time, and here are some of the things we learned throughout the week:

Ravens aren't allowing Ed Reed situation to distract them.

The talk at the start of minicamp was the absence of Reed, who has made comments this offseason about retirement. Skipping the mandatory minicamp reignited the discussion about Reed's commitment to the Ravens for the upcoming season.

While his decision not to attend the workouts may have caught some people by surprise, his teammates emphasized that too much was being made of his absence and that they know Reed will be ready to go when training camp rolls around next month.

"These three days won't take away from where Ed Reed's focus is, and that is to come back in and help our defense be the best defense there is in football," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "I don't think it is an issue at all."

Joe Flacco looks sharp

The Ravens quarterback practiced just one day before leaving town to be with his wife, Dana, as she gave birth to their first child, Stephen. But in that one day of practice, Flacco showed why his teammates and coaches have been raving about him this offseason.

The team practiced outside Tuesday in a downpour of rain, and despite the weather, Flacco was sharp and accurate. He made quick throws and didn't seem to be impacted by the lousy weather, which is a good sign for a quarterback in the AFC North.

"He didn't have any problems," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "Most quarterbacks have problems gripping the ball, throwing different routes when they are in the rain, but if you just looked at him, you couldn't tell he was throwing in the rain."

Bobbie Williams could be the frontrunner for left guard

Bringing in free-agent guard Bobbie Williams gives the Ravens a veteran lineman in an already-tight battle for left guard. In his first day of practice, Williams jumped right in with the first-team offense and took a majority of the reps with the starters throughout the week.

Rookie Kelechi Osemele was out with an injury, so it's far too early to determine a clear leader in the competition, but Williams certainly makes it a tighter race.

"He jumped right in there and looked good doing it," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He is a veteran player, very physical guy. He has a great demeanor, great personality, so it's good to have him in there."

Michael Oher is a solid option at either side

The Ravens decided to have left tackle Bryant McKinnie focus on conditioning rather than practicing this week, which opened the door for Oher to slide over to the left side. He played well at left tackle, showing that he could be a good option at either side. Oher started every game at right tackle last year and had a good season, and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron believes that Oher could take the step from "good to great" this year.

No frontrunner emerges at running back

The battle for the No. 2 running back spot is still murky, especially with rookie Bernard Pierce missing most of minicamp practices with a tweaked hamstring. Anthony Allen and Damien Berry both ran some reps with the first team, but nobody has started to separate themselves in the race. Running backs are tough to assess at this point of the offseason because they haven't put on the pads and aren't allowed to hit, so this is a position battle that will likely last all the way through the pre-season.

Wide receiver spot crowded

Veteran free-agent acquisition Jacoby Jones had a solid start to minicamp before leaving Wednesday's practice early and sitting out Thursday with an undisclosed injury. He was getting most of the reps at the No. 3 wide receiver spot and played well. If he's healthy, Jones looks to be the frontrunner for that spot heading into training camp.

Even if Jones is the frontrunner, the position is still crowded overall, as LaQuan Williams and rookie Deonte Thompson both had good minicamps. Williams got most of the reps at No. 3 receiver when Jones when down, and cornerback Lardarius Webb said that Williams stuck out as a receiver that had the best minicamp.

Thompson has caught the eye of the media with his breakaway speed. Williams earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent last year thanks to a great training camp, and Thompson is looking to do the same this season.

Rookie Tommy Streeter had an up and down minicamp, as he showed flashes of great potential, but also had some drops on catchable balls. Also, second-year receiver Tandon Doss did not practice this week because of an undisclosed injury. Doss is expected to compete for the No. 3 receiver spot as well.

Upshaw visibly has better grasp on defense

Top draft pick Courtney Upshaw is continuing to learn the defense and shuffling around between both outside linebacker spots. He has spent time at SAM and rush linebacker, and appears to have a better grasp on the defense than during rookie minicamp last month. Upshaw caught the eye of veteran teammates like Lewis and Terrell Suggs, and he could be in store for a big year if he continues to progress.

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