With Lamar Jackson making his training camp debut and the Ravens holding their ninth full-squad workout on Saturday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Justin Houston made plenty of fans by confirming he passed on better offers and even turned down Pittsburgh to come to Baltimore. That’ll make for a fun subplot when the Ravens and Steelers meet in early December, especially with JuJu Smith Schuster having done something similar on the other side.
2. Houston pointed to Wink Martindale’s scheme as the deciding factor with the opportunity for more one-on-one matchups to pressure quarterbacks. “I wanted to go somewhere where I’d know I’d have fun and I’d enjoy the scheme and [be] able to show my talents.” It’ll be fun seeing how he fits.
3. John Harbaugh confirmed Jimmy Smith sustained a low ankle sprain expected to keep him out a week or two while defensive back Nigel Warrior also avoided a serious injury to his knee. Still, these absences leave more reps for other corners to make an impression in the short term.
4. Marquise Brown has been sidelined since July 29 with a hamstring injury, but he worked out on a side field and moved well. Harbaugh said the Ravens are being cautious, which is a no-brainer in early August. “You don’t want to come back and re-injure it, which we’ve seen before.”
5. Rashod Bateman has missed three of five open practices with some sort of “muscle tightness” since sitting out the latter portion of the stadium workout last Saturday. With Jackson back at practice, the first-round rookie needs to start stacking days to build chemistry with his quarterback.
6. The offensive line struggled again with Kevin Zeitler missing his third straight practice and Ronnie Stanley still out, but drops were prevalent for wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs alike. After failing to corral a perfect slant pass from Jackson, Justice Hill did some pushups off to the side.
7. Jackson showed nice touch on a third-down completion to Mark Andrews before the ball came out — it looked like DeShon Elliott pried it loose — and Odafe Oweh recovered the fumble. Andrews made a number of catches, but you could tell that miscue and an earlier drop irritated him.
8. Even with Brown, Bateman, and Miles Boykin missing extensive time, Tylan Wallace has been fairly quiet and had an up-and-down Saturday with a couple contested catches in seven-on-seven drills followed by a drop in a full-team two-minute situation. Jackson targeting him a few times was a good sign at least.
9. Josh Oliver probably remains the default favorite for the No. 3 tight end spot, but he and the rest of the group behind Andrews have looked more like inventory than real depth to this point. Both Oliver and Eli Wolf have their moments, but they need to show more consistency.
10. Houston’s arrival definitely doesn’t help his roster chances, but Chris Smith has shown a good motor and the ability to line up at various spots on the defensive front. The 29-year-old isn’t as big as Jihad Ward, but his versatility reminds you of him a little bit.
11. During a tackling period for younger players, Ty’Son Williams caught a pass out of the backfield and delivered a good stiff arm to Khalil Dorsey down the sideline. Tyler Huntley also delivered a pretty back-shoulder throw to Binjimen Victor with Davontae Harris covering. The Ravens rarely go completely “live” anymore.
12. Jake Verity is no threat to Justin Tucker, of course, but the East Carolina rookie shows a strong leg. That said, I doubt Eric DeCosta is going to steal another fifth-round pick for a kicker with Kaare Vedvik having been with half the NFL since his 2019 trade to Minnesota.