With the Ravens concluding their final practice of mandatory minicamp on Wednesday and beginning the countdown to the start of training camp in late July, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Lamar Jackson turned in his best spring performance with the highlight being a gorgeous deep ball to Sammy Watkins for a long touchdown against Marlon Humphrey in outside coverage. I dislike how some try to treat each workout as some referendum on a former NFL MVP, but Jackson was outstanding.
2. Jackson didn’t answer when asked if he’s been working with a quarterback coach this offseason, saying he’s mainly worked on his own to refine his footwork to stay open and drive the ball. After throwing with teammates in Arizona this spring, Jackson plans to hold another session in South Florida.
3. Extension talks with Jackson will remain a story until a deal’s completed, but John Harbaugh summarized it nicely. “Look what he’s done. He’s going to get paid. He knows that.” Especially with Jackson under contract through 2022 after having his fifth-year option exercised, there’s no apparent angst for either side.
4. Asked about his injury history in April, Watkins said Baltimore would have to protect “a guy that goes 100 percent, a guy that really doesn’t know better.” Now seeing how hard he practices, there’s absolute truth to that. Some veteran rest days should be in order to keep him healthy.
5. Watching new inside linebackers coach Rob Ryan lead his group through some bag drills was one of the early highlights of Wednesday’s workout. You got the sense that he enjoyed the many cameras focused on his group, but Ryan’s passion received a glowing review from Patrick Queen last week.
6. Harbaugh acknowledged the left guard competition still being “wide open.” With Ben Cleveland, Ben Powers, and Tyre Phillips mentioned by name as leading candidates, this figures to be one of the more compelling battles of the summer and I’d expect plenty of rotating early in training camp.
7. Daelin Hayes had a good spring and remains in the rotation mix, but the rookie drew the ire of coaches after failing to recognize Gus Edwards out of the backfield for a catch and run. Mistakes will come, but monitoring the development of Odafe Oweh and Hayes should be fun.
8. Entering a contract year, Bradley Bozeman expressed confidence that center can be the position “where I kind of dominate.” Recalling how Ryan Jensen parlayed his strong 2017 campaign into a deal making him the NFL’s highest-paid center, you hope the Ravens didn’t wait too long to make this switch.
9. By registering multiple pass breakups during Wednesday’s session, Davontae Harris offered the latest reminder of how stiff the competition will be for those final cornerback spots on the roster. As usual, contract status and special-teams ability will loom large in making decisions.
10. It was interesting to hear Humphrey point out the depth and “a major energy change” with the wide receivers group, referencing both the new coaches and the players themselves. We’ll see how it translates to training camp and the start of the season, but Humphrey is typically pretty candid.
11. Former Ohio State product Binjimen Victor was one of Wednesday’s stars with several acrobatic receptions. Young receivers like Victor and Jaylon Moore remain long shots from a numbers standpoint to make the roster, but they’ve flashed quite a bit to garner some praise.
12. Minicamp’s conclusion reminds that spring observations are of virtually no consequence by the time final cuts are made. Practices in shorts have benefits, but process is more important than any given spring rep’s outcome. In the big picture, avoiding season-altering injuries is the only real victory this time of year.