Twelve Ravens thoughts following final open OTA workout

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With the Ravens conducting their final open organized team activity on Tuesday ahead of next week’s mandatory minicamp, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Involving running backs more in the passing game is a point of emphasis this offseason, and that couldn’t have been more evident Tuesday with J.K. Dobbins catching multiple touchdowns in red-zone drills as the photo below captured his acrobatic grab. Dobbins flashed his potential as a receiver last summer too.

2. You have to feel good for Gus Edwards, whose father was back in Liberia visiting the running back’s childhood home as he was signing his new contract extension. “He was like, ‘I’m at the house right now. Everybody remembers me.'” What a cool and inspiring journey.

3. With Rashod Bateman missing time with what John Harbaugh described as “tenderness” and “tightness” in his muscles for the second time in three weeks, you wonder what his status will be for minicamp. You’d like to see him get a taste of competing against the full defense before training camp.

4. Lamar Jackson was excellent inside the red zone, shredding the defense for multiple touchdowns to tight ends and running backs. The spotlight is always on the 2019 MVP, of course, but I’m interested to see Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley compete for the top backup job after a normal offseason.

5. One of the early reps in a 7-on-7 period that stood out was Odafe Oweh covering Ty’Son Williams on a wheel route and knocking away McSorley’s pass. Oweh still has much to learn, but it was an impressive rep for someone who rarely ever dropped into coverage at Penn State.

6. Jackson and Sammy Watkins will continue developing chemistry this summer, but the quarterback delivered a strong throw into a tight window for an impressive completion as DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark converged. Harbaugh said Watkins being a “student of the game” has really stood out since his arrival.

7. Justin Ellis batted multiple passes at the line of scrimmage, including a McSorley throw that was picked by Daelin Hayes and returned for a touchdown. The 30-year-old Ellis wouldn’t appear to be a roster lock, but his attendance has been helpful with Baltimore light on defensive line numbers this spring.

8. Though Mark Andrews said what you’d expect about his contract in hoping to remain with the Ravens for the long haul, his presence reinforces just how good he is. Nothing against the other healthy tight ends on the roster, but Andrews has been a consistent force despite taking fewer reps.

9. If you’re not noticing the center snapping the ball, that’s generally a positive development. Bradley Bozeman fits that description over the first three weeks of OTAs, which shouldn’t be taken for granted after last year’s well-documented problems at the position. 

10. Harbaugh was diplomatic when asked about the status of offensive tackle Andre Smith, but a 34-year-old veteran not taking part in spring workouts after sitting out last season is a bold strategy. We’re not talking about someone whose career was on the strongest footing even two years ago.

11. Super Bowl XLVII hero Jacoby Jones and other members of the Morgan State coaching staff visited Tuesday’s practice. The Bears’ new tight ends coach spent several minutes catching up with Jimmy Smith, one of the few remaining Ravens who played with Jones from 2012-14.

12. As if the racket emanating from the surrounding woods weren’t enough, the sight of players frequently swatting reminds how prevalent cicadas have been during recent practices. As Patrick Queen said, “I care about the creatures, but at the end of the day, do not touch me.” I concur.