With the Ravens holding their first padded practices of training camp on Monday and Tuesday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. The pads coming on always reiterates how different the sport is upon introducing contact and — perhaps more importantly — the threat of contact. Much can be accomplished working out in shorts, but the intensity and tempo of padded practices reveal more about what’s under the hood of an unproven player.
2. Aside from players on the physically unable to perform and non-football injury lists, the Ravens have remained healthy except for Geno Stone, who suffered an ankle injury that’s “not a long-term deal,” per John Harbaugh. David Ojabo sat out the latter portion of Tuesday’s practice after briefly leaving the field.
3. Zay Flowers excelled in Tuesday’s 1-on-1 drills and caught a pair of touchdowns, one in an 11-on-11 goal-line drill and another during a 7-on-7 period. The rookie first-round pick continues to look the part of someone who will be heavily involved in this passing offense come Week 1.
4. Rock Ya-Sin has had an up-and-down start, but secondary coach Chris Hewitt doesn’t sound concerned about his new cornerback. “He hasn’t played a whole bunch of man [coverage] in the multiple coverages we play. There’s a little bit of a learning curve with him right now, but he’s getting there.”
5. How his speed holds up over a full season remains unclear, but Odell Beckham Jr. is moving like a healthy player and still runs outstanding routes that should keep him productive even if he’s slower after multiple ACL surgeries. He made a leaping touchdown catch over Ya-Sin on Tuesday.
6. Beckham also dropped a beautiful deep ball from Lamar Jackson that should have been the play of Tuesday’s practice. Getting behind Ya-Sin in coverage was a good sign for the veteran wideout, but he did some pushups as punishment upon returning to the sideline.
7. Justin Madubuike has been the best defensive lineman on the field by a clear margin, disrupting the pocket and bullying blockers and ball carriers. Especially with Calais Campbell now in Atlanta, the fourth-year defensive tackle needs to become “the man” in the trenches.
8. The defensive line as a unit has gotten the best of the interior offensive line in the early days of camp and appears determined to show that Campbell won’t be missed too much. Broderick Washington is another fourth-year defensive tackle ready to position himself for a solid payday.
9. The Nelson Agholor signing was mocked when no one knew Eric DeCosta would be signing Beckham or drafting Flowers, but the former first-round pick has had a good start, catching a touchdown in each of the two padded practices. You could do worse for the No. 4 wide receiver job.
10. On Monday, Michael Pierce expressed the desire to show off his pass-rushing chops, something he flashed more in Minnesota before injuries took their toll. The 30-year-old has played in just 11 games since departing the Ravens as a free agent after the 2019 campaign.
11. Admitting he was “pissed” about Baltimore not exercising his fifth-year option, Patrick Queen has delivered some big hits and continues to take the right approach to his contract year. I’m expecting a strong season that will result in him being paid handsomely somewhere.
12. How important is defensive communication? As Harbaugh said, “We use the word gregarious and we use the word obnoxious, and we want both of them out there.” Mike Macdonald is typically pretty quiet on the practice field, but that changes after a communication breakdown.