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Twelve Ravens Thoughts on final week of voluntary OTAs

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With the Ravens wrapping their final week of voluntary organized team activities before mandatory minicamp in Owings Mills, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. We should never make too much of practice observations this time of year, but that’s especially true when players aren’t even working in helmets as was the case this week. Though competitive and spirited, Thursday’s workout was sloppy and had more of an “open gym” feel at times. 

2. Lamar Jackson made some impressive throws in his return to OTAs, but the play of the week was a Jackson pass deflected by Brent Urban that went right to Ronnie Stanley. The left tackle caught it and quickly turned upfield, showing off a spin move in the process. Funny stuff.

3. Charlie Kolar also provided entertainment by punting the ball as hard as he could after fighting through a defensive hold to make a diving catch for a touchdown. Earning snaps behind Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely won’t be easy, but the No. 3 tight end has made some nice catches.

4. Not only does Nelson Agholor bring veteran leadership to a young wide receiver room, but he also pulled back the curtain on Jackson’s quarterback acumen and why his presence at any workout — spring, summer, or fall — is valuable for a team trying to break through and win a Super Bowl.

— Nelson Agholor on Lamar Jackson

5. With Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens absent this week, Nate Wiggins received plenty of reps against Baltimore’s starting offense, which should only help his development. Yes, he’s skinny, but as former Clemson teammate Trenton Simpson noted, “He’s so fast. Nobody is going to run past him.”

6. We tend to focus on the veterans who skip voluntary workouts, so Roquan Smith deserves a nod for being present for every open OTA. There’s no question that Simpson appreciates it. “His personality and the way he attacks it day after day, I feel like it impacts everybody around him.” 

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7. Given their standing on the depth chart, Devontez Walker and T.J. Tampa have already formed a bit of a rivalry facing off with each rookie winning reps this week. Walker has an easier path to immediate playing time, but both fourth-round picks have flashed their skills. 

8. Andrew Vorhees is competing with Josh Jones at left guard and is easy to root for returning from the torn ACL that derailed his entire 2023. “When the injury happened, it was kind of like, ‘Why?’ and then I flipped it into, ‘Why not?’ and just attacked it straight on.”

9. It’s unclear why Humphrey has been limited to working on a side field during OTAs he’s attended, but John Harbaugh indicated he may not participate fully in next week’s minicamp. Rookies Adisa Isaac and Beau Brade have a chance to return for minicamp after sitting out OTAs with injuries. 

10. The only veterans not to participate or be present on the sideline for any of six open OTAs were Kyle Van Noy and Deonte Harty. Harbaugh said Harty has “a newborn baby situation.” Considering Van Noy arrived in late September to collect nine sacks last season, his absence wasn’t surprising.

11. The new kickoff rule’s impact remains to be seen, but Justin Tucker quipped that he’s in the weight room preparing for the possibility of being involved in more tackles. He also noted that the coaching staff has “probably watched every XFL kickoff that has happened with the similar rules.”

12. Despite Ravens fans’ reaction, Patrick Queen’s comments about Pittsburgh being a better atmosphere for him are exactly what you’d expect someone to say to endear himself to a new team and city. I also welcome any trash talk that breathes new life into a Ravens-Steelers rivalry that’s become pretty dull. 

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