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Ravens training camp sightings on resurgent defense in the pads, Odafe Oweh’s new dimension and more

In the first four days of training camp for the Ravens, the balance of power in practice had tilted towards quarterback Lamar Jackson and the offense. The finishes came easily. The stars excelled. Things went well.

Then the pads came on Monday, and the defense came to play.

“First day in the pads, what do you expect,” coach John Harbaugh said afterwards. “The guys work hard; they were in it. The energy and effort were really high. The execution was uneven, which you would expect, day one in the pads. For some reason, it’s always like that. So we have to keep improving every day.

Monday’s defense was better than Saturday’s, which Jackson dissected during the Ravens’ open practice at M&T Bank Stadium. But Monday’s offense, which was without wide receiver Devin Duvernay (thigh) and offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James (undisclosed), also looked as bewildering and out of sync as the whole camp.

The first time Jackson backed down in an 11-on-11 drill, he had to make do. The second time around, his short throw to wide receiver Rashod Bateman was cut off by cornerback Kyle Fuller. The first team attack left the field after a short series.

The connections didn’t improve when the Ravens’ receivers and defensive backs moved to one-on-ones, which almost always favors the offense. Fuller covered James Proche II, one of the Ravens’ best road runners, on the first pitch. Over the next five to 10 minutes, most of the team’s wide receivers and tight ends struggled to open up against press coverage, or weren’t given an accurate ball when they got in. are discovered.

Bateman was among the less fortunate players of the day. After getting the better of top cornerback Marlon Humphrey in Saturday’s individual drills, the two faced off again on Monday. In their first match, Bateman froze Humphrey with a stutter release before tracking him down a vertical route. But with a ball underhand, Humphrey caught Bateman and spun his head in time to disrupt the hold. Minutes later, Humphrey had his tighter coverage on Bateman rewarded with a knockdown.

Faced with tight coverage on the ground and an aggressive defensive front, the Ravens’ quarterbacks often found themselves without much recourse. In Jackson’s 11-on-11 second period, he went 4-5 but had to settle for throws near or behind the line of scrimmage: three checks for ball carriers and one screen for fullback Patrick Ricard. Unofficially, Jackson finished 10 for 15 in an 11-for-11 effort, but his assist count may have been his lowest in camp.

Tyler Huntley didn’t fare much better. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh had his first of two potential sacks against the third-year backup — even in the pads, quarterbacks are still off limits — and rookie defensive tackle Travis Jones followed a few plays later with an assist decisive. violent that his Guardian Cap protective shell almost came off his helmet.

Oweh emerge

Oweh said he spent much of the offseason working on his passing rush, and the difference was evident Monday.

A year ago, Penn State’s 2021 first-round pick was basically a speed rusher. Now he uses his hands better and is physically stronger, allowing him to get rid of offensive linemen as they enter his body. Running around rookie tackle Daniel Faalele, a fourth-round pick from Minnesota, Oweh actually dropped his outside shoulder and used it for leverage.

Oweh and defensive lineman Justin Madubuike were positives for the Ravens’ pass rush on Monday. A few times on one-on-one drills, Madubuike blew through the opposing lineman, including potential starting left guard Ben Powers.

Lever play

Run defense will be key for the Ravens this season, and it needs to be anchored by tackle Michael Pierce. The 29-year-old arrived at training camp about 10-15 pounds overweight, and it will take time for him to get into full fitness.

There were times in practice when Pierce was dominant, but that wasn’t the case on Monday. Pierce couldn’t get out of the blocks and gave up a lot of double-team ground, which can’t happen to a nose guard.

Right now, Pierce is playing too high and trying to fight with offensive linemen. On occasion, he’ll look like he’s stepped out of a toaster because he can’t get down and use his leverage.

Busted rookie

Rookie running back Tyler Badie put in a few reps with the first-team offense in passing situations and performed well as a receiver out of the backfield.

But he was also impressive running the ball, cutting twice to break up two potential long runs. If he can take on special teams, Missouri’s sixth-round pick has the chance to see the field regularly. Now he has to perform well in pre-season games.

Find a house

The Ravens have tried third-year guard Tire Phillips at every position along the offensive line except center, but it might be time to let him settle at left guard.

During the Ravens’ one-on-one passing drill with defensive linemen, Phillips was the most dominant offensive lineman. They couldn’t move him, and at one point he knocked down a defender.

It’s good to have versatility, but it’s better to have an exceptional starter at a position instead of shuffling it.

Single speed?

Second-year outside linebacker Daelin Hayes performed well in offseason practices, and there was hope he could have a breakout season in 2022.

But watching Hayes perform on Monday, he essentially looked like a one-speed performer with very little burst or sudden change in direction. Fortunately, he still has time to improve his explosiveness.

Screen Alert

The Ravens are one of the worst screen teams in the NFL, but the one Jackson pitched to Ricard was a beauty. No one wants to get in front of this truck when Ricard shifts into high gear. That’s 300 pounds of man running downhill. It can be a scary experience.

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