COMMENTARY | It is a rarity to see a live Baltimore Ravens training camp practice nowadays. Since the team now practices at its training facility, there are only a few practices a year open to the public.
One of those occurred on Sunday, as the team traveled to M&T Bank Stadium for a public event.
I was on hand for the practice, and there was plenty to take away from the two hours of play.
Here are some post-practice thoughts:
- It is pretty evident why the Ravens felt the need to reach out to Dallas Clark and come to terms on a contract. Visanthe Shiancoe, who was signed to help aid the loss of Dennis Pitta, struggled in the first preseason game and his struggles continued on Sunday. He consistently dropped catchable passes, and his day was only salvaged by a touchdown reception in traffic at the end of practice.
- Rookie safety Matt Elam still isn't getting any first-team reps at strong safety. It is evident that James Ihedigbo is the clear-cut favorite for the starting strong safety job at the moment, which is concerning for Elam, the Ravens' first-round pick this year. The coaches showed no urgency to get Elam more reps with the starters on Sunday, and it appears as if he'll need to prove himself in the preseason games instead of practice in order to earn a starting job.
- Quarterback Joe Flacco had a rough practice, as many of his deep passes were under thrown and he didn't seem to be on the same page with his receivers. The pass catchers didn't help him out much, however, as drops were a theme, but Flacco lacked the zip on his passes that fans are used to seeing. It could have just been one underwhelming practice, but it's something to keep an eye on moving forward.
- During the one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen, the offensive line had its way. The only defensive lineman who showed any consistency was rookie defensive tackle Brandon Williams, who showed impressive bull-rush capabilities, but didn't incorporate any other pass-rushing moves. Fellow defensive tackle Terrence Cody unsurprisingly had the most trouble of the group, and on one play Gino Gradkowski put him on the ground immediately after contact.
-Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the offensive linemen was rookie tackle Ricky Wagner. After an impressive outing in the team's preseason opener at left tackle, Wagner continued his success on Sunday. He easily handled the pass rushers in the one-on-one drills and was the left tackle for the second-team offense. The left side of the offensive line may not be Wagner's calling long-term, but he has certainly impressed thus far.
- Second-year wide receiver Tommy Streeter barely even touched the field during seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. There was no apparent urgency to get him any reps, and it is clear that rookie Aaron Mellette has more priority from the coaching staff. At this point, it may be a long shot for Streeter to make the final roster.
- Kicker Justin Tucker put his strong leg on display, converting on an attempt from 60 yards. That appeared to be his limit, however, as most of his attempts from past the 50-yard line came up short. Inside 60 yards, Tucker easily converted on his attempts.
- The Ravens are continuing their rotation of Josh Bynes and Arthur Brown at the weakside linebacker position. Both linebackers had near equal first-team reps. It appears that the Ravens could use a weakside-by-committee tactic to begin the season, using Brown mainly as a blitzer up the middle and a thumper in the run game.
Kyle Casey is a sports writer living in Baltimore, Md. He maintains his own football site, End Zone Report, and is the editor of Cat Crave.
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