On Tuesday the Ravens called training camp a wrap, packed their bags, and headed north up 95 to Philly to have a little fun with the Eagles. There seems to be a general consensus that these joint practices are a bad idea, but I love em. It’s just an opportunity for short-sighted people to deflect blame when it comes to fights and injuries. Those things happen in football no matter who is on the other side of the ball. Realistically speaking, it’s a great opportunity for both teams to get better. You can only take so many practice reps against the same players every day in practice before you start to become too accustomed to their tendencies. A young tackle like James Hurst has probably seen Elvis Dumervil’s repertoire of rip and swim moves countless times by now. You wouldn’t want your batters facing the same pitchers every day in spring training would you? Diversify your experiences, mix it up, and if you have a good relationship with the other team, share some intel with one another so you can both improve. Win-win-win. Plus a little change of scenery never hurt anyone.
Tomorrow the two teams will play at the Linc. In preseason week 2 last year, the Ravens starters played the full first half (and stomped the Cowboys 27-10 in that half). I would expect something similar tomorrow. So if you’re just a casual fan who likes to watch Joe put together 15 play TD drives, you should be able to get a solid 2 quarters there. But for the more serious fan, there’s plenty of action for you too. Some quick notes on what I’m watching.
1. Mike Campanaro and the WR’s
The WR depth chart is still as blurry as it was when camp started. The biggest issue is that Breshad Perriman has been on the shelf with a sprained PCL. Guy needs reps more than just about anyone on the team who’s supposed to make an impact in 2015 and he lasted about half a practice before going down. Good news is that Campanaro is buzzing in Marc Trestman’s offense now that he’s healthy. I think he’ll surprise some people this year catching balls on those underneath routes. Guy’s great at picking apart zone coverage schemes and finding space for him to use his speed. Kamar Aiken seems to sliding into that WR2 spot for the time being, with Marlon Brown not far behind. Each brings something different to the table, so that’s bound to change situationally. I just don’t know where Perriman will fit in when he returns in the next week or two.
2. The Tight End Competition
This is feeling like more and more of a heated competition every day at camp. Maxx is supposed to be the pass-catcher, Crockett Gillmore is the experienced guy by default, and Nick Boyle is the afterthought who just blocks on short yardage situations. Well from what I’m hearing, Maxx is a work in progress, Gillmore was performing well early but has cooled off a bit, and Boyle has been a pass-catching machine at these joint practices. You generally hear more good news than bad news at these things, but it’ll be interesting to see how these guys are used in the 1st-team and 2nd-team offenses and what they can bring to the table.
3. The Big Boys
I’ll continue to say it. Timmy Jernigan will make you forget the name Ngata in a hurry. Him and Brandon Williams have both been wrecking balls up front. They’ve constantly been in the Eagles backfield in practice, and I expect it will carry over tomorrow. Carl Davis has been a joy to watch as well. He’ll be giving those guys a breather through the year and , he’ll get plenty of action into the 2nd half tomorrow. And then the offensive line. Only the best in the league. Marshal Yanda and crew bullied D-lines last year and it looks like nothing’s changed this year. The Ravens will be getting their yards on the ground regardless of who’s toting the rock. Love watching good hard football on the ground.
That’s what I got for this week. 23 days til we’re back in the high life again. Enjoy.