Thu, 18 Aug 2022

10 Takeaways From First Week of Training Camp

Baltimore Ravens
01 Aug 2022, 05:25 GMT+10

Clifton Brown

The Ravens will hold their first padded practice on Monday after taking Sunday off.

With four practices in the books, here are 10 takeaways from the first week of training camp:

Wide Receivers Are Stacking Strong Days

Rashod Bateman, James Proche II and Devin Duvernay have been consistent every day, responding to the responsibility of leading a young receiver group. Speculation that the Ravens may add a veteran wide receiver will continue, but Jaylon Moore had a spectacular catch Saturday night and Shemar Bridges had a strong opening week. The wide receivers have stepped up, and after the trade that sent Marquise Brown to Arizona, Bateman looks comfortable as the No. 1 guy.

"He does the same thing every practice," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Every practice is the same. He's very consistent. And we tell the guys, the true testament of mental toughness is consistency - the ability to do it not just once, but every day, day after day, [and] he's certainly doing it."

Lamar Jackson Is Having His Most Impressive Camp

Lamar Jackson came to training camp focused. He's stronger, he has made numerous pinpoint throws, and he doesn't seem the least bit distracted by negotiations for a contract extension. Jackson handles things his own way and said on Thursday, "I don't like people in my business at all. It's my business. If I wanted it to get out there, I would put it out there myself." Jackson said he was "hopeful" a new deal would get done before the season begins. But either way, he looks determined to have his best season, handling his business both on and off the field.

Young Cornerbacks Are Playing With Swag

Young cornerbacks Jalyn Armour-Davis, Brandon Stephens and Pepe Williams are playing with physicality and challenging wide receivers to get open. They're winning some battles, they're losing some battles, but they're competing and playing with confidence. With the departures of Anthony Averett, Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith, the Ravens' cornerback depth behind Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters will have a much different look. Baltimore signed veteran Kyle Fuller, who will also battle for reps, but in Week 1 of camp, the younger corners brought swag and intensity to the sessions.

Ben Cleveland Needs to Get Conditioning Test Behind Him

This was supposed to be Ben Cleveland's chance to win the starting job at left guard, and it still could be. But he can't compete until he passes the conditioning test and gets on the field. Missing the first four days of training camp hurt Cleveland's case, and the sooner he gets on the field the better.

Baltimore's Safety Depth Is Impressive

New Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald will continue to evaluate the best way to utilize Baltimore's depth at safety. But it's a blessing to have so much talent and versatility at one position. Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, Kyle Hamilton, Tony Jefferson and Geno Stone all got reps Saturday night and showed parts of their different skill sets. There's no question the Ravens have the potential to be much better in pass coverage after ranking last in the NFL in pass defense in 2021.

Isaiah Likely Is Buying What Mark Andrews Is Selling

After an outstanding week of pass catching, Isaiah Likely has a definite chance to earn meaningful reps as a rookie tight end. Likely's talent is obvious and talking every day with an elite route runner like Mark Andrews gives Likely insight into the nuances of getting open. Jackson already referred to Likely as "Baby Mark" this week, and Likely said his development was being accelerated due to Andrews' knowledge.

"Having the best tight end in my mind, Mark Andrews, in the league, (I'm) really just hearing what he has to say off my routes, off my blocking techniques, off my steps and just taking it like a sponge," Likely said.

Michael Pierce Is Making His Prescence Felt

After missing mandatory minicamp for personal reasons, veteran defensive tackle Michael Pierce is back and moving bodies off the line of scrimmage. He passed the conditioning test, he's happy to be back, and he still has more than a month before the Week 1 opener to get in regular season shape. That's a good sign for Baltimore's defensive front.

Travis Jones Is a Rookie to Watch

Pierce gave a strong endorsement to third-round defensive tackle Travis Jones after Saturday night's stadium practice.

"Did you see him tonight?" Pierce said. "That's all you need to know. Physically gifted. For a big dude he can really move. As soon as he gets his technique down...."

Jones could begin to shine more once padded practices begin Monday.

Justin Tucker Looks Like Himself

The most accurate kicker in NFL history drew one of the loudest ovations Saturday night, when Justin Tucker drilled a 60-yard field goal and made it look easy. Rookie punter Jordan Stout is Tucker's new holder, but their learning period appears to be going smoothly.

Jordan Stout Has More Than Just a Strong Leg

Stout's strong leg wasn't the only reason the Ravens drafted him in the fourth round. In addition to booming long punts, the Ravens think Stout can consistently make directional punts that pin opponents deep in their own territory. Stout displayed that Saturday night, hitting two kicks that bounced out of bounds inside the 5-yard line.

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