Mike Preston's observations: Jernigan appears to be working his way back

Will Timmy Jernigan's return from injury boost a defensive line that has taken some hits in training camp?

Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan might be out of practice for another day or two. He hasn’t practiced since Aug. 8 with a foot injury.

Jernigan, in his second year out of Florida State, put on his jersey, shorts and shoulder pads with the rest of the team at Saturday’s practice, but only participated in individual drills, not in team sessions.

But Jernigan looked good while working techniques on a blocking dummy and he showed good explosion coming off the snap of the ball. But he still seemed a little timid going hard in full pursuit after taking two or three steps.

After working on the snap count several times, Jernigan told an assistant coach his foot felt okay once the drill was completed. During training camp, he has been the team’s most impressive player.

Short-yardage offense needs work

I’m still concerned about the Ravens in short-yardage situations especially without a good, lead blocking fullback on the roster. It’s still early, but I think offensive coordinator Marc Trestman might put an additional offensive lineman in the backfield in those situations.

If not, an unbalanced line might be another answer to that problem.

LBs need to work on deeper drops

A consistent problem the Ravens have had in recent years, and again on Thursday night against New Orleans, is that their linebackers never seem to get deep drops in pass coverage, and opposing teams have been able to throw over top of them and in front of safeties.

Maybe the problem comes in practice because the Ravens have faced West Coast offenses the past two years which are predicated on short passes. The Ravens don’t get the depth because they don’t have to deal with it often, and they also don’t see a lot of speed, either.

Reid making an impression

Maybe offensive tackle Jah Reid is starting to come into his own in his fifth season.

Against the Saints, he had two instances where he finished off blocks well. These weren’t just pancakes, but get in your face, knock you down, pile driving, Summer Slam, Wrestlemania finishes.

Reid is running well, too.

“First of all, he has stayed healthy,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Reid. “He got his weight down from OTAs. It was a problem. He’s way down; he’s under 320. He’s very lean, and he has stayed healthy. He has continued to improve every single practice. He just has to continue to do that.”

Finding the tight end

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco loves to throw the back shoulder passes over the middle to his tight ends in the end zone. He previously had Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels and seems to have now linked up with Crockett Gillmore.

But Gillmore, because of his height, can also work the fade routes in the corner of the end zones as well.

Missing Jacoby Jones

The Ravens usually play loud music at some point during practice and these are the periods where I miss former receiver Jacoby Jones, who signed as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers.

He’d just start dancing and it was welcomed relief because training camp practices are often long, hot and tedious. The Ravens played Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean the other day, and this would have been the perfect moment for Jacoby.

Paging C.J. Mosley

Is second-year linebacker C.J. Mosley on the roster?

I haven’t seen him make many plays in training camp and often saw him trailing receivers and running backs after catches in the Saints game.

Let's not get carried away

Rookie defensive end/outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith had a decent game against New Orleans, but let’s not go overboard. He has had flashes in practices where he has done well, but the Ravens are probably gearing him up for more of a late season run than a strong early season showing.

His fresh legs could come in handy in November and December.

“You hope every one of those guys has a huge impact as a pass rusher,” said Harbaugh. “You never know who it’s going to be, necessarily. Obviously, the top guys are going to do well, but those young guys, which of those guys is really going to step up and make a difference? He’s definitely a candidate for it. He still has a long way to go. Sometimes he rushed around the quarterback – all of them did – too deep. We opened up some rush lanes inside. It’s not just going and getting the quarterback either. It’s organized, it’s coordinated in terms of not giving up scrambles and losing contain and things like that. But he did OK. He still has a long way to go, just like they all do.”

“I thought he played well; he did. It’s the first preseason game. We’re not going to lavish praise on anybody in the first preseason game,” Harbaugh said. “All the rookies played well. There was nobody that disappointed us that played, and we’re counting on those guys to play big roles for us. But we have a lot of work to do before Denver rolls around. We’re just grinding right now, really. We’re just working right now.”

No argument here

I have a friend, we’ll just call him Paul H., who is consistently in my ear complaining about the Ravens not having training camp at McDaniel College anymore.

He is 80, a former center at at well-known Baltimore City school, and loves to watch football. He’ll tape a Ravens preseason game and watch it three or four times because it allows him to evaluate players, which he can no longer do at McDaniel.

So, Papa Paul said he liked the first and second offensive lines and that Reid stuck out.

“I wanted to know who was wearing that number because that wasn’t the Jah Reid that used to play here,” said Paul H.

He also was impressed with several young players like tight end Nick Boyle, quarterback Bryn Renner and receiver Michael Campanaro.

I can’t argue with him. Boyle has been a favorite of mind before training camp started and Renner has had his moments in training camp. Now, if they can only get his feet to settle down while dropping back.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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