Setting the scene: The Ravens practiced in shorts and shells in a no-contact practice that began on a cool, sunny morning around 8:30 a.m. and extended until around 1 p.m. Practice was almost eerie, with players seeming to know the spectacle that was about to follow after practice.
Juiced: Second-year fullback Kyle Jusczcyzk is going to be a receiving threat out of the backfield, but he has shown his blocking capabilities over the past two days. Wednesday, he squared up and took down veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs on a Ray Rice run play, and Thursday he made a great seal on the outside to spring a long Bernard Pierce run.
Giving them Fitz: Rookie running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is a player whose skills are becoming more apparent by the day, and he had a strong practice Thursday, especially in the return game. During punt returns, he faked out a charging Anthony Levine so badly that his teammates all took notice. His skills were recognized by Pierce, who imitated his juke by doing the “stanky leg” dance.
Super Steve: Wide receiver Steve Smith had more examples of his ability to catch everything thrown his way, with one sideline catch from quarterback Joe Flacco standing out. Smith reached behind him and plucked the ball from the air just as cornerback Chykie Brown went for the interception, and he was staring back at Brown in amusement for his first few steps down the field.
Captain Checkdown: This is more of a general observation, but the Ravens quarterbacks are learning about Gary Kubiak’s offense and that it’s OK to take what’s given. In training camp, that’s a lot of screen passes and flat routes, which makes for a boring day. Whether the routes are just the base of the offense or more than that remains to be seen.
Fool me once: Wide receiver Marlon Brown got a step on cornerback Jimmy Smith on a deep crossing route late in practice, but he had what would have been a nice gain on a perfect Flacco pass bounce off his hands. It’s hard for anyone to get separation on Smith, and on a similar route during the next series, Smith smothered Brown and Flacco had to look elsewhere. He wasn’t getting beat again.
Overtime hero: The team worked on overtime situations at the end of practice, and rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley was almost singularly responsible for a goal line stand. He stuffed Rice on a second-down screen pass, then was draped all over tight end Dennis Pitta in pass coverage in the end zone on third down to force a field goal. Mosley is featured in this space every day for a reason — he’s going to be good.
Touchdown Tucker: The light practice left plenty of down time for the special teams players, which left plenty of time for kicker Justin Tucker to drag his toes for a touchdown catch from long snapper Morgan Cox. The kicker probably did six different touchdown dances, each more outlandish than the last.
Injury report: Timmy Jernigan and Brent Urban were both absent. Urban has a torn right ACL, and Jernigan missed with back spasms. Suggs, wide receiver Jacoby Jones, nose tackle Haloti Ngata and running back Justin Forsett were given days off, while long-term absentees who missed practice again included inside linebacker Daryl Smith (groin), cornerback Lardarius Webb (back spasms), and guard Will Rackley (head). Rookie wide receiver Jeremy Butler was also absent.
Quotable: “Caught in the spider web.” – Coaching intern and NFL veteran wide receiver Donte Stallworth, after rookie wideout Jace Davis lept into the air and pulled down a bullet from Tyrod Taylor.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun