By Matt Vensel, The Baltimore Sun
9:02 PM EDT, August 4, 2013
SETTING THE SCENE: Sunday's open practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis started at 4:50 p.m. and ended at 7:45 p.m. The stadium was about half full with fans. Weather was sunny with temperatures in the high 70s. Players were in full pads for the seventh straight practice.
TAYLOR-MADE TD DRIVE: Tyrod Taylor hasn't exactly impressed during training camp, but the backup quarterback led the second-team offense on a 71-yard touchdown drive in the two-minute drill. Outside of one play where he rolled to his left and completed a pass to sliding wide receiver Marlon Brown, Taylor stood in the pocket and took what the defense gave him. He completed passes to five different receivers while going 7-for-9. Taylor capped off the drive by floating a nice deep ball into the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown to rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette.
GETTING BLITZED: The first-team offense converted three of eight third-down plays in the 11-on-11 blitz period. Quarterback Joe Flacco hit wide receiver Deonte Thompson on a slant for one first down and also lobbed a ball over the head of cornerback Chykie Brown to wide receiver Torrey Smith, who probably would have taken it to the house if the play wasn't blown dead. In that period, Flacco completed five of his eight attempts and had a respectable 37.5 third-down conversion rate.
BURNING BROWN: It wasn't a good practice for Brown, who got picked on by Flacco and Smith. There was that would-be touchdown in the blitz period, then Flacco went after him on a drive late in practice. He completed three passes to Smith, including a jump ball down the sideline and a slant to Smith in the end zone. The Maryland product dunked on the uprights after dusting Brown for the touchdown, much to the delight of the crowd.
SHOWING HE BELONGS: Thompson has gotten a lot of reps with the first-team offense during camp and worked almost exclusively with the ones on Sunday. He was Flacco's favorite target and he got open in a variety of ways. He was very effective out of the slot, including one play where he ran a skinny post, snatched a pass and moved the chains. On another play, Thompson was lined up on the outside and got behind cornerback Corey Graham, but Flacco overshot him.
DEVELOPING DUAL THREAT: We saw last season what running back Bernard Pierce was capable of as a runner, and he has looked good in that area during training camp, but he has also impressed in passing situations. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield was a question when he came out of college, but he has caught a number of passes in camp when lined up as a sidecar while Flacco was in the shotgun. And when asked to pass block, which is key for third-down backs, he is willing and appears to be capable. I'm sure the Ravens will prefer to use Ray Rice on third downs, but maybe there is room for both of them in certain situations.
HOW THE HECK?: It's hard to throw it over Tommy Streeter's head, but Caleb Hanie isn't just any quarterback. The third-stringer sailed one sideline pass over the outstretched arms of 6-foot-5 wide-out. It was one of a few errant passes for Hanie in a failed two-minute drill drive.
HE'S HUMAN: Justin Tucker missed three field goals, which is about as many as he had missed throughout camp before Sunday. But no need to panic. All three misses came from beyond 55 yards. His 68-yard attempt hit the base of the uprights and his 63-yard try clanked off the crossbar. Don't be surprised if the Ravens let Tucker kick a 60-plus-yarder in a game if they need him to.
INJURY REPORT: Guard Ramon Harewood (knee) returned to practice after being sidelined for a week. Safety James Ihedigbo (neck) and wide receiver David Reed (groin) did not practice after sustaining injuries Friday. Guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and linebacker Jameel McClain (bruised spine) remained sidelined. Ed Dickson left practice with a hamstring injury but coach John Harbaugh said that Dickson should be OK.
OVERHEARD: "Hey pretty girl, can I get your autograph?" — a little boy to one of the Ravens cheerleaders as players signed autographs after practice.
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