By Matt Vensel, The Baltimore Sun
8:51 PM EDT, August 18, 2013
SETTING THE SCENE: Sunday's open practice at Stevenson University started at 5 p.m. and finished around 7:40 p.m. The sky was overcast and temperatures were in the low 70s. Players wore full pads for a second straight practice. The open practice served as the unofficial end of training camp, which technically wrapped up a few days ago.
PUTTING ON A SHOW: The Ravens held their final open practice of the summer at Mustang Stadium and started the evening by goofing around in front of the hundreds of fans in the bleachers. Running back Ray Rice stretched with the defensive linemen, who each have about six inches and 100 or so pounds on him. After muffing a punt in warmups, returner Jacoby Jones caught the next one and playfully looked to the crowd for approval. And as "Sweet Home Alabama" blared over the stadium speakers, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs attempted to field a Sam Koch punt. Coach John Harbaugh laughed at Suggs as the ball sailed over Suggs' head.
FLACCO STRIKES BACK: Quarterback Joe Flacco has struggled at times during practice the past couple of weeks and his sloppiest practice might have been Saturday, when he was intercepted four times in team drills. But Flacco responded with a sharp practice Sunday. In one drill inside the 10-yard line, he completed five of his eight attempts with one touchdown, but it should have been more. His receivers couldn't hang on to three of his throws, including two in the end zone. In the blitz period, he went 4-for-7 with two touchdowns and one pass for a first down. And in a late-game scenario at the end of practice, Flacco moved his offense into field-goal territory with five straight completions.
DOSS DEMOTED?: It was just one practice, but it was surprising to see wide receiver Tandon Doss standing on the side as rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette got some snaps with the first-team offense. Brown and Flacco looked to be out of sync early, but the quarterback had instant chemistry with Mellette. On one play near midfield, Flacco used a pump-fake to freeze cornerback Chris Johnson and floated a perfect pass to Mellette in the end zone. Doss made the most of his snaps with the first team, though, catching a few passes. Mellette also dropped a couple passes.
PLAYING TO THE WHISTLE: Starting middle linebacker Daryl Smith has quickly won over the respect of his teammates with his preparation and practice habits. He plays to the whistle on practically every play, whether he is trying to swat the ball out of the hands of a receiver or slapping a running back across the shoulder pads to touch him down at the end of a run. So far, Smith looks to be a great fit for this defense as the team transitions into life without Ray Lewis.
JUICE GETS LOOSE: Rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who played a lot of snaps in the slot at Harvard, has occasionally flashed pass-catching ability since the start of training camp. Sunday was one of those days. He got a few snaps with the first-team offense and lined up in the slot. On one play, he fired off the line of scrimmage and caught a pass over the middle between safeties Christian Thompson and Brynden Trawick. Juszczyk was quickly in the clear and scored a 40-yard touchdown.
SOPHOMORE STRUGGLES: A few Ravens selected on the final day of the 2012 draft have struggled throughout the summer. Thompson, a fourth-round pick, hasn't done anything to distinguish himself and has been buried on the third-team defense. Fifth-round cornerback Asa Jackson has routinely been picked on by quarterbacks. Those two have been suspended by the NFL for the start of the season, so they won't count against the first 53-man roster, but sixth-round wide receiver Tommy Streeter and seventh-round defensive end DeAngelo Tyson are on the roster bubble with cuts looming next week.
INJURY REPORT: Wide receiver Torrey Smith, whose left calf was wrapped during Saturday's practice, did not practice Sunday. Running back Anthony Allen was also missing Sunday after practicing Saturday. Tight end Ed Dickson (torn right hamstring), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (left foot), strong-side linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin), defensive end Marcus Spears (hamstring), and weak-side linebacker Jameel McClain (bruised spine) remained sidelined.
OVERHEARD: "I couldn't stop!" — cornerback Lardarius Webb, who is being eased into contact drills, after he hit Mellette following the wide receiver's first-down catch late in practice.
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