Sometimes you just sit back and wonder what goes through the minds of pro football players.
It’s hard to believe offensive linemen Orlando Brown Jr., left guard Jermaine Eluemunor and outside linebacker Shane Ray didn’t pass their conditioning tests and weren’t allowed to practice with the Ravens on Thursday.
Only weeks ago, Brown, in his second year, talked about how hard he had worked during the offseason to reshape his body. With Eluemunor, head coach John Harbaugh told him on the final day of the last practice during the offseason that he had to report in shape if he wanted to challenge for a starting position at left guard.
This season was supposed to be important for Ray because he wanted to prove to the rest of the league that he wasn’t injury-prone and could be a top player in the league.
Well, all three had to be disappointing to Harbaugh, even though it was only day one of training camp.
You would figure Brown had learned his lesson after the poor workout he had at the scouting combine before he was drafted. Eluemunor has great size, but I’m just not sure he has the desire or fire to maintain the intensity needed to be a starter in this league.
On the first day of training camp, the Ravens were missing two starting offensive linemen simply because they had not prepared hard or well enough. That’s not a good sign.
Ferguson looks stiff
The Ravens drafted rookie outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson in the third round out of Louisiana Tech, but I’m still concerned about how stiff he plays.
It’s obvious the kid has talent, but he appears too rigid. He does have power with quickness, so it will be interesting to see how he performs when the pads come on.
Defensive tackle Michael Pierce appears to have lost at least 20 pounds but might need to lose another 20 before he is in top playing condition again.
Last year Pierce ended the season as the Ravens’ top lineman and was a threat as both a run stopper and pass rusher. He is a player with tremendous pride, so the expectations are for him to be ready when the season starts.
“[I am] very impressed with the progress Michael Pierce has made,” Harbaugh said. “He has lost a lot of weight. It’s all been good weight loss. He’s maintained his muscle mass. He’s lost the bad weight, the fat weight. He still has a ways to go, but he passed the conditioning test. That’s quite an accomplishment, especially for a big man like that. I’m impressed with what he’s done, and I’m very confident he will get the job done.”
Rookie receiver Miles Boykin can go up and get the ball, but he needs to improve his route running. He is slow going in and out of breaks, which means he runs at the same speed all the time.
That’s a big no-no in the NFL.
But he had some moments Thursday and it wasn’t a bad opening-day performance for the third-round draft pick out of Notre Dame.
I hope second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson shook off a lot of rust in practice Thursday. If it was divided into four quarters, he would have played poorly in the first and third.
First-day grade: C-
At one point, he threw three straight passes that were the worst long balls I have ever seen in a practice or game. Those passes had incredible hang and would have been mistaken and shot for ducks if there were any hunters in the crowd.
Yes, they were that bad.
Message to Lamar: You have to get the index finger set properly before throwing.
Strength at weak side
For what it is worth at this point, second-year player Chris Board started at weak-side linebacker Thursday and that could change with second-year performer Kenny Young pushing him for playing time.
But Board has always shown a knack for being around the ball and was one of the team’s top special-teams performers last season. It might be his time to shine.
‘’Yes, I looked over and saw a golf cart, and I thought it was [Terrell Suggs] driving the cart, but I had to snap back into it,” Ravens middle linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said of thinking about some of the departed veterans. “It was ‘Big Baby’ [Brandon Williams] on the cart. Just those types of moments, you start having a little bit of flashback, but you have to kind of get over it and step up into the new role.”