Mike Preston’s Ravens observations on Zay Flowers, Lamar Jackson, players bulking up and more | COMMENTARY

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It’s early and the Ravens have only had a few voluntary workouts, but rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers looks explosive.

The first-round draft pick out of Boston College has shown great acceleration going in and out of his breaks and appears tough for a 5-foot-9, 182-pound receiver. He can play inside in the slot or outside as a vertical threat.


In his senior season in college, Flowers had 78 catches for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns. It’s easy to see why the Ravens put so much faith in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native.

Veteran receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has yet to practice with the team, but Flowers and third-year wideout Rashod Bateman looked good in the practice that was open to the media Wednesday.


After those two, there was a drop-off, including free agent addition Nelson Agholor. Maybe he’ll show more in training camp.

Ravens rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers has shown great acceleration going in and out of his breaks and appears tough for a 5-foot-9, 182-pound receiver, columnist Mike Preston writes.

There’s only one ball

Now that the Ravens have weapons like Beckham, Flowers and Bateman, I wonder how tight end Mark Andrews will react when he has to share the ball. Andrews, a three-time Pro Bowl selection entering his sixth season, has been quarterback Lamar Jackson’s favorite target the past couple of years.

Andrews had 73 catches for 847 yards and five touchdowns last season, and he wasn’t happy with a reduced role in the passing offense. In 2021, he caught 107 passes for 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns.

Greg Lewis and Keith Williams, the Ravens’ wide receivers coaches, have to keep harmony among this group. Receivers have some of the biggest egos in the NFL.

Jackson ramping up

Jackson was on the field Wednesday but only participated in individual drills a month after getting his five-year, reportedly $260 million extension. It’s apparent he isn’t familiar with the offense yet and would have been harshly criticized for some untimely decisions when the offense went against the defense in the 11-on-11 period.

Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens are trying to ramp up Jackson and the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player will be involved more during the next two days. It’s impossible to get a read on Jackson in one day, but he didn’t show up too bulky or overweight as he did at last year’s training camp.

Jackson looked as big as inside linebacker Patrick Queen but seemed to be slimmer and in much better condition.

Monken’s eye for details

New offensive coordinator Todd Monken is a stickler for details. When he wants a receiver to break off a route at 20 yards, it better be 20. It can’t be anything less.


If not, that receiver will get an earful. Just ask rookie Dontay Demus Jr., an undrafted free agent out of Maryland.

When Flowers broke off a route too early, Monken said: “When I want you to go to the pylon, run to the pylon, not to the building.”

Taking attendance

Besides Beckham, some of the most noticeable no-shows were starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley, right guard Kevin Zeitler and running back J.K. Dobbins.

When Jackson didn’t show up for two earlier practices, it was no big deal, even though he needs to learn Monken’s new offense. The three prima donnas — tight end Shannon Sharpe, defensive tackle Tony Siragusa and safety Rod Woodson — didn’t show up for minicamps after the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000.

That’s life in the NFL.

That’s also Ronnie Stanley.


Moses means business

I don’t know starting right tackle Morgan Moses personally, but the 10-year veteran seems to play hard all the time. He appears to be one of those “lunch pail” guys who is going to give you a good day of work no matter what.

Without question, he is one of the most athletic right tackles in Ravens history because of his ability to run and pull. He’ll struggle in pass protection, but you can never question his effort.

His backup, Daniel Faalele, played reasonably well last season as a rookie, but the 380-pound Minnesota product is still slow getting off on the snap.

Ravens cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis has added some thickness in his chest and shoulders, columnist Mike Preston writes.

Sizing ’em up

I always look at body types, especially for players entering their second and third years.

It seemed nearly impossible for second-year defensive tackle Travis Jones to add any thickness to his already 334-pound frame, but he is bigger in every part of his body.

Don’t misinterpret this as him being too big. The former Connecticut star is still explosive and can handle double teams.


Another player who looks bigger is second-year cornerback Jayln Armour-Davis. The Alabama product was small last season but has added some thickness in his chest and shoulders.

The Ravens need him to play well and hopefully become a starter, even though he struggled early last season and was benched.

Don’t worry about Edwards

No. 2 running back Gus Edwards didn’t practice Wednesday but was on the field working out and learning the new offense. Edwards, who returned from a torn ACL last season, has a strong work ethic and looks to be in good shape.

Harbaugh won’t have to worry about him being ready for training camp.

He’s human

Kicker Justin Tucker missed two field goal attempts, one of which hit the uprights. He also hit the post with a nearly 50-yard attempt, but it dropped through.

Tucker is a perfectionist, so it was fun watching him pace the sideline after he missed a second time. Even after one attempt that was good to close out practice, Tucker slammed his helmet to the ground in disgust.


He isn’t used to failure.

From left, Ravens quarterbacks Anthony Brown, Josh Johnson, Tyler Huntley and Lamar Jackson practice throwing during Wednesday's voluntary practice in Owings Mills.

Plays of the day

Second-year outside linebacker David Ojabo blitzed on one play to get the quarterback, then used a spin move to record what would have been two sacks in a row in a live game.

The catch of the day belonged to third-year wide receiver Tylan Wallace, who went up and over rookie cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly for a long reception down to the 2-yard line.

QB to watch

Keep an eye on reserve quarterback Anthony Brown, the 2022 undrafted free agent out of Oregon. I liked him last year. He isn’t a strong runner like Jackson or even backup Tyler Huntley, but he throws a nice ball.

The 6-1, 228-pound Brown also has a strong enough arm to roll out and deliver passes back across his body.

Quote of the day

From Harbaugh: “Tomorrow is a hope, yesterday was a memory.”