Mike Preston’s observations on Ravens’ Justice Hill, under-the-radar performers, passing game and more

It looks like rookie running back Justice Hill might become a bigger weapon than expected for the Ravens this season.

Hill, a fourth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State, was expected to be used primarily as a pass catcher out of the backfield on third-and-long situations. But he could also be used as a change-of-pace back in the second half or as a decoy.


Ideally, the Ravens want to pound the football, and they have two good downhill runners in Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards. But if the Ravens get a lead and can wear teams down, that might be a great time to use Hill.

The kid has good speed and the ability to get to the line of scrimmage or into a hole and bounce outside. He looks smaller than the 5 feet 10 and 200 pounds he is listed at on the team roster, but he might give the Ravens a weapon they haven’t had at running back since the days of Ray Rice.


Dropping the ball

You can tell the Ravens were starting to get tired of the number of dropped passes at practice Wednesday.

Second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson doesn’t always throw the tightest spirals, but dropped passes by Jaleel Scott, De’Lance Turner, Charles Scarff and Antoine Wesley, among others, were on target and hit them square in the hands.

When players get tired, the first thing that goes isn’t always the body, but sometimes the mind, which causes a lack of concentration.

Better discipline

The Ravens appeared to cut down on the number of false starts at practice.


But tackle Greg Senat jumped offsides once, and this has happened so often that fans are starting to yell, “Go take a lap!”

Shortly after he was identified as the culprit, Senat took the long jog down the left sideline. Bye-bye.

Thomas a pro

Safety Earl Thomas III was known for being physical when he was with the Seattle Seahawks, but he is well-disciplined.

On running plays, he takes well-calculated and precise pursuit angles and always gets in a breakdown position before he makes a tackle. Coaches teach that kind of stuff in recreation football, but that’s not always the case in the NFL.

It’s nice seeing a pro work on the field.

Noticing McPhee

I haven’t seen much from outside linebacker Pernell McPhee this camp, but he got some pressure on the quarterback several times Wednesday.

The Ravens desperately need to find another pass rusher, and McPhee and Shane Ray were two veterans the Ravens were counting on to fill the void left by Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, who signed elsewhere during the offseason.

Power pair

If you just want to see raw power at its best, go watch defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce hit the sled at the same time, moving on the snap of the ball.

The drill gives you an inside look at how big and fast these players are and how severe the jolts they deliver are on initial contact.

Then magnify that on goal-line situations, when all of that humanity is in close quarters and everybody is fighting for just a couple of inches.

Backers can bring it

I thought former Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan was one fierce competitor when it came to delivering a blow or being able to shock and shed and get off a block.

But both inside linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Kenny Young can bring it, too. That wasn’t always the case a year ago, but it appears both players had good offseasons in the weight room.

Jackson flashes arm

In practice Wednesday, Jackson threw one of the best passes of his career. He threw across the field to receiver Seth Roberts on a crossing route, and on the next play threw a perfect strike to Miles Boykin on a comeback route.

Jackson has arm strength, but just isn’t consistent in making those long throws.

Most of his completions during practice are often inside the numbers and appear to be by design.

Don’t forget Canady

There hasn’t been much written or said about fourth-year cornerback Maurice Canady, but he is more physical than a year ago and doesn’t mind taking on receivers at the line of scrimmage.

Canady is 6-1, weighs 193 pounds and has long arms, which is great for a physical corner.

Lasley cut

The Ravens cut second-year wide receiver Jordan Lasley.

The reason was simple: Lasley was a head case and that’s all you need to know. His production didn’t compensate for the attitude.

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