PHILADELPHIA — Setting the scene: The Ravens began stretching and getting used to their surroundings on the field around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, dressed in full pads for the first of three practices with the Philadelphia Eagles at their NovaCare Complex. Practice began at 11:30, and they finished around 2 p.m.
Hometown jitters for Flacco: Quarterback Joe Flacco made no big proclamations about how much it meant for him to be practicing so close to home, and certainly didn't play like he was doing anything extra for his hometown fans. Flacco wasn't at his best, getting intercepted by former Ravens draft pick Marc Anthony in one-on-one drills, and didn't complete much downfield all day. Walter Thurmond picked him off in 11-on-11s, though Flacco got better as the day went on.
Vanilla ice: No one was in any hurry to give away state secrets with another team around. The Ravens ran a very basic form of their offense in 7-on-7 and full-team drills, with mostly inside runs and play-action passes. The Ravens didn't throw downfield much at all, instead using the grind-it-out nature of their offense to introduce themselves to the Eagles.
Slot success: Wide receivers Michael Campanaro and Tom Nelson were frequent targets early in practice — Campanaro caught a pair of touchdown passes with slick moves in the red zone portion of 7-on-7 drills, and Nelson found space in the seam several times. Nelson has carved out a nice role in the offense as camp has progressed.
Eagles defense loud: Perhaps because there just aren't many vocal characters on the Ravens offense, they were drowned out by the Eagles defense early in practice. They whooped it up after every big play and taunted Ravens running back Justin Forsett after stuffing him in the backfield.
Steve Smith Sr. a peacemaker? Ravens veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. made no qualms about not being fond of these joint practices, and intervened after Eagles outside linebacker Brandon Graham tackled fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the flat. Smith used colorful language to let Graham know what would happen if he kept tackling. I think Graham got the message. Juszczyk said afterward it meant a lot that everyone had his back in that situation. Smith said "nobody punks my Juice but me."
The whistle is meaningless: Receivers and running backs are encouraged during Ravens practices to sprint through defenders' touches in noncontact drills, even if the play is dead. That played right into the Eagles' defensive strategy. After each play, even well after the whistle, their defenders tried to punch the ball out of the Ravens ballcarrier's hands. Tight end Nick Boyle and receiver Tom Nelson fell victim to it, and fullback Kiero Small took exception to it and held onto the ball, jawing with the defender as he did.
Injury report: Starting right tackle Rick Wagner injured his left leg on a run play, exiting play around halfway through practice and not taking another snap. Guard John Urschel (concussion) returned for limited participation after missing nearly two full weeks of practice, while tight end Maxx Williams was back after missing one-and-a-half practices. Cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) remained out and has missed a week of football. Other absences included guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), reserve right tackle Jah Reid, undrafted rookie tackle Darryl Baldwin, and outside linebacker Steven Means (groin).
Overheard: "Where we going? Where the cheesesteaks, man?" Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams after practice. In the unfamiliar setting at NovaCare Complex, the Ravens had to take off their pads outside the facility, then head inside, and no one really told them where to go. Williams, if no one else, seemed to have somewhere to be.