PHILADELPHIA - — There was a lot of chatter after yesterday's joint practice among fans and in the Twitterverse (if that's even a word) about who won the practice and who looked better.
All that stuff is hard to judge and not very important in the grand scheme of things. Both teams clung to the basics – the Eagles even regularly huddled which is a rarity in Chip Kelly's offense – and provided each other different looks for preparation purposes. There was no tackling and whistles often blew the play dead right after a completion or not long after a ball carrier broke the line of scrimmage.
So it would be foolish to draw too many conclusions. Just on the Ravens, their perceived strengths generally looked strong, and their question marks mostly looked like question marks. It appeared that holes were opening up in their running game and their first-team defense looked good against the run.
But Joe Flacco wasn't particularly sharp and the passing game didn't generate much down the field, and the linebackers and defensive backs struggled at times in coverage. Nothing I saw yesterday in what was a mostly uneventful and subdued practice changed my opinion about the team in any way.
The Ravens' speed on the outside and the receivers ability to get separation has to be a concern, especially with Breshad Perriman sidelined. And the secondary still has many questions to answer. We'll see what today brings.
Tight ends dropping the ball
The Ravens three young tight ends – second-year pro Crockett Gillmore and rookies Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle – have done some nice things in training camp. The Ravens should be excited about their progress, but one area in which they need to improve is pass catching.
Williams and Boyle, in particular, have dropped way too many passes this summer. None of the three have really good speed, so when they get open, they're going to have to catch the ball or Flacco is not going to keep throwing the ball in their direction.
Buck Allen shows up
Rookie running back Buck Allen had a real nice practice on Wednesday. Sure, there was no tackling involved, but Allen was finding holes and bursting through them with no hesitation. With Justin Forsett coming off of a career season and Lorenzo Taliaferro emerging as a threat as well, it could be hard for Allen to get involved. But the Ravens need a find a way to get the ball in his hands a handful of times a game.
Reid injured again
I don't know exactly what injury offensive tackle Jah Reid is dealing with, but it's been typical of his career that he has a health issue just when he appeared to be turning the corner.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and others at the Under Armour Performance Center were singing his praises after Reid played such a physical game in the team's preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Three different guards (Kelechi Osemele, John Urschel and Robert Myers) were sidelined and Reid was able to take advantage of the increased repetitions. But now, he too is dealing with an injury.
When starting right tackle Rick Wagner went down with an injury in yesterday's workout, it would have been a great opportunity for Reid to step in and get some playing time with the first-team offensive line. Instead, he was on the shelf and James Hurst capably played right tackle.
Wagner, by the way, looks to have dodged a serious injury. It initially looked bad as Wagner appeared to get caught in a pileup, prompting Harbaugh and teammates to rush forward to help him up.
Wagner got up slowly and limped away. However, he stayed on the field for the rest of practice and was barely walking with a limp by the end of it. With Osemele already dealing with an Achilles issue, the Ravens can't afford another injury to a starting offensive line unit that is touted to be one of the team's major strengths.
Battle to watch
It will be interesting to watch today's practice to see if Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is matched up again with Eagles rookie cornerback Eric Rowe. Rowe slapped away a potential touchdown catch from Smith Sr., a play that got a tremendous amount of attention because of the focus on Philadelphia's retooled secondary.
Smith, in fact, was asked about Rowe three or four different times following the practice, which clearly didn't sit well with the veteran receiver. Like Smith, Rowe played his college ball at Utah, so I'm sure it's nothing personal. But I can't imagine Smith will be overly collegial today if the two players match up.
Baltimore Ravens Insider
Ravens inside linebacker Zach Orr picked off a Matt Barkley pass yesterday and would have probably returned it for a touchdown if the play hadn't been blown dead.
It continued what has been a strong summer for the second pro out of North Texas. Orr made some mistakes in the preseason opener against the Saints, but he's been one of the Ravens' quickest and most physical defensive players throughout training camp.
And with Daryl Smith having turned 33 years old earlier this year and entering his 12th season, Orr could be well on his way to establishing himself as a future defensive starter for the Ravens.
Much is made of the Ravens' success at finding quality rookie free agents, but it's pretty remarkable how many inside linebackers they've added in undrafted free agency. Orr follows in a long line of players that includes Bart Scott, Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan.
Ravens safety Terrence Brooks, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list on earlier this week, has looked rusty in his first couple of practices back, letting receivers get behind him for big plays on a couple of occasions.
But that is to be expected. Brooks sustained a significant knee injury in December. That he's been fully cleared to be back on the field eight months later and he doesn't look held back physically is pretty remarkable and says a lot about how hard the safety worked. Now, he just needs to knock of the rust because the Ravens need him.