Safety Eric Weddle brings a skill set to the back end of the defense that the Ravens have lacked. But in watching him at last week's organized team activities, it was what he was doing when he wasn't on the field that stood out to me most.
As other players got repetitions, Weddle stood alongside defensive backs coach Chris Hewitt and peppered him with questions. If he wasn't next to Hewitt, he was in a conversation with another Ravens defensive back discussing the previous play.
Communication in the back end of the defense has been a significant issue for the Ravens the past couple of years, resulting in far too many blown coverages and big plays allowed. Weddle's presence alone should fix some of those problems.
>> You'd only have to watch practice for five minutes to know the Ravens defensive coaches will prioritize creating turnovers this summer. It was a non-contact practice but every Raven defender was running to the ball and mimicking going for the turnover. The team also did several drills on stripping the ball with running backs coach Thomas Hammock working with the linebackers on their technique. I can't recall seeing Ravens position coaches working extensively with other position groups in past years, but there were several instances of it last week. Perhaps, that's part of the changes Ravens coach John Harbaugh has planned for this year.
>> The Ravens drafted Boise State's Kamalei Correa in the second round because of his pass-rushing ability. However, his addition is one more reason the Ravens seem comfortable with the inside linebackers they have. Correa played that spot quite a bit last week and the Ravens also have Zachary Orr, Arthur Brown and Albert McClellan who can play alongside C.J. Mosley. The Ravens have the salary cap space and roster flexibility, but I'm not sure there's a free agent linebacker available that makes sense to bring in.
>> I'm not sure how Darren Waller's transition to tight end will work out but the former wide receiver certainly looks the part for his new position. Waller, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, is a physical specimen. It looks like another offseason in the weight room has done him good.
>> A couple of other guys I thought looked really good physically: While the attention was on his new uniform number, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan looked very quick and explosive. The Ravens need him to become a consistent force, not a guy who just flashes on occasion. Outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith appeared much more comfortable than he was last year. No disrespect to Courtney Upshaw, a quality player, but I think Smith could give the Ravens a nice boost at the strong-side linebacker spot. Running back Terrance West's improved conditioning has been well documented. It showed with a couple of cuts he was able to make that we didn't see last year.
>> That running back Trent Richardson has been sidelined for the past couple of weeks with a hamstring injury is more damaging to his roster chances than Michael Campanaro's calf strain is to his. Competing with West and Lorenzo Taliaferro maybe for one spot, Richardson badly needs to get on the field, knock off the rust and prove he can be a quality back. The Ravens know what Campanaro can do if he is healthy. While the Ravens have a bunch of receivers competing for probably two spots, Campanaro would have the edge on most of those guys because of his return ability and familiarity with Joe Flacco and the offense.
>> One of the best developments for the Ravens from last week's OTAs was rush linebacker Terrell Suggs being in the building and rehabbing his surgically repaired Achilles. Suggs traditionally doesn't show until the mandatory minicamp. Obviously, the big test will come when he's able to get back on the field. However, there has to be a curiosity from many in the building about where Suggs is mentally and physically. After all, he's been away from the team since the injury occurred in Week 1 last season. It's a good sign he was back around his coaches and teammates.
>> I'd be hard pressed to find anybody who would be a better choice to speak to the Ravens' rookies about valuing the opportunity at hand and the importance of making good decisions than Ray Rice. Kudos to both Rice and the Ravens for burying any potential awkward or hard feelings and making that happen. Rice apparently hasn't given up on a return to the NFL, but it wouldn't surprise me if he became a bit more involved with the team in a mentoring capacity in the future.
>> Interesting note Sunday by the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, who pointed out that 17 of the 46 draft picks who remain unsigned were third-rounders. That includes the Ravens' Bronson Kaufusi, the team's only unsigned pick. Citing Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com, Volin writes the third round is the only round where the drafted player can negotiate a higher base salary. I'm not sure why that's the case, but that certainly explains why so many third-round picks remain unsigned.