Observations from Friday’s practice:
About an hour into the practice, running back Andre Collins beat inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor down the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown.
I felt happy for Collins because he has worked hard to improve on his hands and become a weapon out of the backfield in the passing game.
But there is a re-emerging pattern here of the Ravens not having a linebacker who can cover a running back out of the backfield. It was obvious again Friday, but it was glaring on Thursday when the Ravens offense ate up the defense on shallow and deep crossing routes.
When I see these running backs and tight ends getting open in practice, I keep thinking of Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell and how he has taken advantage of the Ravens linebackers in one-on-one situations.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley has improved in pass coverage through the years, but is still a liability. Onwuasor’s play has been inconsistent and the Ravens like rookie Kenny Young, but not enough to replace Onwuasor yet.
The Ravens might end up playing more nickel and dime coverage than they want and that would help for a while. But when that occurs, opposing teams start running the ball and chipping away at the defense.
Fortunately for the Ravens, the season is still young and there is ample time to find some answers.
“The biggest thing about Kenny Young is he plays fast,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “He closes. He covers ground really well, which is also Patrick’s strength, so we have some real speed at linebacker. It’ll be a fun battle to watch unplay. Patrick is still ahead, because Patrick is playing pretty well also. That probably speaks to how Kenny is playing that it’s even mentioned as fight right now.”
Rookie tight end Hayden Hurst jumped offsides and was replaced in the starting lineup by Maxx Williams. Once replaced, Hurst took a lap jogging down the left sideline. I didn’t know if he was punishing himself but I liked the idea.
Nearly 30 minutes later, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley jumped offsides and was replaced immediately. So, I am assuming Harbaugh is trying to clean up before the season starts.
Now, if only he can cut down on all the fumbles between the centers and quarterbacks. Even when the quarterback is up underneath the center, the Ravens have dropped a couple of exchanges.
The T-I-M-B-E-R award goes to guard Cameron Lee who got trucked by defensive end Chris Wormley during a pass-rush drill. Lee went down like a good-sized redwood.
He won’t be happy watching that on video.
A friend of mine (yes, I only have one) was watching practice Tuesday and she believed that the quarterbacks were intentionally not throwing receiver Breshad Perriman the ball.
I didn’t believe that.
And then on Friday, the Ravens are running a pass play and Perriman is doing almost a 20-yard curl. He looked like he had given up and then quarterback Joe Flacco rifles this pass to him in the chest.
Perriman caught the ball but it was made more in self-protection than him extending his hands and then pulling in his arms to secure the ball.
Was a message being sent? I don’t know, but if Perriman doesn’t make the catch he would have had a nice hole in the middle of his chest.
Leadership on the field
Outside linebacker Matthew Judon had a nice time toasting right offensive tackle Orlando Brown during a pass protection drill in which the offensive line was trying to pick up stunts and twists by the defensive line.
Judon, though, would take time out to work with Brown explaining the stunt and what the D-linemen were trying to accomplish.
That’s a good sign as far as leadership because Judon is only in his third year. He improved a lot last year on the field and is taking another step this season as far as helping others.
I don’t know if Florida rookie running back Mark Thompson will make the team, but he does have some football smarts about him. There was one play where Flacco was scrambling and Thompson, who had faked a quick screen, took off up the left sideline and made a good catch on a back shoulder throw by Flacco.
He turned a possible sack into a 15-yard gain. Those kinds of things are impressive and they add up when personnel decisions are made.
History of injuries
Third-year cornerback Maurice Canady has potential but he also has more arms than an octopus. The young lad from Virginia loves to hold.
While on the subject of cornerbacks, Harbaugh said he was happy with the group he has in camp even though there are reports the Ravens are interested in free agent Bashaud Breeland.
Overall, this secondary is good and deep but the group has had a history with a lot of injuries over the last three years.
My concern, though, is with guard Alex Lewis, who didn’t practice Friday with what is believed to be some sort of ankle injury. He’s another player who has missed extensive time during his first two seasons in the NFL.
“Nothing serious,” said Harbaugh of any team injuries. “It’s just training camp stuff, nothing serious.”
Big man in shallow coverage
I understand the Ravens using 6-foot-7 and 275-pound Bronson Kaufusi as an outside linebacker, especially in pass-rushing situations. But on Friday, they had him dropping into shallow coverage.
And oh my, that was not fun to watch.