Ravens outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson’s training camp has been somewhat of a roller-coaster.
Ferguson was receiving praise from Ravens coaches entering camp, but then the team signed veteran edge rusher Justin Houston, raising some questions about his spot on the 53-man roster. However, Ferguson responded by sharing a sack in the team’s first preseason game and then impressed defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale with his pass rush against the Carolina Panthers last week.
The former third-round draft pick said Thursday he feels he’s improving and that he’s “trying to stay relaxed” ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to trim the roster to 53 players.
“Going into my third year, I’ve got a little bit more experience,” Ferguson said. “I’ve got a great group of guys around me, leading me the right way. Everything’s clicking for me right now. I’m trying to keep it rolling.”
In his first two seasons, Ferguson totaled 61 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 28 regular-season games. After playing about 51% of the team’s defensive snaps in his rookie campaign, Ferguson was on the field only 28% of the time last year, and he was a healthy scratch for both of the Ravens’ playoff games.
Early in the preseason, Martindale and outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins both hyped up Ferguson. Martindale in May said Ferguson is “on the rise” and that the Ravens are “expecting a big year out of him,” while Wilkins said during OTAs in June that the linebacker was “checking all the boxes” for the coaching staff.
Ferguson said Thursday he entered training camp this year in better shape, both mentally and physically.
“I took better care of my body, worked on better elements of my game and didn’t focus on just being in the big NFL,” Ferguson said. “Here with the program with [head strength and conditioning coach] Steve Saunders, I’ve gotten bigger and stronger, and that’s going to help me in the run game.”
Ferguson credits part of his improvement this year to the veterans on the Ravens defense, like Houston, Pernell McPhee, Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe.
“I’ve got a bunch of technicians in the room with me who aren’t selfish and are willing to share all their secrets,” Ferguson said. “I’ve grabbed onto some of their secrets and added them to my game.”
>> The Ravens’ offensive line was the healthiest it’s been all training camp Thursday. Almost every offensive lineman practiced, including left tackle Ronnie Stanley, center Bradley Bozeman and guards Kevin Zeitler and Ben Cleveland — all of whom have missed time during camp. “We feel good about it,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Those guys are getting good work together.”
>> Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey missed practice again. Smith hasn’t practiced since Aug. 7 with a low-ankle sprain, while Humphrey has been sidelined with a muscle strain since he left practice Aug. 17.
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>> With the Ravens likely to have only two quarterbacks on the roster heading into the regular season, punter Sam Koch said he’s available if needed as the team’s emergency quarterback. Passing out of the punt formation in his career, Koch has completed all seven of his attempts for 82 yards. “I’m always willing to step up, always willing to practice it out here,” Koch quipped. “I hope it doesn’t get to that point, but if so, I can just shotgun from the punt formation.”