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Ravens’ Jackson, Watkins develop connection; Harbaugh doesn’t rule out possible free-agent additions | NOTES

"If you like football and you're a real student of the game, you'll be watching that left guard battle during training camp," said Harbaugh.

During the Ravens’ second day of mandatory minicamp Wednesday, wide receiver Sammy Watkins sped past cornerback Marlon Humphrey to make a reception on a deep pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Watkins has flashed the tools and skill set that made him an appealing free-agent target during the offseason. The play on which Watkins beat Humphrey was one of many occasions when the newly acquired wide receiver and Jackson appeared to be developing a strong on-field connection.

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“[Watkins] and Lamar are getting in a groove,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m very excited about him.”

Jackson said it has been fun working with Watkins, who spent the past three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, accumulating 1,613 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

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Even though Jackson considers Marquise Brown a faster receiver, the former NFL Most Valuable Player says Watkins’ ability to be a deep-ball threat will make things easier for the offense this season.

“He’s going to open up one side of the field a lot more with his deep-ball ability and shifty route-running,” Jackson said. “He is a great receiver and I can’t wait until we start going for real.”

Possible free-agent additions before training camp

Harbaugh mentioned after practice that he won’t rule out a possible free-agent addition before the start of training camp.

“We talked about that quite a bit,” Harbaugh said. “You know with [general manager] Eric [DeCosta] the wheels are always going.”

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NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported June 10 that free-agent running back Todd Gurley visited the Ravens. Former Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Justin Houston is another free-agent veteran the Ravens could look into.

“I’m not too worried about any spot on our team,” Harbaugh said. “But if someone comes available for what we can afford and make sense for us, you always love to have better players if they are the right kind of guys that fit.”

Marlon Humphrey praises wide receivers

Humphrey said he notices an energy change among the team’s wide receivers and feels a tough competition brewing at the position.

“We are going to have a really serious passing attack,” Humphrey said. “It’s going to be a much different year than we have seen from our core. When you got really good wide receivers doing their thing during practice, it makes training camp more realistic.”

Humphrey says receivers like Jaylon Moore, James Proche II and Devin Duvernay have made strides from a season ago. Humphrey credits the receivers for helping the secondary step up its game.

“We pride ourselves on being the best secondary,” Humphrey said. “It’s hard to be a good secondary if you only have two or three good receivers. You want to have it where it’s five or six wide receivers [and] it’s tough on what receivers you pick.”

Humphrey loves what he has seen from rookie Rashod Bateman, who missed minicamp Wednesday due to a stomach virus. Humphrey praised the confidence, saying “if you can get to the NFL, it shows you can play football, but it’s the confidence that will take you to the next level. What makes a lot of receivers great is confidence.”

After facing the Ravens’ 2021 first-round pick during OTAs and minicamp, Humphrey told DeCosta that “we have a pretty good one.”

Extra points

  • Eleven Ravens sat out the second day of minicamp. Harbaugh expects players such as tight end Nick Boyle, cornerback Iman Marshall and fullback Patrick Ricard, who are recovering from injuries, to be ready for training camp. “They might be ready the first day or we might wait a couple of days,” Harbaugh said. “We are going to err on the side of caution with those guys even if they are ready. But I expect them all to be back and playing.”
  • Bateman didn’t practice during the second day of minicamp due to a stomach virus he had Tuesday night. “He was not in good shape today from a sickness standpoint and couldn’t go,” Harbaugh explained. “He had to be sent back to the hotel.”
  • Outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson wasn’t at minicamp Wednesday due to the loss of a family member, according to Harbaugh.
  • Harbaugh said the last day of minicamp will focus on conditioning and meetings with the offense, defense and special teams.
  • Harbaugh mentioned the left guard battle is wide-open. “All of those guys have played to a very high level so far,” Harbaugh said. “I can’t wait to see it play out. If you like football, you will be watching that left guard battle during training camp.”
  • Center Bradley Bozeman said he isn’t focused on a contract extension as he enters the final year of his deal. “I’m here to play good football,” Bozeman said. “That’s between the front office and my agent. I’m here to play winning football.”
  • Harbaugh says he is pleased with what he has seen from offensive line additions tackle Alejandro Villanueva and guard Kevin Zeitler. “Whether it is in the meeting room, weight room, or on-the-field work, they are all ball all the time and I love that about them,” Harbaugh said. “I think they are going to be a formidable tandem on the right side, and I’m pleased with them so far.”
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