When Ronnie Stanley was absent from Sunday’s training camp practice at the Ravens’ headquarters in Owings Mills for unknown reasons, the team could have moved right guard James Hurst, rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. or left guard Alex Lewis to Stanley’s customary left tackle spot.
Instead, Jermaine Eluemunor lined up at a position he hadn’t played since his days at Lackawanna College. It was yet another lesson for the 2017 fifth-round draft pick, who has lined up at both tackle and guard spots in the offseason and now training camp.
“I know they’ve got their starters, but I want to be the guy where if someone goes down this year, I can step in and fill the void and there won’t be a drop-off whatsoever,” Eluemunor said after practice. “So I’m working my butt off out here and trying to get better so that when it comes to the season, it’s second nature for me.”
Eluemunor’s performance was mixed. On some plays, he held his own against an edge rusher such as Tim Williams. On others, he was schooled by Matthew Judon. Eluemunor took the success and mistakes equally.
“It’s just a normal practice,” he said. “You’re going to have some good plays, and you’re going to have some bad plays. It’s about learning from those bad plays and [turning] those bad plays into good plays. I know some of the bad things I did and some of the good things I did, but I’m just going to watch the film and come out tomorrow and be better.”
Eluemunor made two starts at right guard last year after six-time Pro Bowl selection Marshal Yanda was lost for the season in the second game with a fractured left ankle. But Eluemunor gave way to Matt Skura, who made the last 12 starts.
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Even if Stanley is out for an extended period of time, Eluemunor is a long shot to start at left tackle because the team can go with Hurst, Brown or Lewis. But offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg insisted that the 6-foot-4, 335-pound Eluemunor could eventually develop into a left tackle.
“He’s got the skill, certainly, and the ability and the skillset to play tackle,” he said. “And he’s certainly a big, thick man. So that’s unusual because he’s got the feet to play tackle. And then I think he will be a very good guard as well. So we’re trying to utilize him at different positions, and he certainly has the skills to play left tackle.”
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg has a deep pool of candidates to review when it comes to selecting the team’s primary kick returner, but several rookies did not do themselves any favors Sunday.
During an extended kick-return exercise with an emphasis on blocking, wide receivers Janarion Grant and Lasley and running back Gus Edwards each dropped kickoffs, and Lasley did it twice. Fans who attended the practice groaned loudly at each muff.
Rosburg said he would have to review film of the bobbled kick returns, but the associate head coach was not pleased with the performances.
“I imagine I can chalk it up to really bad technique,” he said. “That’s kind of what I saw out of the corner of my eye because I was watching other things. But that’s typically what happens. It’s early in camp, but returners can’t be dropping the ball.”
In addition to Stanley, defensive end Brent Urban and rookie linebacker Kenny Young missed their first practice of training camp. Rookie tight end Hayden Hurst (soft tissue) and cornerback Bennett Jackson (undisclosed) sat out their second consecutive practice, and rookie offensive tackle Greg Senat, the second of three sixth-round selections, is expected to be sidelined for one to three weeks by an unspecified injury suffered at the end of minicamp. … Former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano died Sunday inside his home at the age of 56. Mornhinweg, who succeeded Sparano as the New York Jets offensive coordinator in 2013 and promoted Sparano’s son Tony Jr. to offensive assistant, ended his news conference by expressing his condolences to the Sparano family. “Best wishes to the family,” Mornhinweg said. “We’re thinking about them.” … Quarterback Joe Flacco dazzled fans when he took off on a run-pass option around the left end and sprinted for a significant gain. On Friday, the quarterback said he is more than willing to run with the football. “I’m not running too much different than I’ve always run, and that’s never been great, so that’s not that high of a feat,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing those things, but I’m capable.”