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Ravens training camp highlights: Za'Darius Smith owns spotlight on defense

Z. Smith stands out

The Ravens defense had plenty of success breaking down the Los Angeles Rams’ pass protection Tuesday, and no one personified that success more than Za’Darius Smith, who accumulated at least four sacks. During the first full-team exercise, the outside linebacker got past rookie left tackle Joseph Noteboom and pulled up before quarterback Jared Goff could release the ball. In the final drill, Smith tagged Goff three times, including wrapping him up once, which appeared to irk Goff, who responded by shoving Smith.

Getting to the QB

Smith had plenty of company in the Ravens’ pass rush. In the third exercise, outside linebacker Kamalei Correa and defensive end Brent Urban flashed past quarterback Sean Mannion on back-to-back snaps, and defensive end Patrick Ricard would have sacked Brandon Allen. In the final drill, Correa and outside linebacker Matthew Judon converged on Goff, and the play was whistled dead.

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Quarterbacks on wheels

Just as he did so often in college, Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson faked a handoff in the pocket and sped off on his own into the end zone. He made the same decision in another session, dodging four or five Rams for approximately 20 rushing yards. Robert Griffin III got in on the running game, too, legging his own 20 yards or so. The backups even inspired starting quarterback Joe Flacco, not known for his fast feet, to gallop 28 yards.

Airborne wideouts

Jackson’s first pass during one of his practice routes had a little too much lift. But rather than becoming an overthrow, rookie wide receiver Janarion Grant jumped into the air to catch the ball. Later, a high pass from Flacco met wide receiver Willie Snead IV in mid-air and mid-collision. Snead hung on, though, despite the hard hit (by practice standards).

Collins’ heady play

Flacco flipped the ball to running back Alex Collins, who cut across the pocket and spun around Rams defenders and charged up the field. As he jogged past Ravens fans, the humidity-soured Baltimore faithful gave him hearty applause.

Temper, temper

After a calm practice Monday, the mood was a little testier Tuesday. A block in the end zone quickly transformed into what appeared to be a fight between Ravens tight end Vince Mayle and Rams defensive tackle Tanzel Smart. The kerfuffle quickly dissolved into players in purple and white huddling around one another. On the adjacent field, offensive tackle Rob Havenstein, a Mount Airy native, and Ravens inside linebacker Albert McClellan went helmet-to-helmet and exchanged words after a running play. The two were quickly pulled apart by teammates.

Name that tune

Tuesday’s practice opened with The White Stripes’ “Seven Army Nation.” Other selections included The Brothers Johnson’s “Stomp,” Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party,” and REO Speedwagon’s “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”

Overheard at practice, Part 1

“There you go, Joe!” – A fan after Ravens quarterback Josh Woodrum connected with rookie tight end Nick Keizer. It was not the first time someone had confused Woodrum for Joe Flacco.

Overheard at practice, Part 2

“Where’s the chain at?” – Woodlawn High School senior wide receiver Joel Turner-Rodgers to Aqib Talib in reference to the Rams cornerback’s habit of ripping Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s necklace from him in on-field fights in 2016 and 2017. Talib pointed at Turner-Rodgers and laughed before running through a tunnel of Woodlawn players greeting the Ravens and Rams making their way to practice.

Baltimore Sun reporter Katherine Fominykh contributed to this article.

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