On Thursday afternoon, the Ravens once again faced another hot and gruesome practice. Even though the temperature sat at 93 degrees, the humidity made it feel as if the team’s practice facility was placed two inches from the sun.
To combat the dreadful heat, which appeared to get worse by the minute, the Ravens introduced a cooling period at the 90-minute mark of practice. After the horn sounded, the players marched inside the facility, where they received water and cold towels while coach John Harbaugh remained outside to answer questions from fans.
Harbaugh said the cooling period was introduced by chief medical officer Andrew Tucker as a way to simulate halftime while lowering the players’ body temperatures.
“The players weren’t so thrilled about that,” Harbaugh said. “They wanted to get going, but I think it was the smart thing to do.”
Harbaugh mentioned the Ravens won’t have cooling periods daily, only when the heat is unbearable.
Right tackle Morgan Moses, who is used to the heat training in Florida, said the cooling period was a good idea as it helps prepare the team to come out of halftime with a fast start.
“Obviously, when it’s hot like that during the games, we’ve got the cool benches out there and things like that, so why not work at it now — coming out of that halftime and starting fast?” Moses said. “And those are the things that we talk about, because there are four phases of the game. In the first quarter, you’ve got to start fast every time. If we start with a 5-yard run or a 5-yard pass, we’re getting the drive started, and those are the things that we’re working on.”
Likely continues to impress
Even though quarterback Lamar Jackson had the play of the afternoon when he threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to receiver James Proche II, who got behind safety Chuck Clark, rookie tight end Isaiah Likely was the star Thursday afternoon.
The former Coastal Carolina standout had three touchdowns in the red zone during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods. Jackson lofted a pass to the back of the end zone, where Likely leaped up and corralled the ball over safety Geno Stone.
One play later, Likely made a juggling snag over rookie linebacker Diego Fagot while staying inbounds.
“He was really winded, but he still came up and made the play,” Harbaugh said. “That was impressive.”
Likely has turned heads during training camp, as Jackson called him a baby version of tight end Mark Andrews.
“Isaiah is like a receiver, but in a tight end’s body,” Jackson said last week. “I don’t want to give him too much credit, but he’s like that, for sure, right now.”
Andrews has even seen himself in Likely, who totaled 2,050 yards and 27 touchdowns in four seasons at Coastal Carolina. “He’s got a natural, kind of knack-feel for the game,” Andrews said. “I think that he sees the game really well. He’s really fluid. When he sees something open, he takes it.”
‘Highly freakish’ Oweh
Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was one of the most athletic prospects in the 2020 NFL draft and one of the league’s top rookie edge rushers last season. But with every week of practice in his second Ravens camp, the former No. 31 overall pick seems to find new ways to harness his immense physical gifts.
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Early in the Ravens’ first 11-on-11 period, Oweh sped upfield against left tackle Ja’Wuan James, dipping so low on his pass rush that James might’ve only barely brushed his inside shoulder. Working from the other side of the line in a later full-team session, Oweh froze right tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith with a stutter-step move before dipping past his outside shoulder.
“I feel like you see him bend that edge ... and get small as he turns the corner, that’s a highly freakish thing to do,” Harbaugh said. “There’s not many that can do that. So he’s shown quite a few times out here ... that he’s able to do that. So, man, I’m all for it. That’s [a] pretty impressive pass rush.”
>> In addition to center Tyler Linderbaum and linebacker Vince Biegel going down to injuries, fullback Ben Mason was seen walking into the locker room with 20 minutes left in practice.
>> Besides the six players on the physically-unable-to-perform list and rookie tight end Charlie Kolar (hernia), wide receiver Devin Duvernay (thigh), tight end Nick Boyle, defensive back Brandon Stephens and linebacker Justin Houston were absent from practice. Duvernay has missed four straight days, while Stephens has been out for three.
>> Running back Justice Hill continued his strong showing as a receiver, winning easily in one-on-one matchups with inside linebacker Patrick Queen and Fagot. He was also a popular target on checkdowns and quick hitters in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 action. Hill wasn’t perfect, though, letting a would-be touchdown catch slip through his hands after he’d gotten open on a wheel route in a red zone period.
>> Two days after signing his rookie contract, Ravens outside linebacker David Ojabo watched part of practice from the sideline, at one point chatting with Harbaugh. Ojabo is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, which could push back his NFL debut until late in the season.
>> After a false start in an 11-on-11 period, Moses suffered the punishment: a lap around the field. “It’s just keeping everybody accountable, [even] myself,” Moses said. “I came back to the line, I said, ‘Man, that’s my fault,’ because nobody wants to be in first-and-15 when you have the opportunity to drive the ball.”