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Baltimore Ravens

Ravens training camp observations on Sammy Watkins’ dominance, a heated John Harbaugh, Kevin Zeitler and more

In its first competitive period of Thursday’s training camp practice, the Ravens secondary just never got going against a locked-in passing game.

In its last competitive period, John Harbaugh joined the onslaught himself.

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The Ravens head coach’s occasionally heated dialogue with members of the secondary and his coaching staff highlighted the team’s final day of practice before Saturday’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. It was the closest the team’s gotten to a practice-stopping confrontation during an otherwise peaceable training camp.

The tone was perhaps set early, when Ravens wide receivers dominated the team’s defensive backs in a one-on-one drill that, because it started inside the 10-yard line, favored the offense. After James Proche II was overthrown in the offense’s first matchup, Ravens quarterbacks connected on 22 straight passes.

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Not every catch went for a touchdown, and not every touchdown catch was worthy of a celebration. Cornerback Anthony Averett’s airtight coverage on Devin Gray forced a deflection that popped into the air and fell into Gray’s hands. Rookie Tylan Wallace and Proche had catches that would’ve been stopped well short of the end zone.

But generally, there was little that the Ravens’ cornerbacks and safeties could do to stop the streak. Devin Duvernay’s acceleration left safety Geno Stone in his rearview mirror on an out-breaking route. Jaylon Moore made a diving catch of a ball that cornerback Davontae Harris nearly picked off. Sammy Watkins beat cornerback Marcus Peters three times: first on a back-shoulder fade; then on an in-breaking route that looked to Peters as if he were running a similar vertical route; and finally on a jump ball in which he just beat Peters to the apex.

About an hour later, the Ravens returned to the same end zone for a red-zone drill. Even with cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Tavon Young getting veteran rest, the pass defense had fared far better in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 action. Inside linebacker Kristian Welch picked off a deflected pass from quarterback Trace McSorley, safety DeShon Elliott had a similar interception — though the play appeared to have been called dead — and Peters dropped a pick.

Whatever positivity those plays conjured for Harbaugh quickly faded. In 11-on-11 work, an apparent breakdown in the secondary led him to drift over to the defensive side and challenge Peters and Elliott’s approach in coverage. Defensive backs coach D’Anton Lynn also seemed to catch some heat. Harbaugh and Peters had the longest back-and-forth, with Peters raising his hands in apparent frustration, though the tone was mostly civil.

As the team transitioned into another drill, Harbaugh met with defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale near midfield. After practice ended, members of the secondary huddled up to talk before heading inside.

On the way back

Starting right guard Kevin Zeitler appeared to be moving well as he worked on his conditioning toward the end of practice. Zeitler left practice Aug. 3 with a foot injury that Harbaugh said wasn’t serious, and hasn’t practiced since.

On-the-bubble safety Nigel Warrior, who left an Aug. 4 practice with a bone bruise on his knee, was working on the same field as Zeitler and seemed to be in good shape.

Neither is expected to play in Saturday’s preseason opener, but they could return in time for the Ravens’ pair of joint practices with the host Carolina Panthers, which start Wednesday.

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Attendance

Eighteen Ravens were missing at practice: fullback Patrick Ricard; guards Ben Cleveland and Zeitler; offensive tackles Alejandro Villanueva, Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and Ja’Wuan James (Achilles tendon); wide receivers Rashod Bateman (groin), Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (hamstring), Miles Boykin (hamstring) and Deon Cain; tight end Nick Boyle (knee); inside linebacker Otaro Alaka; cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (ankle), Khalil Dorsey, Iman Marshall, Humphrey and Young; and Warrior.

Ricard and Villanueva have “little things they’re dealing with,” said Harbaugh, who gave them their second day off.

Wide receiver Siaosi Mariner and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee left practice early.

Extra points

>> Outside linebacker Justin Houston has a new number, and it’s an old one. The free-agent signing arrived at Thursday’s practice in a No. 50 jersey, which he wore for the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts. Houston took the digits from Alaka, who will now wear No. 56.

>> Tight end-fullback Ben Mason had one of the most impressive catches of camp, snagging with one hand a sidearm throw from Jackson that came in near Mason’s knees. The fifth-round pick, whose hands have improved since an inconsistent offseason performance, turned upfield and rumbled for a few yards in the flat.

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>> On a day when the Ravens seemed to be experimenting with their screen game, Duvernay had by far the offense’s biggest play. In McSorley’s first 11-on-11 period, the second-year wide receiver zoomed past Harris on a deep route. McSorley underthrow Duvernay enough to let Harris make up the lost ground, but Duvernay still came down with an approximately 40-yard catch.

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>> The long reception came just minutes after Averett opened 11-on-11 action by turning his head around to break up a deep pass down the left sideline from Jackson for Watkins. Watkins got his revenge on Averett later by catching a fade from Jackson for a red-zone touchdown near the end of practice.

Preseason, Week 1

SAINTS@RAVENS

Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV: Chs. 11, 4

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM


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