It took until the Ravens’ fifth practice of training camp for their defense to pick off a pass in 11-on-11 action. No one in Owings Mills was surprised that cornerback Marcus Peters was the one to do it Monday morning.
Peters, whose 27 career interceptions are the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2015, stepped in front of a pass from Trace McSorley as the quarterback rolled to his right and threw toward the first-down marker. The interception was vintage Peters, the highlight of a disruptive practice for the defense.
The rest was a little Ed Reed. As the defense hastily assembled a convoy for Peters and the offense chased after him half-heartedly, not wanting to tackle the four-time All-Pro selection, Peters crossed fields and headed for the end zone. Then he saw safety Chuck Clark in his rearview mirror and gifted him a lateral. Clark finished off the approximately 40-yard defensive score, and both celebrated.
“I know a big part of what I do is just getting the ball back, and that ultimately helps our team get wins,” Peters said. “I do a lot of other things, too, with me knowing how much football I know, and me giving the game out to everybody else in any ways that I can. I’m an open book for everybody just to read, as far as my teammates. I give that game because the game was given to me, so I’m never stingy with those things.
“We’re just trying to win, so anything that I can do to help us win, it it is what it is.”
Peters’ interception was his second big win in three days for the Ravens defense. On Saturday, the team agreed to terms on a one-year deal with outside linebacker Justin Houston, whom Peters grew close to while both starred for the Kansas City Chiefs. Peters said he tried to “do my part,” calling Houston every so often to check in on someone he knew would be “an ultimate great leader for a team like us.”
“When you get a player like that, and he’s out there on the market, it helps to just call and say, ‘What’s up, man? How you doing?’ and see if we can be a part of his journey and if he can be a part of ours, too,” Peters said. “And it worked out. So glad to have him, man.”
The Ravens’ pass rush didn’t need Houston to make quarterbacks Tyler Huntley, Kenji Bahar (Calvert Hall) and McSorley uncomfortable Monday.
With the offense missing wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (hamstring) and Rashod Bateman (muscle tightness), the team’s trio of quarterbacks rarely had their first read open. They didn’t often get far in their progression, either, before the pocket collapsed and they were sent scrambling. McSorley and Huntley, still neck-and-neck in their backup battle, struggled with their accuracy on the move.
Outside linebackers Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Chris Smith and Jaylon Ferguson all had potential sacks, and defensive end Derek Wolfe led a strong interior push that batted a couple of balls.
“They’re working hard,” coach John Harbaugh said of the pass rush. “Every position is working really hard at every aspect of what we do. We’re not in pads yet, so it’s just kind of technique and speed and assignment right now.”
Before he left practice late with an apparent hamstring injury, wide receiver Miles Boykin was already struggling.
After making an impressive sliding catch in wide receiver drills, Boykin had his best opportunity of camp for an impact catch downfield. On a well-executed trick play, McSorley fired a jump ball for Boykin, who had a half-step on rookie cornerback Shaun Wade. His deep shot was underthrown, and with Wade unaware of its trajectory, Boykin came back to meet the ball, boxing Wade out near the left sideline. Boykin got both hands on the ball, then dropped it. It was a long jog back to the huddle.
Later in practice, Boykin had another chance in 11-on-11 action. Huntley, seeing Boykin come open on a seam route inside the red zone, put the ball where he had to, beating defensive back Brandon Stephens to the spot by a couple of paces. But Boykin seemed to tense up as the pass arrived, and the ball caromed off his hands.
Boykin, who has just one career drop over two seasons in Baltimore, according to Pro-Football-Reference, wasn’t the only Raven struggling after Sunday’s day off. Sammy Watkins, the team’s most consistent receiver in camp, dropped a pair of catchable balls, including one over the middle off play-action.
Besides Brown and Bateman, 10 Ravens missed practice: quarterback Jackson (COVID-19), running back Gus Edwards (COVID-19), tight ends Nick Boyle (knee) and Jake Breeland (knee), offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and Ja’Wuan James (Achilles tendon), defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive tackle Aaron Crawford, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, and cornerback Iman Marshall (knee). Harbaugh indicated that Campbell and McPhee were getting veteran rest.
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Offensive lineman Ben Bredeson, who missed practice Friday and Saturday, returned Monday.