Yanda back to business
Ravens Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda worked with the first unit during 11-on-11 drills Sunday, and it was apparent by the way he hustled in and out of every repetition that he was glad to be back after missing extensive time with ankle and shoulder injuries.
It’s always interesting to watch a player return from injury because sometimes they are a little cautious, but Yanda wasn’t hesitant. By the end of practice, he was tangling with defensive tackle Brandon Williams, so you knew that he was feeling good.
“This is amazing stuff,” running back Buck Allen said of Yanda’s return. “He brings a second wind to the team as far as cleaning things up. I can’t wait for him to be totally back, but you know he is ready. I don’t have to ask him, I just look at him when he gets in the huddle. And if he is hyped, I am hyped. He doesn’t have to say a word.”
With Yanda’s return, the starting offensive line appears to be Matt Skura at center, Alex Lewis at left guard and James Hurst and Ronnie Stanley at the tackle positions. But don’t be surprised if rookie Orlando Brown Jr. becomes the starting right tackle at some point this season for Hurst or if someone gets injured.
Brown keeps getting better every day, and his attitude has flipped from the offseason, when he failed to heed the advice of former Ravens offensive linemen Wally Williams and Tony Jones.
He is on his way to becoming a good player.
Allen, Edwards not to be overlooked
While on the subject of Allen, I would call him “sneaky good.”
He isn’t going to wow anyone with his speed or jump cuts, but he has a way of finding holes in defenses on third down. He has caught the Ravens defense off guard several times in training camp, including Sunday, when they blitzed and he circled out in the area and turned a short pass into a 70-yard touchdown.
Every team needs an Allen.
Another running back who has been impressive is rookie Gus Edwards, an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. He is the downhill type who runs a little high, but hard. He has 93 yards on 22 carries in the two preseason games.
“I am just trying to control what I can control,” Edwards said. “I am working hard and having a great time, but also living my dream. This has been a great experience being around a lot of great guys and great football players. It’s been hard but at the same time a wonderful experience.”
Catch of the day
The catch of the day belonged to rookie receiver Janarion Grant, who hauled in a long pass down the right sideline while his left arm was pinned by cornerback Darious Williams. If Grant can shine as a punt or kick returner, he might make this team. He has played well enough to be competitive with the other rookie receivers and several veterans, but a big return might give him an edge.
Hurst needs some nastiness
I’ve never been a big fan of the Ravens running tight end screens, but that has changed with the addition of rookie Hayden Hurst. Instead of the usual big, lumbering tight end, the kid can fly, and his speed could turn a short pass into a big gain.
Now, he just needs to become nastier.
He caught one pass Sunday and ran 40 yards down the right sideline. Outside linebacker Matthew Judon ran over, knocked the ball out and tripped Hurst. Hurst didn’t retaliate.
A couple of plays later, Hurst caught a pass near the middle and got knocked down by safety Chuck Clark. Those types of hits aren’t allowed in practice. Hurst put up a little fuss but walked away.
Sorry, son, you got to fight back. The NFL is all about intimidation, and the veterans on defense are sending you a message.
This isn’t like playing marbles.
The only person on the offense who took issue with the hit was Stanley, and that is just as concerning. There should have been more offensive players squawking and becoming irate. This team needs an Orlando Brown, and it’s not Junior. They need a Zeus Sr.
The way Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale blitzes or brings pressure should help the offensive line, which struggled at times with stunts last season. On Sunday, the Ravens overloaded and brought pressure to the right side of the line of scrimmage but also brought safety Eric Weddle from the left.
Stanley picked it up well and shut Weddle down. A year ago, that would have given the Ravens problems.
Jackson makes it look easy
One of the best things about watching rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in practice is that when a play breaks down or the Ravens run a quarterback draw, he can take it 80 yards for a touchdown and make it look easy.
Waller faces uphill battle
Tight end Darren Waller arrived at camp last week after a one-year suspension and he looks fit and a little more toned. He looks more like a wide receiver than a tight end, but he has a major uphill battle to make the roster.