Observations, news and opinions from the Ravens’ fifth training camp practice Tuesday:
Decisions loom at wide receiver
If the pattern continues to hold into the preseason, the Ravens will have to make some interesting decisions at the wide receiver positions.
Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV are the starting three, but some of the young guys, like third-year player Chris Moore and second-year pro Tim White, are performing well.
The Ravens also have fourth-year player Breshad Perriman, a former first-round draft pick, as well as rookies Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley, competing for spots. Scott and Lasley are draft picks, but another rookie who has been solid is Janarion Grant, a free agent from Rutgers.
With this second group, it might come down to special teams, and Grant can absolutely fly and is a return specialist. I’d like to see him and Brown compete against each other in the 40-yard dash.
Top pick and rookie tight end Hayden Hurst made it to practice Tuesday without the help of a GPS system. He looked good and caught everything during the time he was out there but left practice early in what seemed to be a precautionary measure because of a recurring “soft tissue” injury.
I really liked what coach John Harbaugh said Monday when he chided Hurst and players coming out of college about being tougher. It’s true. They are the soft generation and I see it all the time in high school athletes.
While Hurst and fellow rookie tight Mark Andrews, taken in the third round, have missed extensive practice time, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle have played well with the extra repetitions.
Both have bulked during the off season. So far, Williams has been a better blocker and Boyle has shown softer hands.
No QB controversy here
It was not a good day for rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. He was way off target in the first three quarters of practice but got better in the remaining time. It’s really no big deal. All rookies have up and down days and he still has shown progress from the offseason training activities.
The national media, though, needs to stop making it seem as if Jackson is competing with Joe Flacco for the starting job. It’s not even close, folks. There is no competition. None.
Flacco is the man.
Mark Thompson, a free-agent rookie running back out of Florida, has done well at times and has good size at 6 feet 1 and 235 pounds. But some coach needs to recommend he start getting lower when carrying the ball and pass blocking.
If he doesn’t, he is going to have an aching backside after games.
No small feat
Anthony Averett, the rookie cornerback and fourth-round pick out of Alabama, appears to have a nose for the ball. He breaks on the ball well and usually knocks down a couple of passes a day.
He is a little small at 5-11 and 178 pounds, but seems to play with a lot of intensity.
Mosley needs a mate
The Ravens wanted to have some serious competition at the other inside linebacker position to complement middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, but right now it appears that Patrick Onwuasor will be there again.
Onwuasor isn’t very physical, but he does flow to the ball well. He just needs to play smarter and react quicker. Having a linebacker who can cover a running back out of the backfield will be a problem for the Ravens this season.
Failure to communicate
We won’t know until the games start, but I’m hoping the Ravens can improve their zone coverages. It’s been a problem for this defense for years and it cost them again in the final game against of 2017 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Ravens have enough physical talent to match up and play man-to-man coverage with most opposing teams’ receivers. But they fail to communicate when it comes to playing zone, which results in busted coverages.
They could get away with that problem last season because of a weak schedule, but in 2018, they face quality quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers.
Again, the physical talent is there, but the communication has to get better.
It seems as if the Ravens are experimenting with using Bronson Kaufusi as an outside linebacker in possible passing situations. With a long body (6-6) and long arms, he might be able to knock down a few passes.