Training Camp Tour: Ravens still the walking wounded
On Day 10 of the Pro Football Focus training camp tour, the PFF analysis team traveled to Baltimore to take in Ravens camp.
BALTIMORE — Friday saw the PFF training camp tour take in Ravens camp from the team’s facility in Owings Mills. While most team facilities are sleek, modern looking buildings, the home of the Baltimore Ravens looks more like a high-end country club, complete with putting green out front. It is however an extremely well-appointed set up and the practice session out back saw the benefit of some cooler weather than we have seen in recent days.
The most notable thing from this practice was the sheer volume of players not in attendance either through injury or veteran days. Upwards of a dozen players were not out on the field including some of the team’s biggest names like Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Eric Weddle and Marshal Yanda.
The two pass-rushers are still on the physically unable to perform list, as are receivers Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman. With Kamar Aiken also missing, the Ravens were essentially down to a second-string wideout group before they even set foot on the field. The benefit of that, though, is that some lower-profile players saw a lot of snaps and action all day. Keenan Reynolds saw some snaps with the first-team offense, but sadly did little to justify them and looks a very unnatural receiver right now. Reynolds earned excellent grades at PFF over the past two seasons as an option quarterback at Navy, but struggled to catch the ball and wasn’t separating with ease. He was also back returning kicks and had a role as a personal protector elsewhere on special teams, which is likely to be how he earns a living this year, but as a receiver he has major work to do.
Maxx Williams ready for bigger things in 2016
Coming out of Minnesota in 2014, Maxx Williams was the consensus top TE in the draft and the best-graded one in the FBS that year according to PFF’s data. Williams played 485 snaps as a rookie, and what is perhaps most notable about those snaps is that he graded well as a blocker, something entirely atypical for modern day TEs, especially rookies.
“Well we didn’t play spread in college, so that helps,” Williams told PFF after practice. “Lot of credit to the coaches and guys around me that really helped me out last year. They really helped me learn how to do it [blocking], and hey, you only get one chance to be in the NFL so I figured I might as well sell out for my career and hope for the best.”
Williams was one of the better performers in practice, making some nice grabs including a tough catch from Joe Flacco on a pass that was behind him and needed some good body control to reach back and bring it in. The starting TE job is there to be taken and there is no reason Williams can’t be a thousand-snap player in 2016, improving on where he left off a year ago and really emerging as a top player in this league.
Same old Flacco
Judging by the crowd of fans at camp and the cheers and chants of his name, the Baltimore faithful still loves Flacco, but practice saw the kind of inconsistency we have come to expect from a player capable of blowing hot and cold. He made some nice passes over the course of the day, and during the two-minute drill late in the session he marched the team right down to the red zone… only to throw a game-killing interception in the end zone.
Flacco was PFF’s 24th-rated QB in 2015 and really didn’t have too many good games before being shut down, but he has already shown that he has the ability to run hot for just long enough to win a team a Super Bowl. The Ravens will be hoping he can show that again, but they can’t be too much poor play away from starting to think about future options. The good news from his perspective is that none of the other QBs taking reps looked like they were likely to force the team to think too hard about those options any time soon.
Other camp notes:
– This practice session featured more penalties, both pre- and post-snap, than any other we have taken in. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of jumping offside, holding and near anything else you care to mention. That’s something they will want to clean up in a hurry because penalties will cost teams with cheap yardage.
– Ryan Mallett once again looked inaccurate but did at least score one nice touchdown to Kaelin Clay in the front corner of the end zone that saw Clay hold onto the ball through contested contact from the defensive back. Mallett had his own shot at the two-minute drill late on that ultimately ended in failure, but could have been so different if he had not underthrown a wide open receiver down the sideline. An accurate pass there would have scored.
– Ronnie Stanley was playing at left tackle and looking very accomplished, locking down his side and looking very unlikely to surrender pressure. In a practice that wasn’t really taking players to the ground he also pancaked a defensive back on a pull block on an outside zone run that drew some cheers from the spectators.