OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You should never read too much into what you see during spring non-contact practices, but the Ravens clearly face questions at inside linebacker after the offseason release of veteran Daryl Smith.
That’s why it was interesting to see second-round rookie Kamalei Correa taking extensive reps inside during Thursday’s voluntary workout. The Boise State product even broke up a pass intended for veteran tight end Dennis Pitta near the goal line during an 11-on-11 drill and proceeded to do pushups as punished for failing to secure the interception.
Projected by many to serve as a situational pass rusher to spell veterans Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as a rookie, Correa could end up being an interesting candidate to compete with the likes of Zach Orr and Arthur Brown for the starting inside linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley, who will assume Smith’s “Mike” linebacker position. Wearing Smith’s old No. 51 jersey, Correa has a 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame that would seem to fit inside if he’s able to hold up in pass coverage, the biggest unknown about his game at this point.
“They all need to learn all the positions, and I think K.C. has inside linebacker traits,” said head coach John Harbaugh, who noted that the “Will” linebacker spot has outside backer characteristics. “He played it in college quite a bit. They moved him around at Boise. The more he can do, the better. We’re definitely going to look at him, and you have Albert [McClellan] that can play the different [linebacker] spots.
“We’ll look at different guys at different spots for sure.”
It’s worth noting that Mosley wasn’t present for Thursday’s workout, but neither were Suggs and Dumervil, which would lead you to assume Correa would have spent more time at either outside position if the Ravens weren’t serious about evaluating him as an inside linebacker. This all could mean nothing in even a couple weeks, but Correa’s development will definitely be worth monitoring as the Ravens desperately need to get faster and more athletic on the defensive side of the ball.
Injuries won’t help bubble players
Neither wide receiver Michael Campanaro nor running back Trent Richardson are locks to make the 53-man roster, so it’s disappointing for both to be sidelined with injuries — even for spring workouts.
Harbaugh has been outspoken in the past about Campanaro’s inability to stay on the field, but the coach took a more empathetic tone in discussing the latest injury — a “tweaked” calf suffered a couple weeks ago. The 2014 seventh-round pick has been limited to eight games in his first two seasons.
“There will be a time when he will get past this stuff,” Harbaugh said. “This stuff will stop happening and hopefully it’s training camp. That’s what we’re hoping for him. The guy works tremendously hard and was in phenomenal shape, and we’re still expecting really good things from him.”
Meanwhile, Richardson faces an uphill climb to resurrect his career as he will compete with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West for what figures to be three or four roster spots at the most.
Much was made about the former first-round pick’s efforts to lose weight and get in better shape before the Ravens signed him this spring, but Harbaugh apparently wants to see more from the Alabama product. He could only observe Thursday’s workout after injuring his hamstring last week.
“I think the workload and the amount of work it takes to be a world-class conditioned athlete is something that he’s working on right now,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what he needs to understand and that’s where he needs to get himself. When he gets himself there, he’s got talent. It will be fun. I’m very certain he’ll get there and when he does we’ll be able to evaluate him.”
Jernigan number change
Despite being a Florida State product, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan interestingly changed his jersey number to honor a former University of Miami legend.
The 2014 second-round pick is now wearing No. 99, a nod to Hall of Famer Warren Sapp. Veteran Chris Canty had worn the number most recently while Jernigan donned No. 97 in his first two seasons.
“Nasty, ferocious, he came every play,” said Jernigan about his appreciation for Sapp’s career. “You definitely knew he was there and when he made a play. Another thing, he played down in Florida, too, so he was definitely one of the greats from our state.”
The admiration may not be mutual, however, as Sapp tweeted to the Ravens asking how he could stop this. It’s unclear whether this was more of a playful jab at someone from a rival Florida school or that the cantankerous Sapp has a serious — and, frankly, inexplicable — objection.