With the Ravens conducting their first full-team padded practice of 2020 training camp on Monday morning, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Seeing coaches and team staffers wearing masks was certainly weird, but the rest of the 90-minute workout felt like normal football, from the sound of offensive linemen hitting the blocking sled to teammates talking trash with one another. Let’s hope the NFL’s encouraging testing numbers continue.
2. Veteran reporters warn not to take too much away from the first few camp practices even under normal conditions, but one word came to mind watching Wink Martindale’s defense — fast. The speed, versatility, and aggressive tactics should put incredible stress on the opposition.
3. The throw of the day was a Lamar Jackson strike down the seam to Marquise Brown between DeShon Elliott and Anthony Levine in coverage. Yes, Brown looks bigger and stronger than a year ago and still looked like the fastest player on the field by a clear margin.
4. You’d hope to see less scrutiny for every throw Jackson makes in training camp after his historic MVP season, but his loudest critics will still point to what happened to Baltimore in the postseason. Unfortunately, his chance to silence that particular talk is at least 4 1/2 months away.
5. John Harbaugh wouldn’t comment on NFL Network’s report of Dez Bryant traveling to Owings Mills to work out for the team. Taking a look at the former Dallas Cowboy is fine, but what can you really expect from someone who hasn’t played an NFL snap since Jackson starred at Louisville?
6. First-round pick Patrick Queen surged through the line of scrimmage to make the first “tackle” — the Ravens were going thud contact — of the first 11-on-11 period. That seemed fitting for the 21-year-old inside linebacker who should have little trouble proving he belongs on the field Week 1.
7. Matthew Judon handled himself well when asked about being forced to play on the franchise tag. “I can’t do anything about it, but I’m glad I’m still a Raven.” A former fifth-round pick making $16.8 million and still having a bite at the apple next March isn’t a bad deal.
8. Now established and paid as a starting safety, Chuck Clark was active with a couple stiff hits during early 11-on-11 periods and a breakup of a pass intended for Willie Snead during a 7-on-7 drill. His football intellect and presence are invaluable for a defense built from the backside forward.
9. Despite rookie free agents being in a tough spot with no preseason games to showcase their talents, the 6-foot-4, 238-pound Eli Wolf moves well and made a couple good grabs. Someone must emerge as the No. 3 tight end, but Wolf made only 21 career receptions at Tennessee and Georgia.
10. Iman Marshall was firmly on the bubble before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but his absence makes it more important for the talented Anthony Averett to rebound from a disappointing 2019. A defense that sometimes deploys four corners at once needs a viable fifth option for depth.
11. We’re used to seeing Orlando Brown Jr. tower over teammates on the field, so seeing him stand with Calais Campbell (also 6-foot-8) at one point Monday reiterated how massive the latter is. What a piece to add to this defense on and off the field. He’s already making an impression.
12. Justin Tucker ended Monday’s practice with a 58-yard field goal before the horn sounded and Harbaugh huddled his team together. The world has changed so much in 2020, but that particular sight was old hat.