The Ravens’ secondary is still under construction this offseason, but the pieces — perhaps the last of them — are at least in place.
While cornerback Kyle Fuller has agreed to a one-year contract, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday that he feels “really good in that group there – I mean, really good. in secondary education, from the point of view of the personnel”.
Not everyone in the Ravens’ revamped backfield was in attendance for Wednesday’s first open practice of organized team activities, but there were enough big names to see the potential.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, returning from a season-ending pectoral injury, didn’t give up much to receiver Rashod Bateman. Safety Kyle Hamilton, the team’s first draft pick, easily won his two head-to-head repeats against rookie tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely. Safety Chuck Clark, who showed up for voluntary workouts despite speculation about his future in Baltimore, was top of the line for positional drills and the voice of defense in team drills. Defensive back Brandon Stephens lined up everywhere. Even reserve cornerback Kevon Seymour nearly had two interceptions in three games.
And there’s more help on the way, too. Humphrey said safety Marcus Williams, the team’s top signing this offseason, will participate in next week’s OTAs. Fuller, a Baltimore native who Harbaugh called a “proven corner,” could join him. Cornerback Marcus Peters, meanwhile, is “doing great,” said Harbaugh, in his recovery from a torn ACL.
“I think it’s smart enough that I can just play ball,” Humphrey said. “So I’m really excited about some of the guys that are here, or the young guys [rookie cornerbacks Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis]and some of the guys who will be here next week, working with us.
After last season, the Ravens know there is room for improvement. Injuries strained the team’s depth from Week 1 through Week 18, and coverage breakdowns proved costly. The Ravens finished last in the NFL in pass defense (278.9 yards allowed per game) and third worst in pass defense efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.
Now the Ravens are less than four months away from the start of another season where — on paper, anyway — they’ll have one of the NFL’s most talented secondaries. Would it be the best?
“I would love to prove it,” Humphrey said. “It’s the most important thing for me. I wish that statement were true. I know there’s a lot of work to do, with me coming back from injury, Marcus coming back from injury, rookie Kyle Hamilton, veteran Chuck who’s really led our defense for the last two years. I know we have all the pieces in hand, so I think it’s really up to the players to go out there, communicate, be fundamentally strong and prove it. I think we’re in a position that I can’t remember we’ve been in before with who we have. And I think everything will depend on us.
Oweh wants to “dominate”
Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh’s expectations for his second year at Baltimore are simple.
“You just have to dominate more,” he said. “To finish. To be there more for my team in terms of making plays in the situations we need. To be more aware of what’s going on around me.
A healthier shoulder should help. Oweh underwent surgery in late January to fix a lingering problem, and he wore a harness in training. He was a limited participant on Wednesday, but said he hoped to build his shoulder strength “day by day, and I’ll be there soon.”
“It kind of bothered me a bit” last season, Oweh said. “But coming from Penn State, growing up where I grew up, you learn to play through stuff like that and not even think about it until the end. But it definitely got a bit more hectic towards the end of the season. But I’m fine now. We are straight.
Despite missing the final two games of the season with a foot injury, Oweh finished his rookie season with five sacks and 15 quarterback hits. After learning “things I didn’t even know I didn’t even know,” the former first-round pick enters sophomore ready to take the plunge.
“Even though I had the shoulder thing, I feel like everything else, I’m further than where I was [in] rookie camp,” he said. “So I feel better as an athlete. And then obviously, being a good outside linebacker, I feel good too.
- Quarterback Lamar Jackson, Peters, Fuller and Williams weren’t the only Ravens veterans missing Wednesday’s voluntary practice. Also absent were offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley, Ja’Wuan James and Morgan Moses; running backs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards; tight end Nick Boyle; defensive linemen Michael Pierce, Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe; outside linebackers Tyus Bowser, Jaylon Ferguson and David Ojabo; cornerback Iman Marshall; and security Ar’Darius Washington.
- Less than nine months after tearing his Achilles tendon in practice, running back Justice Hill was back on the field. Armour-Davis, who missed the final half hour of the Ravens’ rookie minicamp open session, was also practicing.
- Harbaugh said it was “not at all surprising” to see Clark taking part in voluntary workouts. “He didn’t want to miss the OTAs. It was something that was important to him. And he came here on Tuesday, ready to go, in great shape, and picked up where he left off. I just walked into the building, and he was Chuck Clark, and he was leading the defense. So it’s not at all surprising. »
- Tight end Mark Andrews, who saw Boyle in the offseason at Arizona, said he “looks like a different person, man.” Boyle, who has been limited to 14 games the past two seasons, is “hungry” and “ready to go,” Andrews said.
- Harbaugh joked that with retired punter Sam Koch now coaching rookie Jordan Stout, “punting practice seemed a little calmer and calmer there.” But Penn State’s fourth-round pick has impressed so far. “He’s got a big leg, I can tell you that,” Harbaugh said. “And even when he misses, it still goes pretty far, which is pretty cool. Its good; he has good misses, i guess you can tell.
- The NFL and players’ union have agreed to make the expanded 16-man practice squads permanent, according to a note to the 32 teams. Players can also be brought up from the practice squad up to three times before being subject to waivers. Additionally, eight players per team can return from injured reserve and other reserve rosters, but four games must have passed before a player can return.