It wasn’t a picnic.
Earl Thomas (safety) brought something extra to Saturday night’s training camp practice at M&T Bank Stadium when the Ravens put on full pads for the first time.
Thomas leveled rookie free agent wide receiver Sean Modster with a forceful shoulder after he caught a short pass. After the play, Thomas jumped in the air and celebrated and was joined by several of his defensive teammates, as the enthusiastic crowd of 28,312 voiced its approval.
Already it’s about “DE-FENSE” again in Baltimore.
“Got my attention a little bit and then I went, ‘Oh, it’s Earl,’” HC John Harbaugh said smiling. “‘OK. Good job Earl. Nice play.’”
Thomas and Tony Jefferson could possibly be the NFL’s best safety tandem, and they’re setting a physical tone from the outset.
In other news from Saturday night’s stadium practice:
- There was concern after practice about a thumb injury to Robert Griffin III’s throwing hand. The backup quarterback was taken to the locker room for X-rays. He returned to the field after practice, but he had a forlorn look on his face. The team gave no official word on Griffin. By now, we have learned it’s a broken bone in his throwing hand. To be prudent, the Ravens just signed journeyman Joe Callahan to take over Griffin’s throwing reps in camp.
- Lamar Jackson had another nice throwing practice. An early pass sailed over the head of Hayden Hurst, but Jackson locked in and looked good the rest of the way. The early pattern for Jackson has been to finish practices stronger than he starts them. While it’s good that Jackson is showing improvement as practice progresses, he’ll want to start the day faster once the regular season begins.
- Second-year wide receiver Jordan Lasley dropped a nice throw by Griffin. It wasn’t the first drop by Lasley since camp began. He can’t afford those if he’s going to make the team.
- Miles Boykin continued to be the most impressive wide receiver in camp so far. One of his catches was on a deep sideline route for a touchdown, which showed Boykin’s deceptive speed at 6-foot-4. It will be interesting to see if Boykin continues to flash once preseason games begin. But the third-round pick is handling practices just fine.
- Rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and left guard Alex Lewis (shoulder) were the only two Ravens on the 90-man roster who didn’t practice.
The Ravens had another padded practice on the following Sunday morning. Brutal. Most teams get the Sunday off after a Saturday night public practice.
No wonder the players were extra grumpy at Monday’s practice.
Second-year wide receiver Jordan Lasley is fighting for a roster spot, and during a hot Monday practice, his competitiveness continued after the snap.
Lasley got into a brief skirmish with cornerbacks Cyrus Jones and Bennett Jackson. It started when Jones and Lasley exchanged punches, then Jackson came over and wrestled Lasley to the ground.
“Stuff like that happens,” Lasley said. “Brothers fight, that’s what we do. We’re just out here competing, that’s it.”
Shortly after the skirmish, Lasley caught a touchdown pass, then celebrated by tossing the ball into the pond behind the far practice field.
“That was just a little get-back at the defense,” he said. “It was a touchdown. You score in the red zone, you get a touchdown, you launch it into the pond. I learned that from Michael Crabtree.”
“Everything’s all good,” Lasley said. “These are my teammates. I have to see these guys every single day. We smile, we joke, we’re in the same exact meetings as soon as we get out of here. I’m not a vengeful, grudge-holding guy like that, but I do compete really hard and that’s what I was doing.”
Lasley and Harbaugh had a brief discussion in the middle of the field, but Harbaugh downplayed the skirmish, especially with the Ravens practicing for the fifth consecutive day. The Ravens have been in full pads for three straight days and temperatures were hot Sunday and Monday.
“Was that a fight?” Harbaugh said. “Tempers are going to flare. It’s the dog days and you’re going to have moments.
“I feel like the players are handling it very well. We have been grinding. As Anthony Levine said when he broke the huddle today, ‘This was a dog day.’”
The stakes at practice are high for Lasley, who did not play a snap last season as a rookie. With Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Willie Snead IV, Miles Boykin and Chris Moore considered locks to make the roster, the Ravens still have eight other receivers perhaps competing for just two spots. Jaleel Scott and undrafted rookies Antoine Wesley and Sean Modster have also stood out so far.
Here’s how Lasley views his quest to make the team.
“Work my [butt] off on special teams, be consistent catching the ball,” Lasley said. “Be a guy that, whoever the quarterback is, can count on. And make plays. That’s the definition of a wide receiver.”
In other Monday practice news:
- Lamar Jackson threw his first two interceptions since the first day of training camp, but still had a decent day. His mechanics and accuracy continue to look more consistent than last year.
- Marlon Humphrey had one of the interceptions against Jackson, as the Ravens’ cornerbacks continued to play at a high level. Humphrey also celebrated his interception with a throw, tossing the ball into the stands.
- Seven players were absent from practice Monday – Brown, Thomas, offensive linemen Randin Crecelius, Jermaine Eluemunor and Alex Lewis; outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, and cornerback Tavon Young. Harbaugh said Eluemunor and Young have minor “muscle issues” and are expected back on the field this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday. The Ravens will be off Tuesday.