Ravens coach John Harbaugh made sure to stress the fact that the number of veteran players who were held out of practice Tuesday were simply given a day to rest.
Players on both sides of the ball, including linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and offensive weapons Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin, were given the day off, allowing the younger guys some much-needed repetitions.
“Some of the guys are a little bit older,” Harbaugh said. “And they probably don’t need as much practice when you look at who they were. We just gave them the day off and gave the younger guys some reps and those guys a little bit of rest.”
Unfortunately for the Ravens, not everyone who missed Tuesday’s practice was held out just because they’re “a little bit older.”
Cornerback Lardarius Webb was held out after practices all week forced him to take a day to keep his knee as close to 100 percent as possible. Fellow cornerback Chris Carr, meanwhile, suffered a slight hamstring injury earlier this week and missed practice today.
As for the guys on the field Tuesday, the Ravens continue to show improvement following last week’s loss at Philadelphia.
Quarterback Joe Flacco had success in his deep game, connecting with several receivers, including second-round pick Torrey Smith. Smith is expected to shine in the Ravens’ offense and be a large target down the field in the passing game, an attribute Harbaugh said is crucial in today’s brand of football.
“It’s just so hard in this league just to march the ball all the way down the field time and time again,” Harbaugh said. “And it sure looks like there’s going to a lot of drives with kickoffs being the way they are. So you’ve got to have that big play ability, that quick strike ability. Hopefully we can develop that.”
Meanwhile, Flacco’s backup, fifth-round pick Tyrod Taylor, is showing signs of maturity in the offense and while still leaps and bounds behind Flacco when it comes to the position, is beginning to look like more than a rookie on the field.
During drills today, Taylor’s throws were mostly on point, save for a few errant passes. A threat with his legs as much as his arms, the knock on Taylor heading into camp was that he would rely too much on the running game and not on standing in the pocket and completing passes. There was certainly some evidence of that in last week’s game against the Eagles, but Taylor is learning to be more patient under center, even if he’s still itching to scramble for a big play.
“We have so much fun out here, because there are times when he thinks he can get out of anything,” Harbaugh said. “And I call it a sack and he looks at me like, ‘That’s not a sack.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, there were a few sacks on Thursday night that were sacks.’ But then he got out of some too. So, maybe I’m right half the time and he’s right half the time.”
Long-time Penn State coach Joe Paterno always believed his teams improved the most in a season from the first week into the second, and with the Ravens’ second preseason game just three days away, it’ll be interesting to see if the old adage is true and just how improved this team is when they take the field Friday night.