As the Ravens’ first day of mandatory minicamp slowly came to life Tuesday afternoon, the attendance checks began. Ninety minutes earlier, coach John Harbaugh had said the team’s full offseason roster had reported for the week’s three practices, and position by position, the Ravens’ big names on offense spilled out onto the practice fields.
There was Lamar Jackson, warming up with quarterbacks coach Tee Martin. There were wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and Rashod Bateman, the latter in street clothes, joking on the sideline. There was Mark Andrews, working with the team’s young tight ends. There was left tackle Ronnie Stanley, back for his first mandatory minicamp since 2019.
Conspicuously absent, though, was J.K. Dobbins. The running back had missed the team’s voluntary “football school” workout and its organized team activities over the offseason, but the team had featured him prominently in its “media day” photo shoots on Monday. Early Tuesday morning, Dobbins had even shared photos of him in his Ravens uniform on Instagram.
When Harbaugh was asked before practice about Dobbins, he said he was “very excited” about the running back’s role in coordinator Todd Monken’s new offense. There was no indication he would be missing in action for the noncontact practices.
“It’s going to be interesting how he fits in, because J.K. has a lot of dynamic ability — backfield, motion, wide plays, inside plays, as a receiver out of the backfield,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’s got a lot of potential.”
Dobbins’ absence, reportedly for a minor injury, cast a shadow over the Ravens’ 2 1/2 hours of practice, just as his tweets two weeks prior had added some mystery to the team’s otherwise drama-free OTAs. On June 1, Dobbins, who’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, tweeted that he was Baltimore “till I’m gone.” In another tweet, since deleted, he wrote: “Idk [I don’t know] tho sadly.”
With Dobbins missing, fellow running back Gus Edwards limited to positional work, Bateman sidelined by a cortisone shot, and Beckham and tight end Mark Andrews getting few repetitions, Tuesday was not a day for the Ravens’ stars. The standouts who did emerge, though, were no surprise.
One week after impressing at the Ravens’ final open practice of OTAs, wide receiver Nelson Agholor had perhaps Tuesday’s biggest play, separating from projected starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and running underneath a deep pass from Jackson for a would-be catch-and-run score. Agholor’s quick connection with Jackson was obvious throughout the afternoon as he caught a back-shoulder pass and worked the sideline for another reception.
Tight end Isaiah Likely and wide receiver Devin Duvernay were also busy for the second straight week, working the short and intermediate areas of the field for catches in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 action. Flowers, the team’s first-round pick, had a relatively quiet day and dropped a low throw from Jackson. Beckham beat star cornerback Marlon Humphrey, whose snaps were also limited, on an in-breaking route for a diving catch during one of his few snaps with Jackson in 11-on-11 work.
“He’s been throwing the ball all his life, and to watch him … [to] catch a few passes from him earlier today, he’s got a strong arm,” Beckham said before practice. “It gets up on you fast.”
Beating the blitz
Jackson opened minicamp with a solid, if unspectacular, day of practice. Unofficially, he finished 28-for-39 in team drills, with his production helped by an early dose of screens and quick hitters and hurt by some dropped passes, including a couple by Likely. Undrafted cornerback Jordan Swann also dropped a would-be interception.
Jackson continued to get rid of the ball quickly, rarely pumping the ball downfield. He found running backs in the flat and receivers running shallow crosses with regularity, sometimes contorting his arm angle to throw around pressure in the pocket.
One of Jackson’s most impressive plays started before the snap. One play after Agholor’s deep completion, the defense showed a “Cover 0″ look: man-to-man coverage out wide, no deep safeties, an all-out blitz coming Jackson’s way. As he had in the Ravens’ Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins last season, Jackson motioned over a receiver — in this case, Likely — and gained an extra blocker at the snap. The protection held up long enough for Jackson to take a quick drop and nail a throw to wide receiver Andy Isabella, who’d gotten a half-step on safety Ar’Darius Washington on a crossing pattern.
At other times Tuesday, Jackson announced one-word play calls at the line of scrimmage, part of his growing responsibilities in Monken’s higher-tempo, more flexible system.
“Lamar has always prepared really hard, like everybody, but it’s going to be a different type of preparation, because there are going to be different things he’s going to be responsible [for] looking at,” Harbaugh said before practice. “It will be a different lens he’s going to be looking through. So in terms of the way the offense has been built, every offense is built differently, so he’s looking at certain things that he wasn’t looking at before, in a certain way.”
Along with Dobbins and Bateman, the Ravens were without fullback Patrick Ricard, who missed OTAs; wide receiver Mike Thomas, who separated his shoulder last month; rookie offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees, who’s expected to miss this season while he recovers from a torn ACL; defensive lineman Rayshad Nichols; and cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams, who Harbaugh said will miss minicamp with an undisclosed injury.
Cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis was limited to positional drills, while outside linebacker Tyus Bowser left practice about an hour after it started. He didn’t appear injured.
Undrafted rookie tight end Brian Walker, who played at Division II Shepherd, was waived Tuesday.
A handful of players were on hand for tryouts, among them: wide receiver Michael Bandy, tight end Connor Davis, defensive back Jace Whittaker, kickers Eddie Ogamba and Matt McCrane and long snapper Alex Matheson.
- Washington, who’s appeared in just six games over his two years in Baltimore, had a strong practice in the slot, intercepting an early pass from quarterback Josh Johnson. He also deflected a pass to wide receiver Tylan Wallace after running with him down the left side.
- Ya-Sin was also around the ball. He broke well on a pass from Jackson over the middle to Beckham early in practice, nearly coming up with an interception. Later, he helped make up for the long catch to Agholor with tight coverage on the former first-round pick in an 11-on-11 period, leading to an incompletion from Jackson.
- Defensive back Daryl Worley, lining up primarily as a safety, had the final big play of practice, securing an interception on a pass from Johnson that he barely had to move for.
- Outside linebacker David Ojabo, along with Odafe Oweh, had another solid day as an edge rusher. His best sequence came on back-to-back plays in 11-on-11 work, when he helped set the edge against pulling fullback/tight end Ben Mason on a handoff, then accelerated past Stanley’s outside shoulder on a screen pass headed the other way.
- A handful of rookies had steady days and impressive plays, including undrafted running back Keaton Mitchell, undrafted tight end Travis Vokolek, offensive lineman and sixth-round pick Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, undrafted outside linebacker Malik Hamm, and cornerback and fifth-round pick Kyu Blu Kelly. Fourth-round pick Tavius Robinson, meanwhile, was partly responsible for one of the day’s more comic moments, collapsing the pocket for a would-be sack and prompting Jackson to punt the ball away in frustration.