Mike Preston’s Ravens training camp observations on the new schedule, O-Line, Michael Pierce and more

It’s evident that they’ve revamped their training and conditioning programs after a series of devastating injuries that contributed to the Ravens losing their last six games last season.

It’s an almost complete departure from the team’s first training camp in 1996, when then-coach Ted Marchibroda started batting on opening day and practiced twice a day.

Coach John Harbaugh’s camps had some similarly robust traits, but those days are gone after top players like running backs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards, cornerback Marcus Peters and Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley lost either an entire season or most of it were injuries.

So the Ravens have that ramp-up style going into 2022 and will slowly build up before finally starting full contact on Monday.

It’s weird but safer.

Set up

Stanley was on the field but not in pads. If he can return to full health after a serious ankle injury he sustained nearly two years ago that required further surgery after a game last season, he will improve the line tremendously.

If not, the Ravens will likely play Morgan Moses on the right and Ja’Wuan James on the left. Both were non-starters in Baltimore last season.

Right now, it looks like rookie Tyler Linderbaum will start in the middle, with Kevin Zeitler on the right and Ben Powers on the left. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Ben Cleveland, who was expected to challenge Powers for a starting position, did not train after being placed on the non-football injury list.

The Ravens made a big deal out of Cleveland last season when they drafted him into the third round, but so far he’s been stiff and can’t get blocks into the second tier.

He has to be on the pitch as soon as possible.

Duvernay’s day

The best catch of the day belonged to receiver Devin Duvernay, who made a sliding catch that flipped backwards on a 20-30 yard backshoulder throw from quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Cornerback Kevon Seymour had close coverage, but it was a perfect play from Seymour to Jackson to Duvernay.

Where is Ojabo?

Harbaugh said he has yet to hear any progress in negotiations with former Michigan fullback David Ojabo, the Ravens’ second-round pick in the April draft. As of Wednesday, he was the last of 259 picks to remain unsigned.

Ojabo’s absence is a bit strange considering draft positions are structured by salary and negotiations are consistent with who was selected before and after Ojabo, who was the 45th overall pick.

This basically seems like an agent advising Ojabo for very little profit, but it could make an impact on next year’s draft class.

Luckily for the Ravens, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound linebacker is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury and won’t be ready until late in the season anyway. He has great potential and a range of moves.

If Ojabo hadn’t suffered the injury he might have been a first-round pick, but breaks like this happen in life. Now all he has to do is live with it, accept his slot deal and move on.

Humphrey stands out

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey has been impressive at several offseason minicamps, but he was even better on the opening day of training camp.

Humphrey, nearing his sixth season, broke multiple passes and displayed excellent ball braking and acceleration.

He could be on a mission after a subpar 2021 season.

Pierce appears

Michael Pierce started nose tackle but is clearly not in top form. He needs to lose about 10 to 15 pounds in preparation for the regular season opener on Sept. 11 against the New York Jets.

Pierce still has some blast and power, but he couldn’t play consistently at that moment. The Ravens got an example of his raw power when he pinned Linderbaum down like a little kid during a pass rushing practice.

If Pierce decreases, the Ravens should have a decent defensive line with tackle Justin Madubuike and end Calais Campbell.

Project Faalele

Rookie right offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, a fourth-round pick from Minnesota, struggled with conditioning during the offseason but moved better Wednesday.

Faalele is a project but has potential given his size of 6-8 and 380 pounds.


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