10 Things To Watch

Fans will get their first opportunity to see the Ravens in action on Saturday.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Categories: 2011 Training Camp, Mike Duffy

For the first time this year, fans will get an opportunity to see the early version of the 2011 Ravens in action at Saturday’s free open practice in M&T Bank Stadium.

With gates opening at 9 a.m., the team will take the field at 10 for a three-hour session.

So, at this point in the preseason, what should you look for?

Here’s a handy list of things to watch:

Jimmy Smith
The hope is that first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith can practice, as he’s dealt with a tweaked groin for the past few days. If he does, keep a close eye on No. 22.  Long and lean, Smith does not shy away from contact and really likes to use press coverage to his advantage.  The Colorado product regularly sets up close to the receiver he’s marking to jam him at the line. Check him out in DB/WR drills.

The Safety Battle
Things just got even more interesting with the open spot next to Ed Reed, as the Ravens added safety Bernard Pollard on Thursday.  The general thought was that Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura would duke it out.  Now, it’s a three-way standoff, and Pollard made it interesting with some eye-opening hits in his first practice in purple and black.

Ravens Right Tackle
Jah Reid has been impressive thus far in camp, both with his size and ability, but Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Thursday that Oniel Cousins has a slight advantage over the third-round draft pick simply because of his experience.  Don’t forget to pay attention to who is running with the starters, because it could offer insight into how the Ravens address the key position moving forward.

Get Free Stadium Practice TicketA Smaller Mt. Cody
There’s a lot riding on nose tackle Terrence Cody with the release of Kelly Gregg, and it seems he’s taking his responsibility seriously by keeping his weight down during the lockout.  You might not be able to see it from the stands, but Cody’s conditioning should show by his work on the field.

A Bigger Flacco
Quarterback Joe Flacco went the other direction, putting on 10 pounds and adding strength this offseason.  Not only that, it seems Flacco is taking even more leadership of the offense, as expected, in his fourth year.

Ray and Sizzle
Some of the full-team moments at training camp have been hysterical with Lewis and linebacker Terrell Suggs trash-talking the offense.  When the Ravens turn up the pressure on defense and get after Flacco, Lewis and Suggs aren’t afraid to let people know about it.  Suggs might not always be G-rated, but he’s always good for a laugh.

Anquan the Teacher
With a receiving group as inexperienced as the Ravens have right now, Anquan Boldin is playing the role of mentor.  The nine-year veteran said it’s something he’s had to do throughout his career, but this situation might be unprecedented.  Look for Boldin to be secured with the ones.  After that, several young wideouts have gotten reps with the first team.

Tyrod Taylor
Much has been made of the Ravens’ quest to find a backup quarterback for Flacco – and they still could go the free agency route – but sixth-round draft pick Tyrod Taylor has shown promise.  He throws a great ball and is incredibly elusive when he slips out of the pocket.  The Virginia Tech product is good for at least one “Oooh!” play in practice.

The Vonta Leach Train
The new Ravens fullback likes to do one thing – block.  Leach showed as much in Thursday’s session, pumping his fist and hitting his helmet with glee after engaging with and erasing linebackers to clear space for Ray Rice. It’s going to be a fun sight with Rice following Leach’s No. 44 into the hole.

Cheerleaders! Marching Band! Baltimore Football Alumni!
Of course, there will be a lot more going on besides just football. Expect interactive games, photo booths, face painting and autograph signings with the Ravens’ cheerleaders and alumni.  There will also be performances by the Marching Ravens Band.

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