BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 06: Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (R) and defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano (C) talk with the defense during training camp at M&T Bank Stadium on August 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Aaron Wilson, a Ravens beat writer for the Baltimore Sun, joins Scott and Jeremy to discuss the notable stories and progressions within the Ravens’ first few days of training camp.
The biggest free agent splash the Baltimore Ravens made this season was signing the scrappy veteran wide out, Steve Smith Sr., to a three-year deal. According to the Sun’s Aaron Wilson, that signing is already proving to be a smart one.
“Steve Smith has really been impressive. He’s been the talk of training camp. He’s explosive and gets behind the defense often, and makes a lot of catches. He also talks with the younger guys a lot,” said Wilson.
Despite the tread on his tires, Smith was still productive with Carolina last year in an offensive united that was limited, catching 64 passes for 745 yards, along with four touchdowns in fifteen games. As likely a third option, those aren’t bad numbers at all.
Smith isn’t the only new Raven to make a good impression thus far in camp, as Baltimore’s rookie class is looking sharp early on.
“I’m very impressed with the rookie [DT] Jernigan, and also C.J. Mosely, they’re very explosive. Mosely looks like an instant starter in the middle and Jernigan will give them some depth inside,” said Wilson.
Although there are several bright spots in camp so far, there seems to be one early weakness on the roster which is not on the upturn. The cornerback position is apparently shaky due to both injury and poor play.
“Chykie [Brown] has struggled in pass coverage, and he’s competing to be their third corner. It’s a position where they need depth. Other than Jimmy Smith, they’ve had issues, whether it’s health or how they’ve played,” Wilson said.
Although Brown has been inconsistent, Webb is slightly injured, and Asa Jackson has yet to stay on the field, Wilson still thinks a free agent move is unlikely.
“I don’t think another move is on the horizon at this time.”
The Ravens did show interest in signing former Chiefs corner Brandon Flowers, but couldn’t lure him away from signing with San Diego.
As shaky as the corner position may be, the offensive line looks that much more solid thus far.
“They traded for a center, and of course they brought back Monroe, who’s looked good,” said Wilson. Yanda is a rock at right guard, but right tackle with Rick Wagner is the unproven spot. In practice he looks fine and he’s improved a lot with technique, but he’s not being pushed by Jah Reid or anyone right now,” he added.
What’s more, it’s been well documented that Baltimore has had their fair share of distractions off the field. So, why would they add another one in former Giants’ safety Will Hill?
“I don’t think they’re worried about the public image problem of signing Will Hill. They have that option if there’s an injury, and they love to have options,” Wilson said. “It’s a $1,000 deal or so, so if it doesn’t work out they can cut their losses. So far, so good–he had an interception the other day.”
Offensively, however, the Ravens don’t seem to have a need of adding a free agent target. With Dennis Pitta returning at full strength, Flacco’s favorite target is back, and then some.
“Dennis Pitta looks completely healthy, just as he did right before the injury. He’s going to be a big part of the offense, which benefits the position. Owen Daniels doesn’t get a lot of separation, but he does catch the ball well,” said Wilson.
“I like Michael Campanaro, as well. He has good hands, he understands spacing, and he’s very precise. While he’s not the biggest guy, he’s a better athlete than he gets credit for,” Wilson added.