The Baltimore Ravens rookies are now 14 days into their first training camp, the veterans are one week in and the first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers now just over a week away.
Now that training camp is in full swing now is the perfect time to take in some of the highlights of training camp.
Steve Smith Bringing It
After he was so brutally cut by the Panthers franchise due to his advanced age the Ravens wasted no time in snapping up the 35-year-old veteran wide receiver Smith.
The initial speculation was that Steve Smith would take being cut for being too slow and use it as fuel for his 2014 campaign. The early reports from training camp are that this is the case.
After impressing in Organised Team Activities and mini-camp Smith has continued to show that there is life in the old dog in training camp. In drills he beat out cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Lardarius Webb to deep balls and then followed this up by faking out Webb on a fade route to pull off another great catch.
It seems Smith is bringing a level of intensity to training camp that can only serve him and the Ravens good as they prepare for the season.
Something else that Smith's intensity has potentially spotlighted is the weakness of the Ravens secondary.
The secondary struggled at times last season and the Ravens will be looking for an improvement in 2014. Established players Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and Matt Elam seem to have a lock on three of the starting spots leaving only the nickel corner spot open for grabs. The leading candidate for the spot Chykie Brown however has struggled so far in training. Brown is big and athletic but often struggles to keep track of the ball something that the wily Smith has made use of to repeatedly get the better of him.
Defensive co-ordinator Dean Pees echoed these sentiments saying off the cornerbacks and safeties “I’m a little disappointed in the first three days. We’ve got to do better than what we’re doing.”
In an increasingly pass heavy league a weakness in the secondary is something the Raven's can ill afford.
A healthy and dangerous looking Haloti Ngata
When he is fit Haloti Ngata is one of the most dangerous defensive pass rushers in the NFL. The early indications out of training camp are that Ngata could be set for a massive 2014 campaign.
Ngata has been working out in the off-season and although he is still officially listed at 6'4'' and 340 pounds he now looks to be closer to 315 pounds. In the the offseason he was caught on video slam dunking a basketball from a standing start.
The Raven's coaches also seem alive to the potentially that a fit Ngata offers as they
have been shifting Ngata up and down the line to test out different schemes.
Flacco in form
In training camp it would be foolish to put too much stock in positive comments about Flacco but the QB has been impressing so far as he adjusts to life under new offensive co-ordinator Gary Kubiak.
Kubiak gushed over Flacco saying “He has to lead the pack, and he’s done that from Day 1. He has a total command of what’s going on right now... His ability to go through progressions, to me, is exceptional, He’s bought into the boom-boom-boom stuff we teach as far as your feet [go]. We teach guys to read with their feet and get the ball going.”
You wouldn't expect a coach to be saying anything that isn't positive to the press at this point but it is still encouraging for Ravens fans to be told that Flacco is adjusting well
to the new faster offense.