The Ravens held their first OTA session open to the media on Thursday. Granted, a lot will happen between now and when the season kicks off in September, but here are five observations from the first open OTA workout:
-- This defensive line has a lot of options
Veteran Chris Canty sat this one out, and promising second-year defensive end Brent Urban was out as well for a personal issue, according to coach John Harbaugh. But Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan are an impressive 1-2 punch in the middle of the defense and rookie Carl Davis and Kapron Lewis-Moore -- back on the field after missing two full seasons with injuries -- should both be a factor. Add in Canty, Urban -- who like Lewis-Moore missed all of last season -- Lawrence Guy, Casey Walker, DeAngelo Tyson and others, and this unit has the potential to be a force even after losing Haloti Ngata.
-- Darren Waller is a physical specimen
At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, the rookie receiver from Georgia Tech stands out in the receiver group. He had a couple of nice catches during 11-on-11 drills and could be a handful for defensive backs. Waller had just 51 career catches in Paul Johnson's triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, but he will be an intriguing prospect to watch in camp. "He grabs your attention out there just when he walks on the field," Harbaugh said after Thursday's workout, "but as we know, that’s not enough. But he’s making plays after the ball is snapped also. Again, when the pads come on, we’ll know more, but he sure has a good frame, and he knows what he’s doing, and he’s a pretty good route runner for a big man like that.”
-- Za'Darius Smith could be a factor on the edge
Harbaugh noted how Smith, wearing No. 90 and with hair coming out the back of his helmet, will remind fans of Pernell McPhee. They aren't quite the same player, but Smith has a lot of potential to fill a role as an edge rusher. In one drill he blew by rookie tackle De'Ondre Wesley, and he also showed good hands with a pick-six against Matt Schaub. With Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil both sitting out OTAs, Smith will get extended reps. And with both of those veterans on the high side of 30, Smith could be part of the long-term answer at outside linebacker.
-- The secondary is better
Lardarius Webb wasn't at Thursday's workout, and Jimmy Smith was limited. But Kyle Arrington had good position on several throws, and Kendrick Lewis looks like a good fit alongside Will Hill in the back end of the Ravens defense. If Webb, Smith and Asa Jackson are all healthy this fall, this unit is deeper and better than a year ago.
-- What a difference a year makes for Justin Forsett
Last year at this time, Justin Forsett was a virtual unknown in Ravens camp, a veteran newcomer fighting to carve out a spot in a crowded running back group that figured to be led by Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. But now Forsett is a proven No. 1 back and the undisputed leader of the running back group.