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Training camp what to watch, Aug. 6


Training camp what to watch, Aug. 6

OWINGS MILLS – The Ravens take the field Thursday morning at 10 for their seventh practice of training camp. Here’s the buzz surrounding the team as they take the field:

- Back to football, not underinflated footballs:

Ravens coach John Harbaugh got in front of the Ravens’ role, or non-role, in “Deflategate” by being forthcoming with his answers at Wednesday’s press conference.

As a result, the focus has returned to the field, at least until the next report or revelation. No team needs off-field distractions. Regardless of what people believe happened, Harbaugh helped diffuse a storyline that could have lingered longer over camp.

RELATED: Steve Smith shares a few stories about his younger years

-  When should you start to worry about WR Breshad Perriman’s absence? 

The rookie receiver has missed the last five practices with a knee injury. Harbaugh sounded Wednesday as if Perriman would miss a few more days.

I think Perriman’s absence is unfortunate, but not critical – yet. But if he doesn’t return to practice before the preseason opener (Aug. 13) against the Saints, I’d start to worry. The Ravens need to be careful with their first-round pick, but Perriman also needs to be taking reps and building chemistry with Joe Flacco. No other receiver on the roster has Perriman’s speed, and that’s an element the Ravens need in their offense after losing both Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.

-  Did the Ravens really upgrade themselves at backup quarterback with Matt Schaub?

Schaub has thrown the most interceptions during practices. Interceptions were a major problem for Schaub with the Texans. Meanwhile, former Ravens backup Tyrod Taylor is battling for the Bills’ starting job, and is certainly more mobile and less turnover-prone that Schaub.

Harbaugh has been a huge supporter of Schaub, and defended him again Wednesday.

“I feel great about Matt Schaub as a backup quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “Tyrod Taylor was just the kind of backup quarterback we wanted. Why? Because he’s a good player (but) a totally different quarterback than Matt. Matt is a heck of a backup quarterback, because he’s a good player, and we feel comfortable Matt can win for us.”

It will be interesting to see how Schaub looks during preseason games. But the Ravens will keep their fingers crossed that Flacco’s phenomenal durability continues. He has never missed a start in seven seasons.

MORE RAVENS: Wednesday Practice: Ravens WR continues to stand out

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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline


Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

Le'Veon Bell decided not to return to the Steelers this season, and his former teammates have apparently decided they can have his belongings. 

The All-Pro running back didn't sign his $14.5 million franchise tag by Tuesday's deadline, and thus is ineligible to play this season.

Steelers player were seen plundering his locker Wednesday in front of reporters. Defensive end Bud Dupree went right for Bell's cleats, thanking him for the Jordan brand shoes and saying he wishes Bell success.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he sent Bell his well-wishes, but got no response from his former backfield mate. 

It's unclear what Bell plans to do next, but it's crystal clear the Steelers have moved on, with his shoes in tow. 


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Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco


Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has had his fair share of life changing moments. 

Winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, being drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and come Sunday, possibly his first NFL start.

With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, the 21-year-old could be leading the Ravens for a full 60 minutes against division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what could be a defining moment of their season.

"I'm just going into it like any other week," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just preparing for whatever."

While Jackson has appeared in all nine games going 7-for-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown, he is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 draft that has yet to start this season. 

When asked how he would feel if his name is called Sunday, Jackson said he would have butterflies at first but added once the ball is snapped, "it's on."

Through the Ravens' first half of the season, how and when Jackson is utilized at either quarterback or receiver, has lacked consistency. Add in the lack of highlight reel passes from him and many are concerned he's not ready for an NFL start. 

The fast style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something Jackson admittedly struggled with throughout the preseason. But with nine regular season games under his belt, Jackson feels that is the area where he's taken the biggest strides. 

"Calling the plays," Jackson said. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."

Head coach John Harbaugh offered no insight on who would be their starting quarterback on Sunday and it can be expected he'll keep hush up until the last moment. Flacco was not on the practice field during media availability Wednesday, either. 

But let's not forget the other veteran quarterback on their roster; Robert Griffin III

For the first time since 2009, the Ravens decided to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for this very reason.

After sitting out of football for a year, RGIII was given a second chance in Baltimore, but has been a gameday inactive since the start of the season. If the week progresses and neither Flacco or Jackson seem ready, it could be the comeback of the once Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday on if he feels prepared to possibly start. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Both RGIII and Jackson said that it would be "awesome" if they were named the starting QB on Sunday, but that no matter who it ends up being they're all here for one another.

"I'm going to continue to help [Lamar] just like I have all season because we're about the Ravens here," Griffin III said. "It's not about individuals. We've got a pretty daunting task ahead with this Bengals team and then just with the rest of our schedule, so we've got to make sure we make the most of every opportunity."