OWINGS MILLS, Md. --- Over the last two days, the Baltimore Ravens took part in joint practices with the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to their preseason matchup on Thursday. The general perception of joint practices during the hot month of August typically revolve around one notion: fights.
Though this is something that does occur from time-to-time when teams work together, there's a lot more to these types of practices, particularly on the positive side. The results of the last two days between the Ravens and Jaguars provide a strong example of that.
For the Ravens, practicing against teammates does have its benefits. The defense gets the opportunity to try and defend a dynamic quarterback in Lamar Jackson and the offense works against a unit that has the potential to be as stout as anyone in 2019. Even with that, competing against different players in different setups provided Baltimore with a chance to play against another system and face off with top-level talent they are seeing on a daily basis.
“You see different defenses, you see different schemes, you see different speeds and talent," head coach John Harbaugh said. "Everything is different.”
"We just got a different look, so I got to go against different centers," defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. "Yes, it will help us come Thursday and come the season too."
Not only is the opportunity to work with an unfamiliar opponent good for experience's sake, but it can act as a checkpoint for both coaches and players. Getting new looks will help one learn what to do and what not to do next time around, but it also allows you to take a note of where you stand against the competition.
Second-year offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr.'s size allows him to gain an advantage on smaller defenders at times, but going against the likes of Calais Campbell opened his eyes as to how to block someone with a similar body style.
"It's not often I get to face someone who is similar to my height," Brown Jr. said. "It's a little bit more awkward for me, just because of leverage."
In addition to the learning experience it provided, the joint practices also brought an intensity that is hard to replicate with individual practices. Putting on the pads and getting on the field against guys with a different logo on their helmets, the joint practices had a feel of a game. In the end, the Ravens want to be the better team.
"Anytime you go against another opponent, you want to set the tone for what they expect on Thursday, and they want to do the same," Pierce said. "It's a little bit more intense."
"It's not all sunshine and roses. It's competitive out here, man."
The intensity was also felt in the atmosphere surrounding what was going on in between the lines. Harbaugh has also been a proponent of fans experiencing the practices, and Monday and Tuesday ramped that up a bit. With Ravens fans cheering on their squad, and some Jacksonville supporters scattered throughout, the excitement was at a high.
“This atmosphere right here. I’m looking over the camera’s shoulders. Getting to see all of our players, Jaguars players too, some of them. All of our fans, Special Olympics, kids. It blows me away, it’s like a carnival out here," Harbaugh said. "It’s really awesome.”
Even with all the intensity in Owings Mills, things never escalated to a point where hands were thrown or ejections were made. A few plays got physical, but nothing came of it.
Not all teams chomp at the bit to participate in joint practices, and sometimes they do lead to some unfortunate and negative circumstances. But the last two days between the Ravens and Jaguars showed the positive side. With hard work and no hard feelings, both teams walked away better than they were before.
“We got a lot done, they got a lot done," Harbaugh said. “It was very professional on both sides, we got our work done and respected one another. It was good.”
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