The first couple of days of Baltimore Ravens training camp are always exciting because there’s a feeling that football is back. That feeling was amplified even more when the Ravens put the pads on for the first time on Tuesday.

The physicality and energy naturally get turned up a notch when the pads go on because it’s the closest thing to actually playing a game.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was pleased with the way practice went on Tuesday. He loved the energy the Ravens played with. Harbaugh said the players did a great job playing fast and physical while not putting each other in harm’s way. 

“Well, this is the first time – when the pads come on – that it becomes a physical contest, a football contest in that sense,” Harbaugh said. “So, you don’t have that before you put pads on and get into these drills that are – though they are not 100 percent live by any stretch – they are still going to be physical contests.”

Padded practices are always a good opportunity to see what kind of fight a young offensive or defensive lineman has inside of them. The one-on-one part of practice is a test of manhood and pride. Players are going to get beat, but how fiercely they compete comes to the surface. 

For others, it’s a time to try new moves they’ve been working to develop. Nose tackle Michael Pierce said he’s been developing a few moves with outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith. 

“For linemen, especially nose guards and ‘D’ tackles, the ‘shells’ as we call them, those soft pads, don’t really tell much,” Pierce said. “That’s where you get to see the young guys who you think can make the team and all that kind of stuff. For me, it’s about trying stuff and just making sure I add some different things in my repertoire going into the season. I had a blast today.”

Pierce suffered torn biceps in Week 3 and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on September 29, 2022. So, getting the chance to bang around with the pads on was a welcome experience. He’s looking to dominate up front and make life easier for those directly behind him like linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen.

Queen was excited about getting the pads on too. He explained how things change for linebackers when they wear pads. 

“You have to be more physical. I think that’s the main focus of today. Even if you mess up – mess up 100 percent – being physical,” Queen said. “So, everything else we can correct in the film room, in the classroom, but the main focus of today is just come out and get past Day One, set the tone and just look to get better from there.” 

Fans got to see the Ravens up close as they took part in an open practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Tuesday. Being in front of the fans naturally brings the energy up too. The fans were treated to touchdown passes from Lamar Jackson to Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor and Zay Flowers. 

Tyler Hamilton
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