OWINGS MILLS — Roughly two hours into Tuesday’s joint practice between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at the Under Armour Performance Center, the combination of heat and physical play finally boiled over into one of the few scrums of the two-day workout.
Moments after Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette crashed into the Ravens’ defensive front at the goal line during red-zone team drills, a small skirmish erupted between players on both sides. The incident, which featured Ravens linebacker Tim Williams and safety DeShon Elliott, ended almost as quickly as it began, setting the stage for Thursday’s preseason opener between the two teams at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It’s not all sunshine and roses, right? It’s competitive out there, man,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “It was a couple guys talking, I think two plays the whole practice, and pretty quickly pulled them apart. Nobody wants to be the first guy to walk away, but I thought everyone kept their discipline very well.”
While the two teams agreed to only engage in live tackling during goal-line drills, both clubs provided intense competition whenever the AFC opponents shared the same practice field. In addition to joint 11-on-11 action and special teams training, Baltimore and Jacksonville brought their players together for multiple individual drills.
Monday saw Ravens running backs attempting to fight off Jaguar linebackers in pass blocking drills, while Tuesday showcased the same group battling in coverage practices. On both days, receivers attempted to catch passes from their quarterbacks while covered by an opposing defensive back during entertaining 1-on-1 battles.
“We’re all out here trying to get better,” Ravens defensive tackle Wilie Henry said. “Jacksonville, these last two days, did a great job of practicing with us. Also, I give my guys credit. We had a little scrum, but we have that during our own practices. It’s just something natural that comes with the game.”
For the Ravens, the highlight of Tuesday’s practice came during a red zone scenario, as second-year tight end Mark Andrews leapt up over a pair of Jacksonville defenders to haul in Lamar Jackson’s pass with one hand near the back of the end zone.
“Making plays is really the thing,” Harbaugh said. “When it’s all said and done, all the scheme, everything we do, it’s going to come down to whether the player makes the play or not, in the end. So, when you see players make plays in an environment like that, it’s good.”
Twice, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was beat for a pair of long passes on Tuesday, including a perfect strike from new Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles to Chris Conley down the far sideline that proved to be the visitors’ top play of the afternoon.
“It’s always exciting to go against another team, especially one as talented as Baltimore. They’re a really well-round team, they’re a playoff team, and their defense has been great for a really long time, so being able to compete against them was a lot of fun,” noted Foles, who earned Super Bowl MVP honors two years ago while with the Philadelphia Eagles. “I thought both sides handled it really well.”
This week marked the second consecutive training camp that the Ravens have hosted a joint practice after they worked out with the Los Angeles Rams prior to a preseason game last August.
It also represents the first of two joint practices that Baltimore will participate in this summer. The Ravens will work out in Philadelphia later this month prior to a preseason game with the Eagles.
“Anytime you go against another opponent, you want to set the tone for what they want to expect on Thursday, and they want to do the same. It’s a little bit more intense,” Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. “You get tired going against your own guys. We have some work to do, but it was fun.”
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