Rams, Ravens benefit from productive, fight-free practice
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay took his team across the country in an effort to escape the typically mundane NFL training camp practice that’s all too commonplace in August.
He got exactly what he wanted Monday during a two-hour joint session with the Baltimore Ravens.
“It was a good first day,” McVay said. “Guys practiced smart, we were able to get a lot out of it.”
It was hot. It was humid. There was hard hitting.
And not a single scuffle.
“That was definitely the message,” McVay said. “We don’t need any of that, especially because some of the things that can happen injury-wise. We always talk about what the intent of practice is out here, and it’s to get better and go against another really good football team.”
The Rams and Ravens got all the benefits of competition, with less risk of injury because tackling was not allowed.
“I felt like the two teams cooperated very well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Quite a bit of physicality and just a good, strong football practice.”
The teams will do it again Tuesday, then take a break on Wednesday before getting together for a preseason game on Thursday night.
A joint practice provides a welcome relief for players who are tired of banging helmets or throwing passes against their teammates during the dog days of summer.
“It’s tough really, what to make of it, but I think it is a good test,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “You get used to going up against your defense, seeing what they do every day, so it’s good to see something else.”
McVay knew he was in for something different when he got his first glimpse of the Ravens recently expanded training facility.
“I love it. It’s really impressive,” he said. “You feel like you’re pulling up to a country club.”
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti poured plenty of money into the complex, and he was on hand Monday to watch the practice. So was Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who wore shorts but made the mistake of pairing that with a black shirt under a sizzling sun in 90 degree temperatures.
“It’s definitely sticky,” McVay said. “You feel the difference coming out here. We get spoiled in that California weather where there’s no humidity, but I think it’s great work for us. The fields are in great condition; today was a good day for us all.”
After both teams dressed, the Rams and Ravens warmed up on adjacent fields before pairing off — Rams offense vs. Ravens defense, Baltimore offense vs. Los Angeles defense.
Special teams got some work, too.
It was so comprehensive, that McVay may change the way he uses his personnel on Thursday night.
Asked if quarterback Jared Goff would see action, the coach replied, “There’s a good chance a handful of guys, if we feel like we get the work that we want, will sit out on Thursday. That’s a big part of being able to get good work in here and kind of limit the risk of injuries.”
Defensive end Aaron Donald remained a no-show at camp, and McVay said there was no progress on the holdout.
“I don’t think anything is going to change with that in the near future,” McVay said. “I’ve had a little bit of dialogue with Aaron, and we’re hopeful to get something done. But things remain the same.”
Ravens guard Marshal Yanda, however, practiced for the first time since last September, going through individual drills over the first section of practice. He missed the last 14 games of the 2017 season with a fractured ankle and sat out the early part of training camp following shoulder surgery.