OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- With many veterans sitting out during optional OTA workouts, younger players get more reps and a better chance to show off their ability. Safety DeShon Elliott took full advantage during a Ravens workout June 6 as the second-year safety made the play of the day and perhaps the best play seen at any of the three sessions open to the media.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III aired a deep ball down the left sideline intended for receiver Jaylen Smith, and Elliott showed great range and closing speed as he drifted over and made a diving interception along the sideline.
Elliott, a sixth-round draft pick out of Texas last year, spent the entire season on injured reserve after breaking his arm in a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. Elliott figures to be a backup behind free-agent acquisition Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson, neither of whom practiced June 6. (Jefferson, who is still on the mend from offseason ankle surgery, again watched from the sideline.)
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Elliott played with a physical style during training camp last year, and if he flashes the kind of athleticism and nose for the ball he showed June 6, he can find his way onto the field at times this season.
Here are some other observations of the team's final OTA workout open to the media. Next week the team assembles for its three-day mandatory minicamp:
SOME HITS, SOME MISSES WITH JACKSON: All eyes remain on quarterback Lamar Jackson to gauge his progress from Year 1 to Year 2, and he had an uneven practice. He floated a nice ball to tight end Nick Boyle during a 7-on-7 drill, but at times when flushed from the pocket he reverted to nearly sidearm throws that seemingly go away from the mechanics he focused on this offseason.
Jackson and receiver Chris Moore connected on several passes, and any chemistry developed this spring will serve them well this fall. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Moore, a fourth-year receiver who had 19 catches for 196 yards last year, could be a "breakout candidate" this season.
During a red-zone drill, Jackson had a pass intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Brandon Carr, though there was clearly some miscommunication between quarterback and receiver as Carr was all by himself.
BOYKIN, DIXON BACK, H. HURST HELD OUT: Rookie third-round draft pick Miles Boykin was back on the practice field this week. He had been held out the past couple of weeks with a hamstring injury. Also, running back Kenneth Dixon was back on the field, his first appearance at an OTA open to the media. As he took to the field, he let the media know that he strongly refuted any reports that he might be injured.
Tight end Hayden Hurst did not practice, and head coach John Harbaugh said afterward that he had a minor hamstring issue they were treating with caution. Rookie first-round pick Marquise Brown (foot) again watched from the sideline and did some light work on the JUGS machine. The timetable for him to hit the field after offseason surgery on a Lisfranc injury has always been training camp.
In addition to Hurst, Jefferson and Thomas, others absent from the workout included cornerback Marlon Humphrey, cornerback Cyrus Jones, linebacker Matt Judon, guard Alex Lewis (shoulder), linebacker Pernell McPhee, linebacker Michael Pierce, wide receiver Seth Roberts, cornerback Jimmy Smith and guard Marshal Yanda.
KOCH HOLDS ON: Backup kicker Kaare Vedvik handled kicking duties and uncharacteristically missed field-goal tries from 36 and 48 yards. But Vedvik nailed a 58-yarder after holder Sam Koch made a tremendous recovery of a wide snap from backup long snapper Matthew Orzech. Koch's impact on this team is well known, but it was a good example of why outgoing special teams coach Jerry Rosburg has called Koch the best holder in NFL history.
PICKING PAUL JOHNSON'S BRAIN:
Former Navy and Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson watched the Ravens practice and said he was planning to meet with the Ravens' staff afterward. Harbaugh joked that the Ravens and Johnson were going to hold a clinic "into the wee hours."
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