Baltimore Ravens training camp, Day 2: With Dez Bryant in town, will other receivers step up?


    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin catches a pass during a joint NFL football practice with the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)AP

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens football is back. The team held its first practice in pads Monday, and over the next few weeks, I’ll provide a schedule for the happenings each day of training camp, a way to follow the action and some thoughts on what I’ll be watching closely. Here’s the rundown for Day 2 of practices open to the media.

    The Ravens will take the field at 9 a.m. at the Under Armour Performance Center for a practice expected to last about an hour and 50 minutes. Afterward, coach John Harbaugh, quarterback Lamar Jackson, cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Earl Thomas are scheduled to speak to the media.

    Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant arrived in the Baltimore area Monday night before a scheduled workout with the team, according to photos and reports. Bryant, 31, hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2017, but if he’s anywhere near his top form, he has the ability to supply the Ravens the type of established physical receiver who thrives pulling down contested catches the offense previously lacked.

    Bryant will need to undergo coronavirus testing before entering the Ravens’ facility, and reporters won’t be permitted to watch his workout. So it could be a few days before we know whether the Ravens will sign Bryant and before media see him on the field.

    In the meantime, it’s worth keeping an eye on some of the Ravens’ other receivers.

    MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson regularly looked to throw to tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Marquise Brown in coach-designed third-down situations during Monday’s practice. That underscored Jackson’s connect with his two most productive targets from last year.

    But the reason the Ravens might benefit from Bryant’s presence is that they passing offense lacked balance last year. Andrews and Brown were the team’s only players to total more than 350 receiving yards in 2019.

    With Bryant in town, Baltimore’s other receivers — from returning contributors Willie Snead and Miles Boykin to rookies Devin Duvernay and James Proche to roster hopefuls Jaleel Scott and Antonie Wesley — face pressure to more consistently impress in practice.

    If Baltimore signs Bryant, there will be one fewer roster spot and less playing time to go around amongst pass-catching. Tuesday’s performances could hint at which Ravens receivers respond well to that reality.  

    The Ravens signed running back Kenjon Barner last week to add an experienced returner to the roster, and Monday, four wide receivers joined him in a line to field punts during the special teams portion of the practice: Snead, Brown, Duvernay and Proche. If one of those wideouts can handle punt-return duties, Baltimore might be able to release Barner and save a roster spot.

    Not only that, but the Ravens could unearth a budding star returner if Duvernay or Proche show a knack for the job. Monday brings another opportunity for evaluation.

    The Ravens prohibit phone and tablet usage while on the practice field, but I’ll provide updates and analysis from the practice when possible on Twitter (@AaronKazreports) and will post videos to PennLive’s Ravens Facebook page. In the afternoon, you’ll find a story on our Ravens page filled with training camp observations that aim to give you a rundown of how practice unfolded.

    Below, you’ll find a full Twitter list of Ravens players, team accounts, reporters and more that can keep you abreast of the ongoings in Owings Mills.

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