OWINGS MILLS, Md. — During a 7-on-7 period at Ravens practice Aug. 25, Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews cut across the field and appeared ready to make another catch. This time, though, cornerback Tavon Young arrived just as the ball did and broke up the pass.
It was another example of how Young, at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, plays bigger than his size, and how he could be another key element in the Ravens’ secondary this season after missing the entire 2019 season with a neck injury.
Before that injury, Young was establishing himself as one of the top slot cornerbacks in the game, and the Ravens recognized that with a three-year, $25.8 million contract extension before last season. But then a neck injury that required surgery sidelined Young all season — his second season-ending injury in four years. Young missed the entire 2017 season after he suffered a torn ACL during a spring OTA practice.
Now healthy again, Young said, “I’m excited to be back with my guys,” calling it “a blessing” to be playing again after a second missed season.
Originally a fourth-round pick out of Temple, Young recorded 50 tackles and two interceptions as a rookie in 2016, playing in all 16 games. After missing the 2017 season, Young registered 36 tackles, two sacks and an interception in 2018 and also scored two touchdowns on fumble recoveries.
With Young sidelined last year, the Ravens mixed and matched their defenders, using players such as Marlon Humphrey in the slot, where he had little previous experience. In the Ravens ideal arrangement, Humphrey and fellow Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters will man the outside positions and Young will be the nickel back in the slot.
At times Young will be matched up against smaller slot receivers, and at other times he could be asked to handle bigger receivers or tight ends. In practice Aug. 25, Young made disruptive plays against Andrews, Marquise Brown and Willie Snead, among others.
He has shown he will not back down from that physical challenge. As a rookie, he broke up a pass at the goal line intended for Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert — who had about nine inches and 60 pounds on Young.
He showed that again Aug. 25 with the play on Andrews, who has had his way with Ravens defenders this summer after his breakout 2019 season. Young said facing a player of Andrews’ caliber every day is only going to help him once the season begins.
“He’s one of the best tight ends in the league,” Young said, adding, “We go at it.”
Head coach John Harbaugh praised Young’s conditioning and said, “He looks to me like he picked up right where he left off before. He’s really trained hard, you can see that. He’s moving great. He’s a very good football player.”
TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK
VET DAY OFF FOR SEVERAL: Nearly a dozen players sat out the padded practice, with several of them likely receiving a veteran’s day off. That group included offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, tight end Nick Boyle, cornerback Jimmy Smith, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe.
Wide receiver Chris Moore remained sidelined by a broken finger, and others who missed practice with injuries included running back-returner Kenjon Barner, cornerback Josh Nurse, running back Justice Hill and tight end Eli Wolf.
RAVENS SIGN WR WHITE, P TOWNSEND: The Ravens signed wide receiver DeAnthony White and punter Johnny Townsend, and both took part in practice Aug. 25. White, 28, originally signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2015. He has also played for the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. In 10 games with the Panthers last year, White had four catches for 51 yards and averaged 22.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns.
Townsend, 25, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2018 and punted for them for one season before being cut last summer.
The Ravens had open spots on their roster after the release of Earl Thomas and after moving receiver Antoine Wesley (shoulder) to injured reserve, so no corresponding roster moves were necessary.
ROUGH DAY FOR SCOTT: Wide receiver Jaleel Scott had a tough day as he competes for a final wide receiver roster spot. Scott had several passes fall just out of reach or glance off his hands. After a deep ball down the left sideline bounced off his fingertips and fell incomplete, Scott ripped off his helmet and threw it toward the woods, leading officials to throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. Scott later made a nice end-zone catch behind Marcus Peters in a red zone drill, but Scott appeared to land hard on the ball and was slow to get up.
PLAYING ONE-ON-ONE: The Ravens once again held a spirited one-on-one matchup period, featuring an offensive and defensive player paired off while the rest of the team watches. Harbaugh loves the competitive nature of it. One great battle featured rookie guard Ben Bredeson holding firm against rookie defensive tackle Broderick Washington. The defense won its share, too; linebacker Malik Harrison showed good coverage ability to break up a pass intended for tight end Patrick Scarff, and linebacker Tyus Bowser made a nice move to get around Sean Pollard, with the defensive players howling that Pollard should have been called for holding.
QUICK HITS: Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed two practices this past weekend, had a couple of misfires when he and the receiver weren’t on the same page. Chuck Clark nearly turned one into an interception. … During a red-zone drill, the Ravens’ defense batted down back-to-back passes by Jackson. Tyus Bowser tipped away one pass and Brandon Williams got a hand on the other. … One of the best catches of the day came from tight end Jerrell Adams, who extended an arm over the middle to haul in a catch. Later in practice, Andrews made a juggling catch and came down off balance, essentially landing face-mask first, but he popped right up.
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