OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have wrapped up their second of three weeks of organized team activities. These voluntary practices are really the first chances to put the playbook into motion on the field. That means each session is extremely valuable for Mike Macdonald.
The new defensive coordinator is back with the organization after a year in the same role at the University of Michigan. Before that he was the Ravens linebackers coach. In Owings Mills he is no longer locked down to one specific positional area during individual drills.
"It’s a little bit different in [individual drills], I don’t have a group anymore," he said. "So, I just find myself wandering around a little bit trying to figure out what station to go to next."
Between 2014 and 2020 Macdonald rose quickly within the Ravens ranks, starting as an intern. He turns 35 years old later this month. He is the youngest defensive coordinator in the NFL and youngest in Ravens franchise history.
"It is a little surreal being back in the building in a different role," he said.
He is preaching versatility to his players. These past two weeks have been about defensive concepts rather than singular responsibilities.
"The more we keep offenses guessing and the more that we’re putting our best guys out there that can go play fast, the better off," said Macdonald.
"We don’t just play one position. We can play each position," added safety Marcus Williams. "So, he puts it like that for us so that we know everything, really."
Said cornerback Marlon Humphrey: "He is actually doing a unique job I’ve kind of never experienced. He’s really having everybody understand the whole philosophy of mainly just the group of a coverage as opposed to you have this call. How do you play this call? He is kind of saying grouping these calls all together - what is the whole idea of this call?
"I really just like the flexibility that I’ve been seeing with what he’s been doing. The vision kind of that I’ve seen is we want to have it to where any defensive back could play any position at any time."
The Ravens are stocked with them. They signed Williams in free agency and drafted safety Kyle Hamilton in the first round. Safety Chuck Clark remains on the roster. They will also get cornerback Marcus Peters back from injury as they try to improve on last season's their last place league ranking in pass defense.
"Right now we’re just trying to see where all the pieces fit and see the system come together and so far so good, I’d say," said Macdonald. "So, we’re looking forward to finishing this thing out strong."
They will finish things out next week by wrapping up OTA’s. Mandatory minicamp arrives on June 14.