No chains were pulled, no punches thrown.
No words, in fact, appeared to have been exchanged between Rams cornerback Aqib Talib and Baltimore Ravens receiver Michael Crabtree during two joint practices.
But Talib was a huge presence Tuesday, intercepting the first pass of the day in a drill and starting an onslaught of interceptions by the Rams.
“We got one early and they kept on coming,” Talib said. “They kept on rolling.”
The Rams traded for Talib and cornerback Marcus Peters during the offseason to improve the defense’s turnover capability.
Talib, an 11th-year pro, has 34 interceptions. Peters has 19 interceptions in three seasons.
Both made big impressions during offseason workouts, a minicamp and early in training camp, but Tuesday was the first time they prominently displayed their ball-hawking skills in the same practice.
Talib set the tone immediately by picking off a pass by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Peters later snatched a Flacco pass in the end zone during a full-team drill.
Safety John Johnson and linebacker Ramik Wilson also intercepted passes on another hot and muggy afternoon.
Flacco and, notably, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson also burned the Rams a few times. But a defense that features several new players appears to be making strides with Talib as a veteran leader.
All eyes were on Talib and Crabtree throughout the two days because the players had fought while playing for different teams in each of the last two seasons. Talib pulled a gold chain from Crabtree’s neck in both incidents.
As was the case Monday, when they lined up opposite each other 10 times, there were no incidents between them. Talib covered Crabtree only twice Tuesday on plays that went another direction.
When asked about their history, and the lack of sparks during the two workouts, Talib chose some colorful language while twice describing the issue as “dead.”
There were a few minor flareups between other players during a punt-return drill and in the moments after Peters intercepted a pass, but the Rams appeared to have emerged otherwise unscathed.
The Rams will hold a walkthrough Wednesday and then play the Ravens Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
Holdout defensive tackle Aaron Donald did not report by the midnight EDT deadline that would allow him to accrue a season toward gaining unrestricted free-agent status in 2019.
“No update on Aaron,” coach Sean McVay said earlier in the day.
Donald is set to earn about $6.9 million this season but is believed to be seeking an extension that would put him among the NFL’s highest-paid players.
If Donald eventually reports, he could become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, though the Rams could blunt that scenario by putting the franchise tag on him for as many as three seasons.
McVay has been in contact with Donald, but said he does not broach contract talks.
“It’s more just about checking in, how’s his family doing, things like that,” McVay said. “I think when we are able to get in touch with each other face to face is kind of when you want to have that kind of dialogue.”
Hot, humid homecoming
Running back Todd Gurley grew up in Baltimore and in North Carolina, and played in college at Georgia.
But he apparently is no longer accustomed to practicing in hot and humid conditions.
“That’s what happens,” he said. “You forget.”
Gurley grew up rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and said he was happy when the team traded infielder/slugger Manny Machado to the Dodgers.
“All we need is Adam Jones to come on over there and I’ll be completely fine,” he said of the Orioles outfielder.
Defensive lineman Michael Brockers did not practice. … Cornerback Ramon Richards made several plays and got teammates roaring when he faked out two Ravens players and dashed upfield during an aggressive punt-coverage drill. … Talib on LeBron James joining the Lakers: “I’m trying to get some season tickets on the floor. I think they sold out but I’m breaking the bank for ’em, man. So Bron, King James, help me out.”