The Ravens’ newcomers have a final opportunity this week to get acclimated to the NFL before reporting to McDaniel College for training camp on July 27.
The offseason OTA schedule concludes this week with a rookie camp, allowing coaches to work more closely with the team’s six draft picks and numerous rookie free agents vying for a regular season roster spot.
“It’s obviously a different atmosphere and tempo because the vets aren’t here,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s a little slow. We take a little more time between reps. I don’t want to say it was more teaching, because there is a lot of teaching when the [veterans] are here, too. But it was a little more fundamentally-oriented, a little simpler with the calls, but they did a good job.”
The rumors circulating about Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall were a hot topic at the training facility in Owings Mills. The disgruntled receiver wants to be traded, and the receiver position is an area of concern with Derrick Mason (shoulder), Mark Clayton (foot), and Demetrius Williams (ankle) all slowed by injuries this offseason.
Earlier in the offseason, the Ravens explored a trade for Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin, but the Cardinals’ reported asking price of a first- and third-round pick and Boldin’s demands for a new contract proved too steep.
Marshall’s contract expires after this season, so a new deal would be needed. The Pro Bowl receiver has grabbed 206 receptions in the last two seasons.
“We’re interested in anybody that can help our team,” Harbaugh said. “You know [Marshall] plays for the Broncos, and he’s under contract. So he’s not a guy that we’re considering or concerned with right now. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
His off-the-field issues are also a concern, including a pending misdemeanor battery charge. Marshall has had several run-ins with the law since beginning his NFL career in 2006.
“[A player’s] background matters,” Harbaugh said. “We want to bring guys in here that are what we consider ‘Ravens.’ Any player that we bring in here, we’ve got to be convinced that he’s a man of integrity, a high-character guy and that our players can respect him in the locker room. That’s going to be true whether it’s in a draft or free agency or any guys we choose to re-sign. We look at that real hard because we think those are the type of people that you win with, and we’re never going to compromise on that.”
– Veteran tight ends Todd Heap and L.J. Smith have been slowed by injuries during OTAs, leaving plenty of reps for rookie Davon Drew.
The fifth-round pick, who signed a three-year contract last week, will most likely contribute on special teams but has impressed coaches with his route-running ability. He credits Heap and Smith in helping him adjust to the NFL.
“Definitely when you’re just standing around those guys–veterans that have been doing it–that’s something that makes you want to be just like them,” Drew said. “I look up to those guys. Anytime I have a question or something, they help me out and sometimes when I don’t even ask them things, they just come up and give me tips or pointers. I’m appreciative of the situation I’m in.”
– Former Maryland Terp and rookie receiver Isaiah Williams faces an uphill battle making the regular season roster, but he jumped at the chance to become a Baltimore Raven.
Despite having discussions with other teams including the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and San Diego Chargers, the undrafted rookie signed with the Ravens only 20 minutes after the April draft ended.
“I just felt this was the best place for me,” Williams said. “It’s close to where I went to school, so it’s something I’m used to and real familiar with. I love it.”
The 6-3 receiver has good speed but never lived up to lofty expectations at College Park, catching 64 passes for 902 yards and five touchdowns in his Maryland career.
Williams has been slowed with a hamstring injury this week.
– Be sure to join WNST tonight at The Barn at 7:00 p.m. to meet many of the Ravens rookies including Michael Oher, Paul Kruger, Lardarius Webb, and others. It will be a great time getting to know the rookies and enjoying $1.75 Miller Lite.