WNST notes from Ravens passing camp

June 09, 2009 | Luke Jones

The Ravens are holding their last full-squad voluntary passing camp this week before wrapping up the OTA schedule with rookie camp next week.

This week’s workouts are focused on game planning for their three AFC North opponents.  Coaches and players have discussed opposing personnel and simulated game-week preparation for the rookies and newcomers.  The team focused on Cincinnati Monday, Cleveland today, and will examine the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday.

Coach John Harbaugh borrowed this approach from his days with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid.

-  Todd Heap continues to make his way back from a back injury suffered at the end of last season.  Harbaugh is encouraged with the veteran tight end’s work this week, particularly on Monday.

“Todd seems like he’s really come along,” Harbaugh said.  “He did more yesterday probably than he did today.  I think he was a little bit sore from the workload yesterday, but that’s a good sign.  Once you get to the point where the injury’s not causing the soreness and the workload’s causing the soreness, now you can start working your way to where you need to be.  Significant progress, and hopefully, he can do a little bit more tomorrow.”

Despite the Ravens’ interest in drafting tight end Brandon Pettigrew (selected by the Detroit Lions) and the free agent signing of L.J. Smith, Heap still figures to be a major part of the Ravens’ passing attack if healthy.

One of the biggest goals for Cam Cameron’s offense will be to expand the passing game in the middle of the field and not to rely so heavily on sideline routes to Derrick Mason.

“Our expectations for Todd are to be the player he’s always been and even better,” Harbaugh said.  “All of the things he did last year sometimes get undersold…all the things in the blocking area; we want to definitely expand [his role] in the passing area.  We want to control the middle of the field with our passing game, and Todd Heap’s got to be a big part of that.”

- Receiver Marcus Smith continues to impress during offseason OTAs after failing to catch a pass during his rookie season.

The 6-1 receiver from New Mexico was a fourth round pick in 2008 and played running back for two years in college, giving him the instincts to run after the catch that many receivers lack.

“We’ve always thought Marcus was going to be a really good player,” Harbaugh said.  “He’s physical, he’s tough, and he’s a hard worker.  That’s a good place to start…I’m excited about Marcus.”

-  Harbaugh will join New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, and former NFL head coaches Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden on a tour of the Persian Gulf at the end of the month.

The Ravens regularly invite military service members to the complex in Owings Mills, and Harbaugh is honored to receive the opportunity to visit with active military personnel.

“I think I’m going to learn more and enjoy it more probably than [the troops will], for sure,” Harbaugh said.  “What am I going to say to them?  I’m looking forward to what they have to say.  It’s going to be a neat trip.”

The head coach jokingly downplayed the significance of being invited on the trip in only his second year in the NFL head coaching fraternity.

“Maybe I’m just one of the guys who said yes.  Who knows?  It’s going to be a great opportunity to go with some neat coaches, too.”

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