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Ray Lewis and Snoop Dogg in Westminster

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Live from Snoop-minster: Pics & vids of Snoop Dogg in the hizzouse at Ravens camp here!

Posted on 06 August 2009 by Luke Jones

7:46 p.m. — Practice will get underway at 8:45 a.m. on Friday morning.  The team will have a special teams practice at 2 p.m. with special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Jerry Rosburg running the show.

Harbaugh will be attending the memorial service of former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.  The two men coached together in Philadelphia for a decade before Harbaugh became the head coach of the Ravens in 2008.

5:28 p.m. — Happy birthday to Frank Walker.  In honor of his 28th birthday, he was allowed to break the team huddle at the end of the afternoon practice.

How did he celebrate?  Walker worked on his conditioning by running laps around the field after practice.

5:19 p.m. — Just when we thought Marcus Smith’s weight fluctuation problem was settled, the wide receiver did not practice this afternoon, though he was running on his own out on the field.

With Smith having problems staying on the practice field and Clayton sidelined for the next few weeks, Kelley Washington and Justin Harper will both get looks at the No. 3 position.  Washington is a little more polished while running his routes, but Harper continues to stretch the field unlike any other receiver on the roster.

5:10 p.m. — Another interesting competition to watch this summer is the battle for the kick and punt returner jobs.

At this point in camp, Chris Carr is No. 1 on the depth chart at kick returner and punt returner, but we’ve seen a plethora of other players returning punts, including Ed Reed, Yamon Figurs, Jayson Foster, and Lardarius Webb.

Much like we’ve seen over the last couple years, Reed continues to lobby to return punts, but it’s hard to envision the coaching staff allowing him to do it on a consistent basis.

Webb has been more of a factor returning kickoffs

4:51 p.m. — The Snoop Dogg video of the “What Time Is It?” is here…

4:32 p.m. — In Gaither’s absence, rookie right tackle Michael Oher shifted over to the left side with Marshal Yanda lining up at right tackle.  David Hale (in for Ben Grubbs) and Chris Chester were the guards with Matt Birk at his customary center position.

Oniel Cousins lined up at left tackle for the second team.

4:29 p.m. — The other significant name not to practice was Tavares Gooden.  The inside linebacker was not participating at the very end of the morning session, but I asked him about it after practice (The interview is up in the WNST.net audio vault), and he downplayed it as simply getting some rest and allowing some other players to get some first-team reps.

While we have no official word on any injury, he did appear to be favoring his right leg as he walked up the steps and back into the McDaniel gym.

4:25 p.m. — The afternoon practice lasted a little over an hour, as the team completed what was little more than a glorified walk-through.  Players were dressed in shorts, helmets, and shells, and there was no contact.

Gaither did not practice but was out on the field for the afternoon session.  Right now, we’re speculating that it has something to do with his left arm or shoulder, but we have received no further word from the Ravens on any injury.  Harbaugh said after the morning practice that Gaither was not on the trainer’s report, but it looks like there’s a little more to this story.  We’ll see if he’s out on the field tomorrow morning.

2:55 p.m. — Tavares Gooden and Jared Gaither are not practicing this afternoon. Demetrius Williams is out on the field. Brendon Ayanbadejo is also on the field with a helmet but hasn’t participated as much.

12:13 p.m. — Harbaugh continues to allow his special teams roots to shine.  At the end of practice, Harbaugh sported a yellow helmet beanie over his cap and sprinted down with the kickoff team, earning the cheers of the crowd and his players.

It’s easy to see the passion that Harbaugh has for the game, and it’s contagious with his players.

12:06 p.m. — Domonique Foxworth made one of the finer defensive plays of the morning, picking off Flacco as he tried to get the ball to Marcus Smith.

Staying in the secondary, Frank Walker had a nice day, breaking up passes on several occasions.

12:03 p.m. — The kicking battle was fairly equal today, but I’d give the slightest edge to Hauschka.  Early in practice, both kickers were perfect in a series of attempts from inside 40 yards.  As they moved further out, Gano missed a 40-yard attempt but made one from 49.  Hauschka hit a field goal from 44 but missed from 54 yards out.

11:59 a.m. — Justin Harper continues to impress on a daily basis.  Today, he battled for the football with Fabian Washington but wrestled it away for the reception.  Later in  practice, he beat Lardarius Webb for a long touchdown pass from John Beck.

Time and time again, we’ve seen Harper beat a plethora of defensive backs on the deep ball over the first two weeks of camp.

11:54 a.m. — The team spent some time early in practice working on the no-huddle offense.  On the very first play, Joe Flacco’s pass was batted up in the air and intercepted by Haloti Ngata.  Despite his massive size, Ngata is very active at the line of scrimmage as we saw last season.

Flacco rebounded after the miscue and completed a nice timing route to Derrick Mason.

The highlight of Flacco’s morning was a touchdown pass thrown to Kelley Washington on a nice fade route.  Washington worked out as the No. 2 receiver today with Clayton and Williams both missing from practice.

11:52 a.m. — Justin Bannan received the morning off since he is in the “Over 30” club.  Due to the Ravens needing him on the defensive line for practice, his off day is staggered from the rest of the veterans who were off yesterday.

11:44 a.m. — Grubbs will be out for a few days as he rehabs the ankle to get back on the field, according to Harbaugh.

11:42 a.m. — Samari Rolle worked out in shorts and a helmet this morning and appears to be working his way back to getting on the practice field.  He will sport a red jersey and will not participate in contact drills, much like Ed Reed.

11:21 a.m. — Jared Gaither limped off the field during the morning practice, but John Harbaugh said he was not on the trainer report after practice, so he should be fine.  Demetrius Williams did not practice this morning after suffering a mild concussion when he landed hard during drills yesterday.  Ben Grubbs sat out practice as he continues to deal with the same ankle issue that landed him on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.

Harbaugh also said Mark Clayton’s injured hamstring will keep him sidelined for at least two or three preseason games.  He had some significant bleeding in the hamstring, according to Harbaugh.

11:03 a.m. — Snoop Dogg and Ray Lewis made their way over to the media area. It’s been quite the scene.

Ray Lewis and Snoop Dogg in Westminster

10:38 a.m. — Our favorite line so far about the Snoop Dogg appearance here: “It’s the Westminster Dogg Show!”

Ray and Snoop

10:34 a.m. — Snoop Dogg is apparently a guest of Ray Lewis this morning in Westminster. It has been said that he will not be meeting with the fans or the media. We’ll see how he sneaks off the field. Everyone here knows he’s here and he’s had way more eyeballs than anything on the field. And, we’re sure you’ve noticed, it’s not the greatest weather day here at camp.

Fabian Washington is back on the field after a minor tweak earlier in practice. Jared Gaither has limped off the field and Ben Grubbs did not practice this morning.

10 a.m. — First things first…Twitter is screwed up this morning. No one can get on to tweet the biggest news of camp: Snoop Dogg is standing on the sidelines, running between the raindrops. He played at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night and WNST.net’s own Ray Bachman was in hizzouse. Now Snoop is at McDaniel College.

Also: in an unrelated, non-celebrity note of football, cornerback Fabian Washington pulled up lame today and sat out for a few plays but is now back on the field.

I’ll be on every :30 after the hour today on AM 1570. Check out my reports from Snoop-minster!

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Getting down to 53: An early projection

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Luke Jones

We’re a week and a half into training camp, so I thought I would give my VERY early look at the 53-man roster.  Keep in mind, injuries are bound to occur and will change the makeup of the roster considerably.

The first preseason game will take place against the Washington Redskins next Thursday night, but here’s my roster projections based on my early observations in Westminster.

I’ve listed the number of players I predict the Ravens to keep at each position in parentheses. This list does not include the practice squad of eight players the Ravens could keep in addition to the 53-man roster.

And, remember, I’m not John Harbaugh, nor will I ever claim to be.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Troy Smith, John Beck
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: Though Smith and Beck will continue to battle for the No. 2 job, there are no other quarterbacks currently in camp to even compete.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain
BUBBLE: Cedric Peerman, Jason Cook
LONGSHOT: Jalen Parmele, Matt Lawrence
Skinny: It will most likely come down to special teams in determining whether Peerman and Cook find their way on the roster. Cook would give the Ravens a backup fullback, but Cam Cameron could elect to use the tight end as a fullback in certain packages. The team could obviously choose to keep both, but we’ll see how it plays out in the preseason.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
LOCK: Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith
BUBBLE: Kelley Washington, Justin Harper, Yamon Figurs
LONG SHOT: Biren Ealy, Thomas White, Eron Riley, Ernie Wheelwright, Jayson Foster
Skinny: The team still could elect to sign another veteran receiver, especially with Mark Clayton out with a hamstring injury. Washington probably makes the team since he’s a strong special teams player, and Harper has been very impressive in the early stages of camp. Considering Figurs is no longer a lock to return kicks, his roster spot is in serious jeopardy. Riley could be a candidate for the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
LOCK: Todd Heap, L.J. Smith
BUBBLE: Edgar Jones, Davon Drew
LONG SHOT: Isaac Smolko
Skinny: The fifth-round pick Drew has been a disappointment so far after failing the initial running test at the beginning of camp and then injuring his ankle. Drew has returned to practice, but he’s currently behind Jones on the depth chart.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
LOCK: Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Chris Chester, Michael Oher, Marshal Yanda, Oniel Cousins
BUBBLE: David Hale, Tre Stallings
LONG SHOT: Robby Felix, Stefan Rodgers, Bryan Mattison, Joe Reitz
Skinny: The Ravens will likely bring in a veteran tackle to replace Adam Terry who will miss the season with a knee injury. Hale has backed up Birk at center during camp, but Chester has the ability to play center in the event of an injury.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)
LOCK: Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce, Justin Bannan
BUBBLE: Dwan Edwards, Brandon McKinney, Kelly Talavou, Lamar Divens
LONG SHOT: Will Johnson
Skinny: This unit is very deep, and the Ravens will inevitably have to part ways with a very talented player.

LINEBACKERS (9)
LOCK: Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Tavares Gooden, Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain, Paul Kruger, Brendon Ayanbadejo
BUBBLE: Jason Phillips, Dannell Ellerbe, Will VanDeSteeg, Prescott Burgess
LONG SHOT: Tony Fein
Skinny: This is another deep unit. I could envision the Ravens finding a mysterious “injury” with one or two of these young guys and stashing them on injured reserve.

CORNERBACKS (7)
LOCK: Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Samari Rolle
BUBBLE: Frank Walker, K.J. Gerard, Evan Oglesby
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: Are you noticing a theme here at the defensive positions? Once again, the Ravens will have to part ways with some talented corners, but the numbers won’t allow them to keep everyone.

SAFETIES (4)
LOCK: Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Haruki Nakamura, Tom Zbikowski
BUBBLE: Derrick Martin
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: Martin is giving himself a chance to make the roster by shifting over to work at safety, so the team could conceivably carry him on the roster if he proves effective at his new position. Otherwise, he’s squarely on the bubble at the cornerback position, too.

KICKER (1)
LOCK: None
BUBBLE: Graham Gano, Steve Hauschka
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: This battle will last through the entire preseason. Numerous Ravens officials have told me the four preseason games will carry the most weight. Both kickers have hit 50+ yard field goals during camp, but Westminster is a far cry from a Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium or Heinz Field.

PUNTER (1)
LOCK: Sam Koch
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: Koch is one of the better punters in the league, and his ability to place the ball inside the 20-yard line is a major asset. He also runs a mean fake punt play. Just ask the Cowboys.

LONG SNAPPER (1)
LOCK: Matt Katula
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: Katula is one of the most anonymous players on the team, because he does a great job. The Ravens hope it stays that way.

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Live from Westminster: Fabian Washington sits out, ‘Over 30 Club’ gets morning off

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Luke Jones

7:23 p.m. — The Ravens have signed a defensive tackle to the 80-man roster.  Nader Abdallah was out on the field during the afternoon special teams practice, wearing No. 61.

Abdallah is a rookie out of Ohio State and is 6-4 and 292 pounds.

5:09 p.m. — Another player slowed by injury is special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo.  The linebacker has battled a toe injury but is now walking around without a protective boot.  He has not tested the toe in cleats, so it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll return to the field.

Ayanbadejo said the toe is very sensitive, and he will take it slow in getting back.

5:05 p.m. — The Ravens will hold practices at 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.  Both workouts will include the full squad and are open to the public at McDaniel College.

5:03 p.m. — Harbaugh will not be present for Friday afternoon’s practice as he attends the memorial service for former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. The two men coached for a decade together in Philadelphia, and Harbaugh has referred to Johnson as a “football dad” to him.

Special teams coach Jerry Rosburg will run practice in Harbaugh’s place.

3:42 p.m. — Punter Sam Koch had quite a few reps this afternoon, and he was absolutely crushing the ball.  He continues to use the rugby-style kick to place the ball inside the 20-yard line.  On the last play of the practice, Koch put one inside the 5, but Derrick Martin could not catch the ball cleanly in the air, and it rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

3:27 p.m. — While special teams practices lack the excitement of the full-squad workouts, you will get to see some unique drills from time to time.

The Ravens practiced blocking field goals today by using volleyballs.  The rusher would come around the end with a coach throwing a volleyball from seven yards behind the line of scrimmage–the distance at which the holder will place the ball on a field goal try.  The object for each player was to either catch the volleyball or block it like a football.

Another interesting drill related to blocking kicks involved the use of towels.  The speed rusher coming around the edge on a kicking situation always wants to accelerate in a low position.  To practice this, special teams coach Jerry Rosburg has his players grab a towel on the ground as they accelerate around the edge.

3:23 p.m. — The afternoon practice lasted about an hour with the team working on a variety of drills.

The most compelling part of practice was the fun debate between members of the media, Ray Lewis, and Todd Heap over which sport has the best athletes.

Heap and Lewis logically argued for football, but they also gave credit to basketball, boxing, and hockey.  It was fun hearing the two players’ thoughts on sports other than football.

1:32 p.m. — Lardarius Webb continues to impress the coaching staff with his athleticism and coverage ability in the secondary.  The third-round selection picked off two passes this morning, one from Troy Smith and the other from John Beck.

When also considering his potential in the return game, expect Webb to be a significant factor for the Ravens in 2009.

12:50 p.m. — Rookie Paul Kruger continues to impress as he fills in for Terrell Suggs (heel) with the starting defense.  He’ll undoubtedly struggle when matched up with bigger offensive linemen, but he shows great speed off the edge.  I anticipate Kruger being a major part of the pass rush on third-down situations this season.

12:48 p.m. — Defensive back Evan Oglesby missed the morning practice after sustaining a concussion yesterday.  Oglesby is trying to win a job in a very crowded secondary.

12:45 p.m. — With Graham Gano getting the morning off from kicking, it was Steve Hauschka’s turn to shine, and he did not disappoint.  Hauschka was perfect on his attempts, including two 50-yard attempts.  The highlight of the morning was his 55-yard field goal that easily would have been good from 60+ yards.

For all of the talk about Gano’s strong kicking leg, Hauschka made a pretty strong claim today.

12:43 p.m. — Tackle Oniel Cousins and tight end Davon Drew returned to practice today.  With Adam Terry scheduled to undergo knee surgery and miss the entire season, Cousins now becomes the top reserve tackle behind Jared Gaither and Michael Oher.

12:27 p.m. — One of the best signs from the morning practice was seeing Samari Rolle working out individually during practice.  The veteran cornerback is still on the physically unable to perform list, but John Harbaugh said he could be returning in the near future.

Rolle has groin and shoulder issues dating back to last season and has been seen on the field with electronic stimulation mechanisms on his shoulder.  Today was the first time I recall him doing any real physical activity on the field.

With a healthy Rolle, this Ravens’ secondary might be as deep as it’s ever been.

12:07 p.m. — This morning’s practice lacked the intensity of yesterday’s extensive live hitting, but there were several nice plays during 11-on-11 thud action.  Joe Flacco threw a beautiful corner route to Todd Heap, hitting the tight end right over the shoulder for a touchdown.  It was definitely one of the prettier plays of camp.

Flacco also threw a nice slant to Demetrius Williams earlier in the session.

Backup quarterback Troy Smith threw an interception to safety Derrick Martin and had a difficult morning.  Smith just seemed out of sync but did have a nice sideline completion to Williams.

Not to be outdone, John Beck threw a long completion to receiver Justin Harper, as the young receiver continues to make plays in the deep passing game.

11:57 a.m. — Another morning practice is complete, and the most unexpected absence was cornerback Fabian Washington.  The starting corner has a sore knee and sat out this morning.  The injury is not expected to be serious.

The Ravens’ “Over 30 Club” sat out this morning, which includes Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Derrick Mason, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg and Matt Birk.  The veteran Birk got his morning lift out of the way early, so he could join his fellow offensive linemates on the field.  Justin Bannan is technically part of the club, but his off-day is staggered due to the team needing him on the defensive line.  He will presumably get tomorrow morning’s practice off.

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Live from Westminster: Adam Terry done for the season

Posted on 04 August 2009 by Luke Jones

5:09 p.m. — Here’s a question for you: what would the Ravens do if long snapper Matt Katula went down in the middle of a game?

We saw our answer after practice this afternoon.  Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata practiced field goal snaps while running back Willis McGahee was long snapping for punting situations.  Both players looked capable, but let’s hope neither has to be called into duty.

While the average fan has no idea who Katula is, he has certainly been an excellent long snapper since joining the Ravens in 2005.

5:00 p.m. — Another rookie to keep an eye on is defensive end Will VanDeSteeg.  At 6-4 and 256 pounds, VanDeSteeg has good size and has received a few reps with the starting defense since Terrell Suggs is currently out with a strained heel.  Paul Kruger has been taking Suggs’ place in the starting lineup.

He’s just another example of the fine work Eric DeCosta and the scouting staff do every season.  While there’s no guarantee that guys like VanDeSteeg or Dannell Ellerbe will make the team, they are more than capable of coming in and competing—exactly what you want during training camp.

4:55 p.m. — With Oniel Cousins sitting out and Adam Terry now done for the season, the Ravens had Marshal Yanda getting some work at right tackle with the second offense.  Yanda continues to impress in his recovery from three torn knee ligaments, but Chris Chester continues to receive most reps at right guard for the starting offense.

The coaching staff wants to bring Yanda along slowly, a smart decision considering how serious the injury was.

4:51 p.m. — Some of the highlights of the afternoon practice included a Domonique Foxworth interception on a flea flicker attempt from John Beck.  Beck did bounce back, however, when he rolled out to the left and completed a nice sideline pass to Ernie Wheelwright.

Joe Flacco was picked off by Lardarius Webb in the end zone, but the starting quarterback rebounded a few plays later to hit Demetrius Williams for a touchdown with Webb covering on the play.

Rookie fullback Jason Cook had a nice catch out of the backfield with fellow rookie Paul Kruger covering on the play.  Cook has a decent chance of making the team if he can show an ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

4:44 p.m. — The afternoon practice lasted a little over an hour, as the players worked out in helmets, shells, and shorts.  The team spent most of practice running 11-on-11 situations with no contact.

Tackle Oniel Cousins did not practice but was out on the field unlike this morning.  Cornerback Evan Oglesby also did not practice this afternoon.  There were no other real status changes from the players that missed the morning practice.  Tom Zbikowski was dressed to practice but was not very active during the workout.

1:45 p.m. — The NFL Network is currently replaying the “Music City Miracle” game between the Tennessee Titans and the Buffalo Bills, and it’s on in the hotel lobby.  Derrick Mason and Samari Rolle—members of the 1999 Titans—have both spent a few moments watching the game in the lobby.

You have to think both of them thought of their late teammate Steve McNair while catching a few moments of the classic playoff game.

1:41 p.m. — Some fans standing on the far upper field away from the bleachers got an up close and personal look at Derrick Mason.  When Flacco threw a fade to Mason in the back corner of the end zone, the receiver’s momentum carried him all the way into the crowd of people standing just beyond the yellow rope, causing a momentary scare.  Mason would prove to be fine on the play, but it was a close encounter for the fans nearby.

1:35 p.m. — Mark Clayton talked to reporters today and suggested his hamstring injury might take a little longer to heal than previously thought.  The Ravens’ No. 2 receiver said it could be another week or two until he’s back on the field.  With Clayton’s history of hamstring issues throughout his pro career, it would make sense for the Ravens to be extra cautious in the second week of training camp.

Suggs is still walking around the team hotel with a boot on his left foot, but the Ravens continue to show little concern.  After all, we’re talking about a guy who has never missed a game and earned two sacks with a badly-injured shoulder against the Steelers in the AFC Championship last season.  Also, keep in mind that Suggs earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season after missing all of training camp due to being designated the team’s franchise player.  He’s going to be fine.

12:24 p.m. — Left guard Ben Grubbs practiced this morning, but he continues to battle the same ankle injury that landed him on the PUP list at the start of training camp.  After coming out to practice, he was later seen talking to trainer Bill Tessendorf and then went back inside to the training room.  Grubbs later returned to practice.  In his absence, the Ravens shifted Chris Chester to left guard with Marshal Yanda playing right guard.

Tight end Edgar Jones was also shaken up early in practice but later returned to the field.

12:22 p.m. — New defensive back Chris Carr has a physical nature to his game despite his small stature (5-10, 180 pounds).  However, Carr tends to be overaggressive at times in the early stages of camp.  He was called for pass interference this morning and has been flagged several times in the first week.  While it’s certainly a plus to have a defensive back willing to get physical, but it has to come within the framework of the rules.

12:06 p.m. — Graham Gano and Steve Hauschka both looked good, though Hauschka missed a 49-yard attempt.  Hauschka was given the morning off yesterday.

Once again, this battle will come down to how each performs in the four preseason games.  Jerry Rosburg likes both kickers and thinks either one is capable of winning the job previously held by Matt Stover for the last 13 years.

11:54 a.m. — The Ravens spent a substantial amount of time working on their red zone packages this morning, with the first-team offense typically going against the second-team defense and the first-team D matching up against the second-team offense.

Joe Flacco hit Demetrius Williams on a slant for a touchdown, but the highlight of the session came from receiver Kelley Washington.  Matching up against Domonique Foxworth, Washington caught a fade route in the corner of the end zone from backup quarterback Troy Smith.  After bringing down the football, Washington broke into the Ray Lewis dance in celebration.  The move brought loud cheers from the Westminster crowd.

Willis McGahee and Ray Rice both looked strong running the ball with McGahee picking up 14 yards on a play off left tackle and Rice scoring from the 5-yard-line in a rep against the starting defense.  Rice appears to be the No. 1 back in most instances, but McGahee continues to get plenty of reps with the starting offense.

11:42 a.m. — Terrell Suggs (heel) and Mark Clayton (hamstring) once again missed practice, as both players are considered to be day-to-day with their respective injuries.  Antwan Barnes did not practice, so we have to wonder if he’s still feeling the effects of a mild concussion on Sunday morning, though he did practice on Monday.

Tom Zbikowski came up lame early on in practice and limped off with an apparent leg injury.  He spent most of the morning practice resting on a cart on the sideline.

L.J. Smith (hamstring) and Yamon Figurs (foot) returned to practice this morning.  Smith had missed action since tweaking his hamstring early last week, and Figurs was on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp.

Oniel Cousins was abent from practice this morning, but no reason was given.  I haven’t heard anything in terms of an injury dating back to yesterday, so it could just be a day off.

Others not practicing included Brendon Ayanbadejo (toe), Will Johnson, Davon Drew (ankle), and Lamar Divens.

11:28 a.m. — Coach John Harbaugh informed the media that Adam Terry would undergo another knee surgery and will miss the 2009 season.  Terry had previously been on the physically unable to perform list recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery surgery earlier this offseason.

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Live from Westminster: Yanda practices, Reed wearing red jersey (no contact)

Posted on 31 July 2009 by Luke Jones

7:09 p.m. — The Ravens will practice on Saturday at 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.  Both practices are open to the public.

5:45 p.m. — Domonique Foxworth had a nice play in the afternoon, breaking up a pass intended for Demetrius Williams.

Foxworth signed a huge contract to come to Baltimore, so the expectations are high for the fifth-year player.

5:40 p.m. — Defensive linemen Trevor Pryce and Will Johnson and receiver Marcus Smith did not practice this afternoon.  Pryce had his foot stepped on in the morning and was even carted off the field, but he should be back to practice as early as tomorrow.  Johnson has a right leg issue, and Smith sat out with cramps.

5:25 p.m. — Despite the rain delay, the Ravens did make it outside to the lower field for practice this afternoon.  Several hundred people hung around to watch the workout despite the terrible storm that came through Westminster in the 2 o’clock hour.

There were two major highlights in the afternoon.  The first was Dawan Landry swiping a Troy Smith pass and returning it for a touchdown.  He looks to be 100 percent healthy and has not shied away from contact in the early going.

The second occurred during punt return drills when Ray Rice broke free and was off to the races.  The second-year back figures to be mostly used at running back, but he definitely shows an ability in the return game should he be needed.

2:45 p.m. — I’m currently in the Best Western hotel waiting out a severe storm.  The team is currently conducting a walk-through and is hoping to go outside at 3:15 p.m if the weather improves.  The area is currently under a tornado watch.

2:20 p.m. — Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron spoke to reporters after practice and talked about the progress of Joe Flacco.  He said that Flacco simply needs to focus on the little things that will make him an elite quarterback.

Cameron went on to say that Flacco will be expected to do much more in his second year as starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens.

As far as any wrinkles in the playbook, the Ravens ran some plays out of the pistol formation, a shotgun look in which the running back lines up behind the quarterback.  The offense ran the option out of this formation a few times.

2:17 p.m. — In case you’re debating whether to come out to Westminster for the afternoon practice, it is currently pouring as I look out the window of the team hotel.  Looks like it will be a wet afternoon, but I’ll be out there giving you all the updates!

2:09 p.m. — Regarding Ed Reed, Harbaugh explained they do not want to take a chance with Reed’s shoulder and neck.

“Ed knows how to tackle.  He’ll pick his spots a little bit that way, but we want to be smart.”

2:06 p.m. — The coach’s best comments were about Terrell Suggs, who did not participate in Harbaugh’s first training camp last season.

“Yeah, ’55’ is in shock right now.  This is his first training camp in awhile, so he’s feeling his way around.  We’ve assigned a couple of veterans to ‘Sizzle’ to make sure he knows where to go and how to get there.”

Funny stuff from the Ravens head coach.

2:01 p.m. — Harbaugh was very impressed with the huge crowd in Westminster to watch the Ravens’ first full-squad workout.

“I don’t know how many [fans] were here, but the place is absolutely stuffed…Guys are excited about that.  It makes it fun to get out here.  We have great fans.  It’s been a good day so far.”

1:54 p.m. — Michael Oher was the starting right tackle with the first-team offense and was very impressive.  At 6-4 and 310 pounds, Oher is a menacing figure and manhandled defenders on several occasions.  His strength appeared to be run blocking, and he will need to improve his pass blocking technique, but that’s just an early observation after the morning practice.

Overall, you can easily see why the Ravens were so enamored with the rookie tackle.

1:21 p.m. — Just a couple injury updates to pass along to you.  As I reported on The Bob Haynie Show, Trevor Pryce was carted off the field, but it turned out he simply got stepped on, according to John Harbaugh.

L.J. Smith failed to practice again, still bothered by a hamstring tweak he sustained on Tuesday.

1:17 p.m. — It was good seeing Dawan Landry out on the field, going live.  His recovery from last season’s neck injury went well, but you just never know how the neck will respond until he starts going live again.  So far, so good.

With Reed not participating in any live contact, Haruki Nakamura lined up at free safety next to Landry in 11-on-11 live situations.

1:13 p.m. — Tavares Gooden looks to be in excellent condition and simply flies to the football.  He lined up as the starting inside linebacker next to Ray Lewis, and he definitely looks like he belongs.  In an early drill, he filled a hole and stood up Willis McGahee at the line of scrimmage.

If Gooden can play with discipline and not overpursue, he’ll be a youthful asset at the linebacker position.

1:10 p.m. — A battle at kicker is rarely an exciting story, but the showdown between Graham Gano and Steve Hauschka will be crucial this summer.  Gano has the early lead, as he was perfect on all of his attempts.  Hauschka struggled, missing two kicks.  Ravens officials tell me the real evaluation between the two kickers will take place during the team’s preseason games.

1:08 p.m. — Former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Al Saunders is here and has sat in on the Ravens’ team meetings.  It’s expected that Saunders will join the coaching staff as an offensive consultant.

It will be interesting to see how involved he is with the Ravens’ offensive game plan.

1:06 p.m. — Willis McGahee is off the PUP list and looks very strong.  One of the highlights of the morning was a collision between him and 350-pound defensive tackle Kelly Talavou.  The running back won the battle.

He and Ray Rice shared time with the first-team offense.

12:50 p.m. — Mark Clayton struggled today, dropping a couple passes and being called for pass interference, pushing off Frank Walker during 11-on-11’s.

Staying with the wide receivers, Justin Harper continues to impress, catching a touchdown pass from John Beck with Domonique Foxworth in coverage.

Freshly-signed wideout Biren Ealy made the catch of the day, snagging a one-handed catch with Lardarius Webb covering.

12:42 p.m. — Ray Lewis spoke to reporters after practice and has shed 15 pounds, wanting to be lighter to maintain speed.

He feels blessed to be in his 14th year with the Ravens and still feels a strong passion for the game.

The defensive line is very deep according to Lewis.  He’s happy to have Kelly Gregg back out there in front of him.

12:36 p.m. — The Ravens have completed their first full-squad practice this morning before a lively crowd at McDaniel College.  It was clear to see Ravens fans were waiting for the big names to arrive here in Westminster.

The big news of the morning was Marshal Yanda practicing.  There had been concerns that Yanda would not take part in training camp while still recovering from the severe knee injury sustained last season against Indianapolis.  Yanda did not participate in 11-on-11 live drills, but he practiced individually with his fellow offensive line mates.

Ed Reed practiced in a red jersey, signaling no contact for the All-Pro safety.  Considering Reed’s shoulder and neck issues dating back to last season, this is not an entirely surprising move.

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Key 2009 Ravens Positional Battles

Posted on 23 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

After free agency and the draft, the Ravens will enter training camp with many question marks at positions on both sides of the ball. These positional battles will go a long way in determining how much success they will have and if they can make a return trip to the playoffs.

Here are some of the key positional battles that will shape the Ravens roster:

 Backup Quarterback:

Smith vs Beck:

The fact that some people still want Troy Smith to be the starter because he can scramble is absolutely absurd. The Ravens think so highly of Smith’s ability that they brought in Miami Dolphins outcast John Beck to compete with him for the back up job.

Neither one will have a chance at starting baring a major injury to Flacco, but it should be a good battle to see who holds the clipboard. Personally, Troy Smith hasn’t shown me anything that indicates he is even a capable back up in the NFL. The fact that he can “scramble” means nothing, and won’t be the reason if he wins the job.

Much like Troy Smith, John Beck was given the starting job, but unlike Smith, Beck lost it because of his play not sickness. All that being said there has to be something about Beck that Cam Cameron and John Harbaugh like otherwise they would not have brought him in.

This battle is likely to go on throughout the duration of training camp and likely not to be decided until right before week 1. I could personally care less as to the who the backup is but I am leaning towards John Beck.

Man isn’t it nice that we don’t have to worry about these guys competing for the starting quarterback job?

 Kicker:

Gano vs “the Kid”:

Matt Stover was the only player that was on the roster since they moved to Cleveland and he has amassed a Hall of Fame career. The Ravens have parted ways with Stover but have made it known he is just a phone call away if they feel that they need him.

With Stover gone, the starting job will be up for grabs between Steven “the kid” Hauschka and Graham Gano.

Hauschka was the Ravens kicker last year for field goals of 50 yards and higher. He has a booming leg but lacks consistent accuracy. Hauscka did not have the college career that Gano had and I do not believe he has the talent either

Last season at Florida State, Gano won the Lou Groza Award and only missed two field goals, both from 50+ yards. In the NFL you need a kicker that can hit 50+ yard field goals but you also need one that can hit consistently from inside 40 yards. Gano has that advantage over Hauschka and but he also has shown in practice that he can hit long field goals.

Rookie kickers tend to struggle but 1st impressions of Gano lead me to think he has the makeup to succeed in year one.

Ultimately, I think his consistency and accuracy will win out and he will be the Ravens kicker for 2009 and many years to come.

 :Secondary:

Landry vs Zbikowski vs Nakamura :

There will be a major positional battle at the strong safety position alongside Ed Reed. Dawan Landry is coming off a major injury but has been awarded the starting safety position this coming into training camp.

There are still question marks about how Landry will respond from his injury and have to deal with Tom “Momma Said Knock You Out” Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura who the Ravens brass definitely like. Both Zbikowski and Nakamura got a lot playing time last season and should improve immensely in their second year.

Zbikowski and Nakamura are hard hitters and with another year of experience should be more versed in the cover game.

Many fans were unhappy with the Ravens parting ways with Jim Leonhard but Dawan Landry had better stats than Leonhard did before his injury so the guy can obviously play. Despite anything that has been said, it is likely that Landry will be a little “gun-shy” about making hard hits to protect his injury. Just look at Ed Reed for the first part of last season.

I think Landry has more talent then both Nakamura and Zbikowski but I believe they have improved enough to give Landry a battle for the starting position if his injury is not fully healed.

The Ravens also have another battle between Ladarius Webb and Samari Rolle for back up corner/ nickel position. Rolle is the incumbent but Webb seems to have all the tools to be a big time corner in this league. Ultimate, Rolle is on his last leg and Webb will win the job easily.

 

Wide Receiver:

Williams vs Washington vs Smith vs?:

The wide receiver position is an absolute mess for the Ravens after Derrick Mason announced his retirement. It is still likely Mason will return but if he doesn’t the Ravens are left with a bunch of un proven guy vying for 4 receiver spots.

Mark Clayton is the only garunteed starter as he will be the number 1 receiver without Mason or number 2 if Mason returns. Clayton has shown signs of brilliance and developed a rapport with Flacco in the second half of the year last year, but many question if he can be the “ go to “ guy for this offense.

Demetrius Williams is coming off an injury but may be the most talented receiver on the Ravens roster when healthy. Williams gives Flacco a big target and has the ability to stretch the field, but has major injury concerns. Right now Williams is penciled in as the number 2 but a bad training camp and poor health could bump him from that position.

After Williams and Clayton the Ravens are left with Kelly Washington, Marcus Smith, Ernie Wheelwright and Eron Riley.

Washington has NFL experience although he was never a major factor for the Bengals. Smith was injured for the majority of last season but he has good height, speed and a lot of upside. I like Smith but he missed pretty much the entire year last year which puts him behind the other three.

Eron Riley and Ernie Wheelwright are the long shots but if the the gap between them and Washington and Smith is not a huge one. Riley has blazing speed which makes him intriguing, and if he can develop as a route runner he may be an X factor. In the end I believe Riley and Wheelwright will be on the practice squad but you never know.

The Ravens receiving corps is a pot luck and even the coaching staff has no idea what will come of it. Mason could return or they could acquire another wide out or both.

Either way, the play of Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams will determine if the Ravens are Super Bowl bound or not.

Right Tackle:

Oher vs Terry:

This job is Michael Oher’s to lose, but if he fails to pick up the playbook quickly, he will lose it

These positional battles are what makes training camp fun and they will provide fans with a lot to argue about. Regardless of who wins them, the Ravens seem to have depth at every position and that will be a major strength for this team.

Personally I am going to enjoy watching these battle play out and see who is on the Ravens 60-man roster come Week 1.

The Ravens brass has soured on Terry and he has proved that he is not an adequate tackle in this league. The O-Line has depth and flexibility so Yanda could slide to tackle and Chester to guard if Oher is not ready and the Ravens don’t want to put Terry in.

Everything depends on Oher’s ability to pick up the playbook. Hopefully for the sake of the o- line he does it sooner than later.

Kick Returner:

Webb vs Carr:

Much to the delight of everyone the Yamon Figurs era in Baltimore looks to be over. With Figurs out of the picture and Jim Leohnard on the Jets, the Ravens now have a problem every team wants to have, too much talent at one position. Both Ladarius Webb and Chris Carr will be battling to see who wins the returner job and both have the big play ability the Special teams needs.

I have to give a slight edge to Carr given the fact that he already had success last season, but Webb has the speed and makeup to win the job. Both players look to give the Ravens a legitimate returner they have not since the departure of Jermaine Lewis.

Webb and Carr will help turn the once maligned special teams unit, into one of the best in the league. Fans don’t care who is returning kicks, as long as its not Yamon Figurs.

Positional battles like these are what makes training camp fun to watch. No matter who wins the Ravens fans should feel good about the depth this team has.

It will be interesting to watch these battles take shape and to see who is on the roster come September 13th.

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Looking ahead to training camp

Posted on 08 June 2009 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles in last place and owning the second-worst record in baseball, Baltimoreans are obviously looking ahead to the Ravens reporting for training camp on July 27—only seven weeks away.

The team holds another passing camp this week, as we continue to focus on several key positions.

As we look ahead to 2009, key departures include linebacker Bart Scott (New York Jets), center Jason Brown (St. Louis), safety Jim Leonhard (Jets), cornerback Chris McAlister (unsigned), offensive tackle Willie Anderson (retired), Lorenzo Neal (Raiders), tight end Dan Wilcox (unsigned) and defensive end Marques Douglas (Jets).

In addition to selecting six players in this year’s draft, the Ravens have added cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth (Atlanta) and Chris Carr (Tennessee), center Matt Birk (Minnesota), tight end L.J. Smith (Philadelphia), quarterback John Beck (Miami) and receiver Kelley Washington (New England).

With so many new veterans and rookies in the fold, training camp in Westminster, Md. figures to host several key positional battles as the Ravens prepare for their opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 13.

The following is a look at five key positional battles—in no particular order—to watch during training camp at McDaniel College.

1.  Inside Linebacker

The departure of Scott leaves a gaping hold next to Ray Lewis at the other inside linebacker position.  Scott did the dirty, physical work of taking on blockers, leaving the veteran Lewis free to pursue the ball carrier.  The younger Scott was also stronger in pass coverage than Lewis.

Second-year player Tavares Gooden looks like the safe bet for Scott’s replacement in the starting defense, but this may not be a foregone conclusion.

The 2008 third-round pick is a health risk after spending most of last season on injured reserve with a hip injury.  He also had a history of concussions and shoulder problems at the University of Miami.

At the team’s earlier minicamps, Gooden appeared bigger and faster, a good sign for coordinator Greg Mattison’s defense. He has reportedly been spending time at Lewis’ home, watching film and gaining wisdom from the 34-year-old linebacker.

If Gooden does not get the nod on the inside, another option could be second-year linebacker Jameel McClain.  The undrafted free agent from Syracuse emerged last year to grab a spot in training camp and worked his way up the depth chart, earning significant playing time as the season progressed.

McClain finished the season with 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks and was a strong contributor on special teams.  His biggest challenge will be adjusting to the inside after playing outside linebacker last season and defensive end in college.

Fifth-round draft pick Jason Phillips (TCU) is a gritty and physical linebacker, but he would be a long shot to grab the starting spot as a rookie.  The organization could also look to Brendon Ayanbadejo, but his value on special teams would be hard to sacrifice with other options at inside linebacker.

2.  Backup Quarterback

A quarterback controversy is brewing in the Charm City; only for once, it’s not over who will be starting under center—Joe Flacco has finally stabilized the position for the Ravens.  The real battle will take place between incumbent backup Troy Smith and newly-signed John Beck, a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007.

Smith found moderate success running the Ravens’ version of the Wildcat formation—the “Suggs” package—at times last season, but his size (6’0″) makes it difficult for him to spot receivers in the pocket, forcing him to move outside. The 6’2″ Beck is a more traditional drop back passer.

Beck has strong ties to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (Miami’s head coach in 2007) and would figure to have a strong grasp on the playbook, improving his chances to overtake Smith for the backup spot.

The Ravens will once again try to use Smith’s athleticism, so he figures to be the No. 2 quarterback (the No. 3 can only enter the game if the starter and backup are injured).  However, a long-term injury to Flacco might cause the coaching staff to play the more traditional quarterback Beck.

Smith oozes with confidence, but he failed to grab hold of the starting job last preseason before suffering a tonsil infection, opening the door for Flacco to become the team’s starter in his rookie season.  This factor might weigh on coach John Harbaugh’s mind as he decides who will back up the talented Flacco.

3.  Kick/Punt Returner

With the departure of Leonhard to the Jets, the Ravens must find a new punt returner and try to stabilize the kick return position.

Newly-signed defensive back Chris Carr had a good season with the Titans and would likely be the top candidate for the job.  He averaged 28.1 yards per kick return (fourth in the NFL) and 10.1 yards on punt returns.

If injuries in the secondary would force Carr into the starting lineup, several in-house candidates are presently on the roster.

Yamon Figurs began last season as the primary kick and punt returner, but it’s clear he is not a favorite of the current coaching staff.  Figurs appeared hesitant in returning kicks and struggles holding onto the ball at times.  He is currently recovering from foot surgery and will need to have a strong preseason to stay on the roster.

Rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb, a third-round pick, returned kicks at Nicholls St. and will compete for the job.

Tom Zbikowski returned kicks at the end of last season but did not provide much of an impact.

Sixth-round pick and rookie running back Cedric Peerman also returned kicks at the University of Virginia, but the team would figure to allow Peerman to focus his efforts competing at the running back position.

Carr would figure to have the upper hand, but strong training camp performances would certainly blur the competition a great deal.

4.  Kicker

For the first time in the history of the franchise, the Ravens are uncertain who will be their kicker on Opening Day.  Matt Stover was not re-signed but is on general manager Ozzie Newsome’s speed dial if the other options do not work out.  Harbaugh continues to speak with the veteran kicker regularly.

Steve Hauschka was the team’s kickoff specialist in 2008 and made one of two field goal attempts.  He has a big leg, but trying a long field goal before the half is quite different than kicking a game-winning 42-yarder when the pressure is on late in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens signed rookie free agent Graham Gano from Florida State to compete for the job. Gano won the Lou Groza Award in 2008, awarded to college football’s best kicker.  He made 24 of 26 attempts last season with the Seminoles, hitting five of seven from 50 or more yards.

While a battle at kicker isn’t going to capture the city’s attention, it is crucial to stabilize the position entering the season.  If neither Hauschka nor Gano can win the job in the preseason, look for Stover to return for his 14th season with the Ravens.

5.  Right Tackle

This position would have been the featured battle of training camp had veteran Willie Anderson not announced his retirement several weeks ago.

First-round pick (23rd overall) Michael Oher of Ole Miss is a tremendous talent at 6-5 and 309 pounds.  His story was well-chronicled prior to the draft, and the Ravens appeared to snatch up another highly-talented player in the later stages of the first round.

Oher has performed well in OTAs (Organized Team Activities) and has picked up the offense quickly, according to the coaching staff.

With veteran tackle Adam Terry continuing to battle an ankle injury, the job appears to be Oher’s to lose.  Terry would be the ideal backup for both Oher and left tackle Jared Gaither since he has experience playing both positions in the NFL.

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Purple Friday – Join me on WNST this afternoon

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Luke Jones

Join me on AM 1570 WNST or WNST.net this afternoon at 4:20 as we have an excuse to talk Ravens football despite the season still being months away.  What’s the biggest question on your mind as we approach the preseason?

It’s a far cry from a Purple Friday in the fall, but we’ll get a small tease of football this weekend as the Ravens begin their mandatory minicamp today at 1 Winning Drive.

The weekend is nothing more than an obligation for most veterans—with the exception of Terrell Suggs who is not expected to attend after again being named the team’s franchise player—but it’s the first chance for the rookies to rub elbows with the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Derrick Mason.  It’s always interesting to hear the veterans’ first impressions of the new draft picks and rookie free agents.

As we take the next step toward training camp in Westminster—now less than three months away—, several questions loom large as the Ravens try to improve upon coach John Harbaugh’s surprising first season.

Here are five questions on my mind as we approach the season, in no particular order.

1.  How is the depth at quarterback shaping up?

A quarterback controversy is brewing in the Charm City; only for once, it’s not over who will be starting under center—Joe Flacco has finally stabilized the position for the Ravens.  The real battle will take place between incumbent backup Troy Smith and newly-signed John Beck, a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007.

Smith found moderate success running the Ravens’ version of the “Wildcat” formation at times last season, but his size (6-0) makes it difficult to spot receivers, forcing him to move outside the pocket.  Beck has strong ties to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (Miami’s head coach in 2007) and, at 6-2, is a more traditional drop-back passer.

It will be interesting to see Flacco’s progression from his rookie season to year two—a time when many experts believe a quarterback makes his biggest improvement.  If Flacco can improve upon his 14 touchdowns and 2,971 yards from a year ago, the Ravens will be as deadly as any team in the AFC.

Keep in mind, Flacco will have a full training camp to prepare as the team’s starting quarterback, something he did not enjoy in his rookie season when he was launched into the starting role after Kyle Boller and Smith went down in late August.

2.  Is there another wide receiver out there?

Despite national pundits and fans clamoring for Ozzie Newsome to take a receiver in this year’s draft, the team did not find one to complement Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, and Demetrius Williams.

The Ravens signed rookie free agent Eron Riley, a speedster out of Duke, and will bring in veterans Jerry Porter, Kelley Washington, D.J. Hackett, and Tab Perry to try out this weekend.

Porter is the most notable of the four, playing his best seasons in 2004 (998 yards, 9 TD) and 2005 (942, 5 TD) with the Oakland Raiders.  However, his character is a question mark after being suspended in Oakland in 2006 for “conduct detrimental to the team.”  He is also a health risk after missing time with the Jaguars last season due to an injured hamstring.

Hackett may provide the next-best threat at receiver (13 catches with the Panthers in 2008) while Washington and Perry would provide a stronger presence on special teams, something sure to catch Harbaugh’s attention.

None of the four will provide the impact that Ravens fans are seeking, but one could step up to take the role of Demetrius Williams if the oft-injured receiver does not return to form in 2009.

3.  Who will be the Ravens’ next kicker?

For the first time in the history of the franchise, the Ravens are uncertain who will be the kicker on Opening Day.  Matt Stover was not re-signed but is on Ozzie Newsome’s speed dial if the other options do not work out.

Steve Hauschka was the team’s kickoff specialist in 2008 and made one of two field goal attempts.  He has a big leg but is largely unproven.

The Ravens signed rookie free agent Graham Gano from Florida State to compete for the job.  Gano was 24 of 26 last season with the Seminoles, hitting five of seven from 50+ yards.

While a battle at kicker isn’t going to capture the city’s attention, it is crucial to stabilize the position entering the season.  If neither Hauschka nor Gano can handle the job, look for Stover to return for his 14th season with the Ravens.

4.  Who starts inside next to Ray Lewis?

With the departure of Bart Scott, the Ravens need to fill his spot at inside linebacker.  Scott did the dirty work for the Ravens defense, taking on blockers to keep Lewis free to pursue the ball carrier.

Conventional wisdom points to Tavares Gooden as his replacement, but this may not be a foregone conclusion.  The 2008 third-round pick is a health risk after spending most of last season on injured reserve with a hip injury.  He also had a history of concussions and shoulder problems at the University of Miami.

If Gooden does not get the nod inside, the sleeper could be Jameel McClain or fifth-round pick Jason Phillips.

5.  Who will be returning kicks and punts?

With the departure of Leonhard, the Ravens must find a new punt returner and try to stabilize the kick returner position.  It’s clear Yamon Figurs is not a favorite of the current coaching staff and will need to have a strong preseason to stay on the roster.

Newly-acquired defensive back Chris Carr was a good returner for the Titans and would likely be a top candidate for the job.  Third-round pick Lardarius Webb also returned kicks at Nicholls St. and will compete for the job.

Tom Zbikowski spent time returning kicks at the end of last season, and sixth-round pick Cedric Peerman also returned kicks at the University of Virginia.

The position is wide open and should be an interesting one to monitor throughout the preseason.

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Ravens Add More Depth

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

The signing of John Beck is yet another great off-season move by Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens’ front office.  He presumably will be in open competition with Troy Smith for the backup quarterback slot.  Personally I don’t think Troy Smith will ever amount to more than a rushing threat from under center.  He is best used in limited situations such as the en vogue “wildcat” formation and should hope to have a Seneca Wallace type career in the NFL.

 

 

This move adds to the already impressive amount of depth the Ravens have been accumulating over the winter.  I think they learned their lesson from the past couple of years as injuries have really affected the team’s plans and in some ways their performance.  The only other position were I think the Ravens could add more depth would be receiver because if Derrick Mason hadn’t soldiered through his injury the Ravens would not have made it to the AFC Championship last year, and we have not as of yet improved that area.  Something tells me that Ozzie is probably working on that as I am writing this.

 

 

As for Beck he absolutely has promise, he was the 40th pick overall in 2007 and has 5 games of starting experience, albeit with a one win squad.  If my recollection serves me I think the Ravens were highly interested in Beck that year but the Dolphins grabbed him prior to the Ravens second round selection.  In any event I am certain the Ravens at least scouted him coming out of college because they seemingly scoured the globe in search of a quarterback prior to the arrival of Joe Flacco.  Of course Cam Cameron is familiar with Beck having been the Dolphins’ head coach when he was drafted, and it is almost a certainty he had a hand in bringing Beck to town.

 

 

I honestly feel Beck has the ability to develop as the number two guy with no pressure.  I could actually see him being a starter somewhere in the future.  The problem with Beck however, is that he is going to be 28 going into this season but doesn’t have the experience to match his age due to going on a Mormon Mission.  He started as a true freshman, at the ripe old age of 22, for BYU and he earned high praise during his senior season as he was a Davey O’Brien Award Finalist and was a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist as well.   

 

 

It all boils down to another great move by the astute minds in the Ravens’ front office.  In Oz we trust…. Go Ravens!

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