Tag Archive | "McDaniel College"

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Ravens looking to invite more fans to training camp

Posted on 23 March 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens haven’t held training camp at McDaniel College in five years, but the organization wants to bring the old Westminster feel to their Owings Mills facility in the coming summers.

Team president Dick Cass told reporters at the league meetings in Phoenix that the Ravens are exploring ways to accommodate more fans to attend training camp practices. The possibilities include buying land adjacent to the team’s training facility for additional parking.

After the Ravens accommodated a maximum of 500 fans at certain practices last summer, Cass told the team’s official website that they hope to bring 1,000 fans per day to camp workouts this summer and 3,000 spectators to individual practices by 2016, which would be more in line with the types of crowds they once saw in Westminster. The organization also plans to bring in more entertainment for fans at the training facility.

The Ravens held training camp in Westminster from 1996 through 2010, but the 2011 camp was moved to the training facility in Owings Mills due to the uncertainty that accompanied the offseason lockout. Baltimore officially decided a year later to keep summer workouts at their multimillion-dollar facility moving forward to better prepare for the regular season, but the move eliminated arguably the most intimate setting for fans to watch players and interact with them.

Cass said the Ravens will once again hold a training camp practice at M&T Bank Stadium this summer, which is currently slated for Aug. 3. It remains unclear whether they will hold another practice at the Naval Academy in Annapolis this summer.

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Ravens to rename practice facility Under Armour Performance Center

Posted on 08 June 2012 by WNST Staff

Baltimore, MD (June 8, 2012) – The Baltimore Ravens, who play at M&T Bank Stadium in Camden Yards, and Under Armour (NYSE: UA), the leader in performance apparel, footwear and accessories, whose global headquarters are located downtown at Locust Point, are joining forces in a wide-ranging collaboration that will feature multiple community-focused initiatives. The ten-year agreement also includes naming rights for the Ravens’ practice facility in Owings Mills, which will be renamed the Under Armour Performance Center.

These dynamic organizations are led by nationally-recognized business and civic leaders.  Both Steve Bisciotti, owner of the Baltimore Ravens, and Kevin Plank, the Founder, CEO and Chairman of Under Armour, have enjoyed tremendous success both in the United States and abroad.

“I love the Under Armour brand and am proud that it is Baltimore-based,” Bisciotti said. “They started with football wear that players wanted, and still do. They produce great products. Under Armour is the only partner for our training center. Their success has been off the charts, and this partnership will serve as a long-term platform that will showcase to the nation the best of what two of Baltimore’s strongest companies have to offer.

“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Steve and the Ravens over the years.  The Under Armour Performance Center is a facility that reflects our shared commitment to making all athletes better and to help the Ravens players excel on game-day,” said Plank. “We are even more excited that our partnership extends off-the-field, and will allow both of us to implement meaningful changes in the community.”

While both the Ravens and Under Armour have been active in improving the community, the two companies will combine to empower local youth and schools through football initiatives.  Specific youth football programs include the creation of annual grants, multiple clinics and statewide competitions.  Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and his assistants will play an active role in some of these programs, including a free Under Armour-sponsored clinic for over 400 Carroll County youth on June 16 at McDaniel College.

The creation of an annual 7-on-7 high school flag-football tournament, which already has attracted registration from 72 schools and more than 1,400 students for 2012, highlights the competitive elements of the agreement.

A visible component of the partnership is the renaming of the Ravens’ practice facility to the Under Armour Performance Center, which will host local and national media throughout the year and will showcase two of the city’s most successful corporate entities.

Under Armour recently announced the launch of a local community-based empowerment program, entitled “WIN Baltimore.” The platform is designed to spark positive social change throughout Baltimore and its surrounding neighborhoods by fueling the social, educational and physical advancement of the boys and girls who will serve as the future business and community leaders of the region.

The Ravens franchise, founded in 1996, won Super Bowl XXXV in January of 2001. The team has earned playoffs berths in five of the last six seasons, and they are the NFL’s only team to appear in the playoffs in each of the last four seasons – posting at least one victory in each of those postseasons. Long recognized for their community involvement, the Ravens’ mission is to win football games, serve their fans and be a positive force in the community.

About Under Armour, Inc.

Under Armour® (NYSE: UA) is a leading developer, marketer, and distributor of branded performance apparel, footwear, and accessories. The Company’s products are sold worldwide and worn by athletes at all levels, from youth to professional, on playing fields around the globe. The Under Armour global headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland, with European headquarters in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium, and additional offices in Denver, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Guangzhou, China. For further information, please visit the Company’s website at www.ua.com.

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Ravens announce plans for open training camp practices

Posted on 04 May 2012 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Baltimore Ravens’ 2012 training camp, connected by Verizon, will feature individual practices to be held at M&T Bank Stadium, the U.S. Naval Academy and Stevenson University. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Additionally, by entering a lottery on www.baltimoreravens.com, fans in limited numbers will have an opportunity to attend training camp at the team’s Owings Mills facility. The Ravens can safely host 200 people on the fields of their practice complex, and fans who are randomly chosen through the drawing will be invited to view approximately 14 of the team’s training camp sessions.

Further details regarding the lottery, its entry process and the Owings Mills practices will be announced on the team’s website in mid-June.

“It’s important for us to connect with as many of our fans as we can during training camp,” Ravens president Dick Cass said. “We know we can’t duplicate the fan experiences we had at McDaniel College, but these opportunities will give many people an opportunity to get up close and personal outside of our home games.”

M&T Bank Stadium is scheduled to host a training camp practice on Saturday, Aug. 4. The Ravens are then slated to practice at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 12. The team will round out its off-site training camp sessions at Stevenson University’s Mustang Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 19.

Venues will feature interactive fan events, including player autograph signings for children, fun-filled activities designed specifically for youth and cheerleader/mascot meet-and-greets. Times and specifics for each practice will be announced this summer.

Ravens 2012 Off-Site Training Camp Practices

Date Venue Location

Saturday, Aug. 4 M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore, Md.

Sunday, Aug. 12 Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Annapolis, Md.

Sunday, Aug. 19* Stevenson University Mustang Stadium Owings Mills, Md.

(All three practices are free for fans; times to be announced this summer; dates subject to change)

* Ticketed event that will be free for fans; details to be announced later

Summer Football Clinics

Head coach John Harbaugh and members of his coaching staff will host the Ravens Football Clinic, presented by Under Armour, for Carroll County youth and high school players at McDaniel College on Saturday, June 16. Approximately 450 participants are expected to attend the camp that will feature on-field drills, seminars and competitions for youth ranging from 6-18.

“Our staff is looking forward to the clinic,” Harbaugh stated. “We’ll teach some football, stress some life lessons and have fun.”

Additionally, on July 6-7, McDaniel College will host the Joe Flacco Passing Academy with Tyrod Taylor, and coaches Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell. The camp is designed for 100 invited high school players, all of whom will work with the Ravens’ quarterbacks and offensive coaches, in addition to several of the team’s wide receivers.

“We’re excited to build relationships with area high school kids and work to help them improve,” Flacco stated. “This gives us an opportunity to teach young players many of the things we go through each week during the season. We want this to be something they can take with them and utilize in the long haul. This extends beyond football, as we will focus on what it takes to be successful both on and off the field.”

Fans are welcome to watch the on-field activities at this camp. Times will be announced once they’re set.

McDaniel College’s Kenneth R. Gill Stadium

The Ravens have donated $100,000 to help complete the construction of McDaniel College’s new on-campus stadium. Named Kenneth R. Gill Stadium, the facility will be used by the Green Terror’s football, field hockey, lacrosse and track and field teams.

“Through the years, McDaniel College has been a terrific partner with us,” Cass said. “We’re happy we can help them with this important project.”

Construction began this past February, and the stadium is scheduled to open on Sept. 15, when McDaniel hosts Muhlenberg College in the football home opener. Funded solely by charitable gifts, the brick stadium’s facade will match the other buildings on campus and serve as the primary focal point along the college’s entranceway.

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McDaniel Names Mike Hoyt Football Coach

Posted on 05 March 2012 by WNST Staff

McDANIEL COLLEGE NAMES NEW HEAD FOOTBALL COACH

Mike Hoyt is the 24th Head Coach in the 117-Year Tradition of Green Terror Football

Hoyt formerly served as the associate head football coach and defensive coordinator, as well as director of strength and conditioning for the athletics program, at Albright College

WESTMINSTER, Md. – McDaniel College announces that Mike Hoyt has been named the new head football coach. He is the 24th head coach in the 117-year tradition of Green Terror football and will assume his duties at the college on March 19.

“After a nationwide search, Mike’s experience as an educator, coach and leader of young men separated him as the top candidate for our program. He embodies everything we wanted in our next head football coach,” said Athletic Director Paul Moyer. “Having coached in the Centennial and the Middle Atlantic Conferences, Mike brings with him an excellent understanding of the student-athlete, a strong knowledge of the top programs in the region, and relationships in recruiting areas where we have had great success. All of this qualifies him as a strong fit for McDaniel.”

Moyer added “I am pleased he will join our program in sufficient time to effectively manage spring practices and assist with recruitment of students interested in joining the McDaniel Program. I am confident he will be able to lead our program to a higher level, competing for championships in the tradition that is Green Terror football. ”

Hoyt comes to McDaniel after serving as the associate head football coach and defensive coordinator, as well as director of strength and conditioning for the athletics program, at Albright College in Reading, Pa. He was also responsible for recruiting in central Pennsylvania and northern counties in Maryland.

In 2011, he was named by the American Football Coaches Association as a finalist in the assistant coach of the year program. He was also one of 10 coaches nationally selected as part of the NCAA Champions Forum in 2010.

He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. Hoyt’s coaching career started at Onondaga Central School in Nedrow, N.Y., in 1992, before he moved on to Port Byron Central School in Port Byron, N.Y., in 1993.

He returned to his alma mater, NCAA Division I Canisius College, as a graduate assistant in 1994, spending two seasons as defensive line coach and assisting with the strength and conditioning program. In 1996, he became the defensive line coach and strength & conditioning coordinator at NCAA Division II Millersville University in Millersville, Pa. He then went on to join the coaching staff at Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Pa. where he served under legendary coach Tom Gilburg for four seasons.

In addition to his coaching duties, he taught high school health and physical education for more than five years at Solanco High School in Quarryville, Pa. (serving as head football coach in 1999 and 2000). He is certified as a teacher in Pennsylvania and New York, as well as a strength and conditioning specialist.

Hoyt said, “I am extremely excited and flattered with the opportunity that McDaniel has provided for me as the head football coach. McDaniel has a great academic reputation, outstanding facilities and a great football tradition.”

He added, “Everyone I have met at McDaniel from players and coaches to the administration and alumni have been outstanding. I look forward to working hand-in-hand with them to take the Green Terror football program to the next level.”

About the hiring of Hoyt, Dr. Roger Casey, president of McDaniel College, said, “With Paul Moyer’s leadership, Mike Hoyt’s appointment, and the new Kenneth Gill stadium, McDaniel is poised to write a new victorious chapter in our 117-year tradition of Green Terror football.”

McDaniel is scheduled to open the 2012 season at Catholic University on Saturday, September 1.

Hoyt’s Career Highlights at Albright College:

-In 2009, Albright advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals with a defense that was top 75 in Division III against the pass and 81st overall, allowing an average of 323.1 yards over the 13-game schedule.

-His 2008 defense led the conference and ranked 33rd nationally, allowing just 16.9 points per game and appeared in the ECAC South Central Bowl.

-In 2004, his first season with Albright, his rush defense went from allowing an average of 235.4 yards per game to 175.1 yards per contest and helped guide Albright to an ECAC South Atlantic championship.

-His tenure has been marked by stout run defense, ranking in the top half of the Middle Atlantic Conference in rush defense, total defense and scoring defense in four of the last five seasons.

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More Ravens Logos Going Up This Week Around Baltimore

Posted on 09 January 2012 by WNST Staff

Ravens Continue to Paint the Town Purple

While Baltimore Ravens players and coaches prepare for this Sunday’s Divisional Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium against Houston (1 p.m.), the rest of the Ravens organization will continue to paint the town purple – literally.

Tomorrow (Jan. 10) morning and afternoon, members of the Ravens’ grounds crew will visit the Best Western Hotel near McDaniel College and Towson’s Patriot Plaza to paint the team’s logo at each location. The group will be joined by Ravens front office staff, cheerleaders and team mascots to help celebrate the Ravens’ postseason push and hand out giveaways to fans who attend.

Late tomorrow night and into Wednesday morning, with the blessing of the Baltimore City and County governments, Ravens front office staff will continue to paint the town with black and purple spray chalk using a smaller stencil. On Wednesday morning, as Baltimoreans wake up, they will find the Ravens logo and the mantra “Relentless” at over 500 locations throughout the area. Locations will consist of high-trafficked areas, key destinations, hospitals, libraries and other businesses such as Hunt Valley Town Center, Westminster Town Mall, Aberdeen Town Hall, Cross Street Market and the Inner Harbor.

Fans will be able to purchase their own stencils through the Ravens store at Sports Legends Museum or at www.BaltimoreRavensStore.com, as well as all other exclusive playoff merchandise.

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Ray Lewis

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Ravens announce training camp to remain at Owings Mills facility

Posted on 02 December 2011 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Baltimore Ravens will continue to hold training camp at their Owings Mills training facility. For the first 15 years in the franchise’s history, camp was held in Westminster, Md. at McDaniel College. The Ravens’ 2011 training camp was held in Owings Mills.

“We’ve had long, serious discussions about this decision, and, when all is said and done, we believe we can better prepare for the season by holding training camp here as opposed to McDaniel College or any other facility away from here,” team president Dick Cass explained. “We wanted to let the officials at McDaniel and at the hotel (Best Western) know as soon as we made the decision.

“We owe much thanks to the leadership at McDaniel for their patience as we came to this decision and for all the outstanding help they have given the Ravens through the years. They have been a great partner, often going out of their way to make sure we could prepare our team at a high, high level,” Cass added.

(Before becoming McDaniel College, the school was known as Western Maryland College and hosted the then-Baltimore Colts for training camp from 1953 through 1971. The Colts trained at the Colorado School of Mines in 1972, at Towson State University in 1973, at McDonogh School in 1974 and then at Goucher College from 1975 to 1983.)

“In 1996, Westminster was the best place for us to have training camp,” general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome explained. “How teams conduct training camp today is vastly different. Our football needs and requirements are different. The absence of two-a-days, how much space we need for the players and the meetings, the limited number of practices allowed by the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement), the importance of having an indoor field when the summer storms come – all of that and more football-influenced factors, had me recommend to Steve (Bisciotti) and Dick that we hold camp here.”

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has mixed feelings about the move to Owings Mills. “From a football and team point of view, it’s an easy decision. Personally, this is difficult. Some of my best memories as a kid are my family’s visits to the Colts’ training camp in Westminster. Part of my devotion to the game and the players who made it great and are heroes to many of us, started on those visits.

“We completely understand that this takes away an important part of our connection with our fans. I regret that,” Bisciotti continued. “Hopefully, we can find other ways to continue this outreach. We’ll have more to say on this as we develop these programs.”

“We’ve discussed a variety of possible community interactions,” Cass added. “We are committed to having, at the minimum, three practices away from Owings Mills that would be open to the public with at least one of those at M&T Bank Stadium. We will have smaller groups of fans at practices here (at Owings Mills) and will have other community activities that include access to players and coaches. We want to do something in Westminster, and we are discussing some ideas. These will all have to fit into the first priority: getting the team ready for the regular season.

“This is not a financial decision,” Cass continued. “Because of our training camp sponsors and partners, we did not lose money going to Westminster.”

“We’ll miss having all those fans at practice,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It was fun having them so close and, at times, pushing the team to higher levels with the way they cheered and encouraged us.”

Cass and Newsome pointed out a number of issues that provoked the Ravens to make this decision:

· Facilities at the team’s Owings Mills facility are conducive to the best practices, especially in bad weather when the team can quickly move inside without losing the limited practice time. The team’s state-of-the-art weight room, conditioning machines and medical/training areas are significantly better.

· Ravens have outgrown the Best Western Hotel. “There aren’t enough rooms for our players, coaches and staff. Nor are there rooms for the individual position meetings that are an everyday part of football preparation,” Cass noted. (Each year the Ravens have added trailers to hold position meetings and use as office space for the staff.)

· Technology requirements, including computer and video, have changed dramatically in recent years. Capacity at the hotel is not compatible with team needs.

· The new CBA limits teams to one practice per day, and the efficiency provided in Owings Mills with meeting space, fields and video and IT operations allows the team to maximize the preparation for the season.

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Will the Ravens return to Westminster for training camp next year?

Posted on 30 November 2011 by WNST Audio

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Ravens Cancel Training Camp in Westminster

Posted on 22 June 2011 by WNST Staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RAVENS MOVE TRAINING CAMP

Because of the uncertainty as to when the NFL lockout will end, the Baltimore Ravens will move their 2011 training camp from McDaniel College to their year-round facility in Owings Mills.

Last summer, over 110,000 fans attended the open practice sessions at McDaniel, the Ravens’ training camp home since the franchise started in 1996.

“We’re disappointed we won’t be back at McDaniel and in Westminster this summer. We delayed the decision as long as we could,” Bob Eller, the Ravens’ vice president of operations, said. “There are logistics that needed to be addressed now, including McDaniel’s schedule, the hotel, the fields and other Ravens football functions. Right now, we don’t know dates for camp, and we’ve been forced to make other plans.

“One of the main issues we have is the time it takes to move our entire football operation to Westminster and then bring it back to Owings Mills. Those are days we can’t afford to lose as our team prepares for the season in what has become a condensed time period,” Eller explained.

The Ravens have spent all 15 of their training camps in Westminster. “We’ll miss being there, working with the college and the Best Western hotel. They have been very patient with us through this process,” Eller added. “We’ll also miss the interaction with the fans, which is a huge part of our camp experience.”

“We’ve appreciated the Ravens keeping us in the loop through this process,” Ethan Seidel, McDaniel College’s vice president of administration and finance, said. “We’ve had ongoing discussions internally and with the Ravens, knowing that the closer we got to a regular training camp start date, the less likely it would be logistically feasible to pull it off this year. We’re certainly not surprised by this and have been prepared for this scenario. When the NFL has its new agreement, we look forward to speaking with the Ravens about continuing our partnership with them.”

The Ravens’ lease agreement with Baltimore County does not allow for fans to attend practices in Owings Mills. “We don’t have the parking space for the fans, and the roads could not safely handle the type of crowds we attract,” team president Dick Cass explained.

Cass noted that the team has already begun discussions with McDaniel College to return to Westminster for future Ravens training camps. “We hope to have a full NFL season in 2011, but the current timing compelled us to make this decision. We waited as long as we could, but we’re beyond the dates when we could efficiently prepare for the move to McDaniel for a normal training camp start. We do fully anticipate, however, to be back at McDaniel next summer,” Cass said.

Once a new collective bargaining agreement between the franchises and the players is reached, the Ravens will announce practice schedules. “We will make every effort to have one or more practices at M&T Bank Stadium once we can determine our camp schedule. And, these sessions at M&T will be free and open to the general public,” Cass added.

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Ravens Training Camp: The impressive and disappointing

Posted on 20 August 2010 by Luke Jones

Another Westminster training camp has concluded with the Ravens now focusing their attention to the final three games of the preseason before the 2010 regular season gets underway against the New York Jets on Sept. 13.

Saturday night’s meeting with the Washington Redskins will be a key audition for  bubble players as coach John Harbaugh has already stated how important the second preseason game is for evaluating rookies and reserve veterans fighting for a roster spot.

Much will change before the initial cutdown to 75 players takes place on Aug. 31 and the final cut to 53 on Sept. 4, but here’s a breakdown of players—by position—who impressed and disappointed in Westminster.

QUARTERBACKS
Impressed: Joe Flacco is an easy choice after a strong camp with his new offensive weapons. The third-year quarterback still must prove he can read and throw to the middle of the field, but Anquan Boldin and a strong group of tight ends will certainly help.

Disappointed: Troy Smith knew his standing in the organization changed dramatically after the acquisition of Marc Bulger, and the former Heisman Trophy winner did nothing to push the veteran for the backup job. Smith lacks size and was too erratic in Westminster. He will stick as the No. 3 quarterback, but his performance made the Ravens look very wise for signing Bulger.

RUNNING BACKS
Impressed: Hard to go with anyone but Ray Rice at this spot despite Willis McGahee looking solid and healthy as well. Rice looked to be in mid-season form the first day veterans reported to Westminster. It will be another Pro Bowl season for the third-year back if he remains healthy.

Disappointed: Not his fault, but Matt Lawrence’s chance of making the 53-man roster continues to diminish as he remains on the physically unable to perform list. He is a capable special teams player when healthy, but this summer’s roster is too deep.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Impressed: Everyone assumed Mark Clayton would be cast aside in the offense when the Ravens acquired Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, but the former starter had a strong training camp, catching everything thrown his way. Stallworth was the logical choice as the No. 3 receiver, but Clayton received more reps in three-wide sets over the final two weeks of camp.

Disappointed: The Ravens loved what they saw out of David Reed during the OTA schedule, but the rookie failed to adjust to the quicker speed of training camp. Considered a sure-handed receiver coming out of Utah, Reed dropped countless passes and was not been given much of a look as a kick returner. Demetrius Williams is clearly ahead of Reed in the battle for the fifth receiver spot.

TIGHT ENDS
Impressed: Ed Dickson looked more like an established—not to mention explosive—veteran than a rookie on the upper fields at McDaniel College. The 6-foot-4 Dickson has tremendous size and great speed for a tight end. His versatility will be a welcome addition when the Ravens use him in two-tight end sets and at H-back on occasion. On a side note, Todd Heap had an excellent camp, showing he’s still capable of producing when healthy.

Disappointed: Already facing an uphill battle to make the roster after the drafting of Dickson and Dennis Pitta, Davon Drew was not able to stay on the field this summer. Drew showed more consistency than he did last season as a rookie, but it’s difficult to make the team when you’re never on the field. He’ll need to get healthy and make an impact in the remaining preseason games.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Impressed: Fellow guard Ben Grubbs earns more notoriety, but Marshal Yanda was ferocious in Westminster, proving he’s all the way back from the horrific knee injury he suffered two seasons ago. Yanda anchored and stood up Terrence Cody during a 1-on-1 drill in one of the highlights of the summer, just a couple plays after the 350-pounder had blown up the highly-regarded Grubbs.

Disappointed: Showing up 30 pounds lighter without the coaching staff’s approval and injuring his back on the first day of full-team workouts made Jared Gaither a slam-dunk choice. Not only are there concerns whether he’ll be ready by Week 1, but he’s missed valuable time to adjust to the right tackle position.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Impressed: He got off to a slow start while adjusting to playing with the 15 extra pounds he gained in the offseason, but Paul Kruger became a force on the defensive line, off the edge and even sliding to the inside in the nickel package. If Kruger can replicate what he showed in Westminster over the last two weeks, the Ravens will have another factor in the pass rush.

Disappointed: None. This is the deepest unit on the team. The only disappointment on the defensive line is the reality that the organization will have to cut a couple of talented players due to numbers.

LINEBACKERS
Impressed: His performance in the Carolina game aside, Jameel McClain was the biggest surprise of camp over the first three weeks, working at inside linebacker with the first defense. McClain played the run well and showed competence in pass coverage, but it did not carry over against the Panthers in the preseason opener. The competition for the starting job next to Ray Lewis is still wide open. Antwan Barnes earns an honorable mention.

Disappointed: The likely favorite to win the second inside linebacker spot prior to camp, Dannell Ellerbe came to Westminster out of shape and trailed McClain and Tavares Gooden for much of the way. Ellerbe improved his standing as the weeks progressed, but it was apparent how unhappy the coaching staff was as Ellerbe worked with the second defense in Westminster.

CORNERBACKS
Impressed: Expected to be brought back slowly, Fabian Washington provided a much-needed lift to the secondary when he returned to the field during the first week of camp. Washington appeared quick and made more plays as the weeks progressed. He will see his first game action against the Redskins on Saturday night and will be relied upon to be the team’s top corner, even if he’s nowhere near a true No. 1.

Disappointed: The injury to Domonique Foxworth is most appropriate here, but the brief eight-day stint of Walt Harris takes the cake in this department. He was unable to show he had anything left in the tank despite a solid career. And it’s tough labeling the likes of Doug Dutch and Chris Hawkins as disappointments if you never had any expectations to begin with.

SAFETY
Impressed: While no one compares to Ed Reed, Tom Zbikowski eased concerns at the position with a very strong showing in Westminster. Zbikowski is faster and showed a strong nose for the football this summer after doing an adequate job in Reed’s place for four games last season. Despite not knowing the status of its future Hall of Famer, this unit of safeties looks very sound with Zbikowski and Dawan Landry anchoring the secondary.

Disappointed: Though labeling him a disappointment is bit strong, Ken Hamlin has done little to challenge Zbikowski for the free safety position, partly because the latter was excellent in practice. Hamlin was solid, but unspectacular, running with the second defense. The former Cowboy has great size (6-foot-2) but needs to show a stronger special teams presence to stick around when Reed returns to the field.

SPECIALISTS
Impressed: Yes, he’s younger, cheaper, and healthier, but the Ravens clearly loved what they saw from Morgan Cox to have jettisoned veteran Matt Katula two days after the preseason opener. Fans can only hope we won’t hear his name again all season.

Disappointed: Though he’s kicked reasonably well, the Ravens certainly wished Shayne Graham had seized early control of the competition with Billy Cundiff. Until the final two days of camp, Cundiff had outperformed the former Bengal by a slight margin. Graham struggled with field goals outside 45 yards in Westminster but kicked better during the practice at M&T Bank Stadium. The smart money is still on Graham to be the kicker, but the battle has been closer than most people thought.

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Optimistic Ravens exit Westminster as stakes begin to grow

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Luke Jones

Optimism percolated from every route leading to Westminster as the masses flooded to McDaniel College over the last four weeks to take a glimpse at a team with its sights set on a date in Dallas on the first Sunday in February.

The Ravens set an all-time training camp attendance record of 112,051 despite a new kid-friendly autograph policy that many thought would temper the masses.

Even with the uncertain status of Ed Reed and the unfortunate losses of rookie Sergio Kindle and Domonique Foxworth, the Ravens have practiced with a swagger indicative of a team fully expecting to be playing deep into January or—with some good fortune—even later. A workmanlike demeanor from third-year coach John Harbaugh has muzzled some of the flamboyant comments uttered by players in past anticipated seasons, but the goal is clear, even under the hot sun of Westminster.

“[Camp has] just been tremendous,” Harbaugh said. “First of all, we’ve gotten a lot of work done. Our guys have worked really hard, and it’s a grind. Football training camp is hard work.”

Despite injury concerns in the secondary (Reed and Lardarius Webb) and offensive line (Jared Gaither), the Ravens managed to avoid any more catastrophic injuries after the deflating loss of Foxworth on July 29.

Breaking camp marks the next step in the quest for a Super Bowl, but the stakes rise much higher from this point forward. Optimism and good vibes are easily found in the secluded confines of an NFL training camp.

Despite the open nature of practices in Westminster, coaches and players work within a cocoon of order. Distractions are at a minimum as players live with curfews and are away from everyday responsibilities related to family and friends.

It was football and only football for four taxing weeks, but players return to a sense of normalcy on Friday.

Now, Joe Flacco and a much-improved offense—on paper anyway—have three more preseason games to fine-tune their work to determine if the vision of becoming an elite unit comes to fruition.

As much as we analyze every play and every day of the summer, picking on cornerbacks like Doug Dutch and Chris Hawkins shows little in terms of how explosive the Baltimore offense will ultimately be. The pressure gets that much heavier, even if the workload of practice decreases.

An unsettling situation at the right tackle position might derail that optimism as quickly as Ray Rice can take it 83 yards to the end zone. The physical and mental health of Gaither is critical with unproven players in Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll—who have also been hindered with injuries—waiting behind him.

An even shakier atmosphere exists with the defense, a perennial top-5 unit in the NFL for over a decade. Even before the loss of Foxworth due to a torn ACL, the Ravens were light on quality at cornerback and occasionally-promising showings from the likes of Travis Fisher, Cary Williams, and Prince Miller in Westminster will not get it done against the Cincinnatis and New Englands of the world.

Fabian Washington has progressed nicely in his recovery from a torn ACL last season and will see his first game action against the Washington Redskins on Saturday. Chris Carr, the nickelback a season ago, will be relied upon to hold down the other starting spot as Webb will presumably be getting back to the practice field in the coming days.

And, oh yeah, the six-time All-Pro Reed still has no timetable for a return despite making progress in rehabbing his surgically-repaired hip. Tom Zbikowski has competently held his spot at free safety with the Ravens showing cautious optimism that Reed might be able to play Week 1. However, only the enigmatic safety really knows when he will be ready.

“We feel like the guys that we have are going to be able to go in there and get the job done,” said Carr, who reminded reporters the Ravens finished with the eighth-ranked pass defense last season despite late-season injuries. “We feel like we’re experienced, and we have a lot of potential to get better. We feel like we can do a lot of things back there.”

Easy feelings to have within the sheltered atmosphere of Westminster, but Ozzie Newsome knows better. The front office clearly wants—and needs—to upgrade the cornerback position, even if  it’s only a quality third or fourth defensive back from another team.

The most critical component to enhancing the suspect pass defense is improving the pass rush, as the Ravens produced their second lowest sack total (32) in franchise history in 2009.

Despite the absence of the rookie Kindle, Antwan Barnes and Paul Kruger have impressed in that area, both in camp and against the Carolina Panthers last Thursday. The emergence of these two coupled with a healthy and motivated Terrell Suggs might just mask a weaker secondary.

However, we’ve seen strong preseason performances from countless young players in years past—Barnes being one of them—only to see them forgotten by mid-September.

When the Ravens put Westminster in the rear-view mirror on Friday, they leave training camp behind and return to the cozy confines in Owings Mills, but the summer sun rapidly transforms to the white-hot expectations created—locally and nationally—over the last seven months.

“Hopefully, we’re the best football team we can be coming out of this training camp at this time, but we still have work to do,” Harbaugh said. “Next week we’ll be right into training camp again, and it’ll be one-a-days, more of an in-season type schedule, but we’ll still be in camp as far as we’re concerned.”

Cutdown dates loom for players trying to secure a roster spot, the clock ticks on whether Newsome can find another piece to enhance the secondary, and the New York Jets and Monday Night Football await in less than four weeks.

Thankful players say goodbye to the team hotel in Westminster and return to their own beds on Friday, but with that come the more restless nights as a season of lofty expectations quickly approaches.

Training camp is in the books.

From here on out, it gets a little more real.

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