Monday, July 30, 2007

RAVENS TRAINING CAMP UPDATE

July 30, 2007, Morning Session
The Ravens opened Summer Camp 2007 this morning under hazy conditions which helped to keep temperatures tolerable. Two things that were immediately different and noticeable: the practice location and the color of the teams’ jerseys.

Due to damp conditions on the upper field, the team practiced on the stadium field where they found the familiar momentum turf like that at M&T Bank Stadium. The field was a bit crowded and to a certain degree it limited what all units could do during their respective breakouts.

Whether it’s a permanent thing or not, the offense and defense changed jersey colors. The defense donned the purple previously synonymous with the offense.

The practice was scheduled for 8:15 although most of the team warmed up before the clock struck 8. Their collective approach was workmanlike and efficient and it led to what Brian Billick described as a “crisp” practice.

The practice was devoid of drama with everyone in camp and ready to go save for the growing P.U.P. list with its probable new members observing in shorts (Justin Green, Mike Smith and Dan Cody). Jonathan Ogden was not in attendance.

Cody, sporting black shorts and a black t-shirt seemed to be slightly favoring his right knee which was bandaged as he watched the defensive unit work out.

Although Brian Billick described the practice as crisp, it was hardly exciting for the few thousand who attended. The offense ran through a balanced mix of run and pass, most of the later being the controlled short passing game. Probably the highlight of the day was provided by Prescott Burgess who delivered a jarring hit to Willis McGahee who coughed up the football prior to hitting the turf.

It’s a bit difficult to steer the full team drills that aren’t labeled “live.” One player’s less than full speed is different than the next. The rookie Burgess’ eagerness to impress certainly had something to do with what the vets would describe as a bit of overzealousness.

Many sets of eyes were planted on Jared Gaither. The towering tackle looks very agile for a man of his size and given the steep learning curve that he’s just begun to take on, he held up well today. Terrell Suggs admitted to being impressed and speedy rookie pass rusher Antwan Barnes found the going tough against Gaither as the former Terp’s reach and punch neutralized Barnes during a couple of plays.

The one on one drills are often exciting for the fans but even the electricity that normally accompanies such exercises was absent from this morning's practice. For a recap on one-on-ones, 7 on 7's, 11 on 11's and other observations click HERE
July 30, 2007 Afternoon Practice
The conditions were a bit less comfortable during the afternoon practice session which started at 4:00 PM and finished at 5:30 PM. The team wore their shells and shorts and for the first half of the practice they focused on individual drills designed to improve and sharpen the skill sets required most by their respective positions.

As was the case in the morning session, the majority of the team was already limbering up well before the opening horn sounded. Evan Oglesby and Derrick Martin spent time with the pitching machine, both dancing in place in a manner reminiscent of Muhammad Ali as they fielded fastballs from the machine. D-line Coach Clarence Brooks ribbed both players saying that they couldn’t catch. Later on in practice, Oglesby would prove Brooks right.

The afternoon crowd by my estimate was about 1,500 strong and they were energetic despite the heat and humidity. "HEAP" was chanted often prompting Daniel Wilcox to mutter jokingly to teammates that he should change his name to one that might be chanted more readily.

During some passing drills Brian Billick and Rick Neuheisel coached up the receivers while stressing proper spacing to allow the quarterbacks an ample window to lead receivers properly. Comeback routes were run frequently as Coach Mike Johnson encouraged his unit to “run through it” on the comeback.

Other observations…Kyle Boller flat out rips his intermediate throws. Routes that require 15 to 20 yards particularly from the hash marks in were delivered as accurate lasers to their intended targets this afternoon…McNair’s arm seems to have much more life and zip in it than at this time last season. While his arm still can’t match Boller’s pound for pound, the veteran’s passes are tighter and he’s hitting the receivers on intermediate routes and deep routes in stride more regularly…Sam Koch was flat out crushing some punts this afternoon hitting majestic spirals that carried 50, 52 and 60 yards from the line of scrimmage. He also hit a soaring bomb from the opponent’s 40 yard line to gunner Evan Oglesby who sat down at the one foot line and then dropped the punt, watching it bounce into the front left pylon…Camp backup punter Brendan Carney is simply just another leg in camp. His wobbly punts were flat and averaged 44 yards…Punt returners B.J. Sams, Yamon Figurs and Cory Ross all fielded their chances cleanly. After practice Sams and Figurs were seen catching punts from the pitching machine one handed while cradling another football in the opposite hand.

As players walked off the field, Chris McAlister spotted former Raven Bennie Thompson and kidded Thompson that the buzzards circling overhead were there for him…Jonathan Ogden was seen in a t-shirt and shorts exiting the McDaniel College gym after practice…As mentioned this morning the Ravens offense wore white today. I jokingly said to Rick Neuheisel that he bargained for white to keep his unit cooler. He jested, “You got that right!” As he walked away, he explained that since the team opened on the road, the starting QB got to choose which color jersey the offense would wear in camp…Mark Clayton sat out the PM practice. Mike Johnson explained that he tore a finger nail in the morning session and he didn’t want to aggravate it in the PM. He’s expected back tomorrow.

More from the PM Session HERE

1 comments :

Rashad Gray's Blog said...

FESTIVUS MAXIMUS II: THE BEGINNING

Premieres July 30, 2007 at a McDaniel College near you!!