Friday, August 10, 2007

INSIDE THE RAVENS' DEFENSIVE HUDDLE...With Gerome Sapp


TL: Week 1 of camp has concluded...your general thoughts on the structure of this year's camp as compared to previous summer camps with the Ravens under Brian Billick...

GS: Coach Billick is amazing at taking care of us. You can tell that by the way he has laid out the camp and how he takes care of us on the go. He’s able to make quick changes considering the weather and other outside factors which we appreciate. I would say compared to last year it is the same format but he’s changed small things to cater to us and what we really like is he doesn’t waste any of our time.

TL: You look like you've put on some added muscle mass and weight yet it doesn't seem to be inhibiting your speed and quickness. What did you do differently this offseason to prepare for the 2007 season?

GS: I tend to travel a lot during my off-season so when I work out with the teams I will usually get 2 out 4 days with the them and then I’m in Indy (my off-season home) working out 4 days week. There comes a time in any professional athlete’s career that you need to start working on interpersonal issues and focusing on your own needs so I make sure and address those issues during the off-season. This past one I spent a lot of time working on my own stuff like lower body strength like my glutes and my hamstrings.

TL: You are seeing more reps on the field with the first unit in certain sub-packages. Talk about your expanded responsibilities and what assignments might you assume that once belonged to AD.

GS: Losing AD was kind of a bad thing and a good thing for all of us. He was a fabulous athlete and so good at what he did but now it has opened up a lot of doors for our defense and for me. I’m one of the heaviest safeties but I’m able to move quickly so I can play close to the line because of my size but I can also play back and cover.

You know I like playing with the first team and learning those different packages with the Ones. It helps being out there. I see it as a win/win situation.

TL: It looks as though Rex Ryan is using the safety blitz off the right edge a bit more in camp and the success of that particular blitz has been almost perfect. What keys are you looking for when creeping up to that right edge just prior to the snap?

GS: You are looking for a couple things. First of all you are looking for cadence. You don’t want to be off sides and you don’t want to be late and you certainly don’t want to tip your hand. It just takes repetition to get the feel for the cadence. Second, you watch the receivers. If a WR goes in motion – you know it’s about time or if you see the QB is in motion depending on how many times he lifts his leg you know it’s about time. Finally, you have to work on your angles which will depend on if it is a run or a pass. Coach Mark Carrier teaches us some good drills to adapt to all of this.

TL: Beyond you, Ed Reed and Dawan Landry there really isn't any depth at safety. Who are some of the young guys that could possibly fill in if needed?

GS: We’re looking at [Bobby] Blackshire and [Jamaine] Winborne. I think Winborne should be the next to go in if one of us gets injured and Bobby is still learning and will come along when he needs to. I think four safeties is a good number.

TL: The Ravens really haven't had a clear No. 4 receiver. Devard Darling, Clarence Moore and Yamon Figurs are all in the mix for that job. You have to cover these guys at times. Give us a brief recap from a defender's position on each.

GS:

· Devard Darling, well you have to imagine that he’s one of the biggest and strongest receivers ever. He’s not afraid to come in and get his hands dirty. He’s getting better at the passing game too.

· Clarence Moore, you definitely have to get your body in position to cover him. You have to play the ball and body him up.

· Yamon Figurs, He’s a fast guy and that makes him very dangerous.

TL: Todd Heap looks as good as ever. Dan Wilcox seems to find the soft spots in coverages and has a knack for getting open. Why are they both so effective?

GS: They both have a good concept of what their roles are. Since they are both receiving TE’s, when asked to do that they can very easily. They are both skilled athletes and can get a defender going one way very easily. They are just using their God-given abilities.

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