Friday, March 28, 2008

Tall tales at 1 Winning Drive

There’s a tale floating around in Owings Mills about the Ravens’ scouts and coaches while preparing for the 2000 draft. You may recall that the Ravens selected Chris Redman that year in the third round. Phil Savage was a big fan of Redman’s while some of the other scouts were just a little better than lukewarm on Redman.

Then offensive coordinator/quarterback’s coach Matt Cavanaugh was asked about his thoughts on Redman. While he admitted to liking Redman, Cavanaugh preferred a kid from Michigan. That kid was none other than Tom Brady who as you now are well aware, was selected in the sixth round by the Patriots.

The buzz at One Winning Drive…The palace is filled with Ravens’ personnel brimming with enthusiasm over the new coaching staff. Word is that about 85% of the team’s roster has been working out rather diligently and the new conditioning coaches are fostering a more rugged gym atmosphere than in recent years past…We’ve all heard the rumors about a coaching staff split down the middle under Brian Billick. A not so well kept secret during the Billick Administration was the discord between the offensive and defensive coaching staffs. Apparently under John Harbaugh that is no longer the case. Rex Ryan is said to be pretty jazzed about Cam Cameron’s offense and make no mistake about it, this is Cameron’s offense...

Cameron is a big proponent of fielding the best eleven players. If that means more two tight end sets, more three wide receiver sets and very little use of the fullback, Cameron will go with the personnel combo that gives the Ravens the best chance of scoring…Speaking of which, look out for Willis McGahee under Cameron. He could go deep into double digit scores and more than likely Cameron will do away with the borderline insanity of consistently pulling McGahee on third down…Cameron and quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson are said to be pretty impressed with Troy Smith. While that might not be enough to earn Smith the No. 1 job, there has been some talk that the Ravens could develop certain packages to successfully employ Smith’s skills and such packages could be implemented into certain game plans to exploit opponents’ weaknesses and tendencies…Bart Scott is in a contract year; 2008 is Ray Lewis’ last year under his current agreement and it’s possible that Terrell Suggs could be a franchise tag candidate again. That could leave a gaping hole in the Ravens' defense in 2009. It will be interesting to see how the team handles those three players going forward.

It looks like the center position will be Chris Chester’s to lose. Many feel that Chester lacks the girth to hold his position at the point of attack and pockets are likely to collapse quickly under the weight of an interior blitz. Defenders of Chester point towards his athleticism and relative inexperience at the position. He played sparingly as an offensive lineman at Oklahoma and has bounced back and forth between center and guard as a pro. Commitment to one position could help Chester improve as a technician and that will go a long way towards offsetting his size deficiencies…Jared Gaither is said to be working hard to develop strength and bulk in his trunk and legs. Ravens officials believe that Gaither would be a second round pick if he had remained at Maryland and was in the 2008 pool of draft eligible players…An up and comer on many draft boards is offensive lineman Branden Albert from Virginia. Albert has great size and is an outstanding athlete with tons of upside. At this point he looks like a first round lock yet a reach for the Ravens at No. 8.