Sunday, August 02, 2009

Camp Notes for August 1 ~ Morning Session

Saturday’s morning session could have lulled a sleep deprived visitor to Westminster into a long summer nap. It started slow and lacked energy but in retrospect, it proved to be the calm before the storm.

When the team set up for live scrimmaging, the energy levels soared as did the intensity of the play on the field.

The second team defense was matched against the first team offense and on the very first play Ray Rice scooted around the right edge following a crushing block by Michael Oher who collapsed the defensive left side. Rice turned the corner and reeled off a run of over 20 yards before being forced out by Fabian Washington.

On the very next play, Willis McGahee knifed through the line behind Chris Chester and Oher for a 9 yard gain. Oher stood up fellow rookie Paul Kruger on the play. McGahee followed that play with a 5 yard run between Matt Birk and Chester.

Rice got the call on a simulated third and four play and ran behind Ben Grubbs and Jared Gaither on the left side for 8 yards and a first down.

This was the pattern early during live scrimmaging – the first and second team offensive lines executing very well, save for a McGahee run that ended abruptly when Dannell Ellerbee darted through the line to drop No. 23 after just a 1 yard gain.

In the following sequence with Troy Smith at the controls of the second team offense, Smith hit fellow namesake Marcus Smith on a deep pass down the sideline. Marcus adjusted to the throw nicely to haul it in despite the physical coverage by Frank Walker. The officials ruled that Smith was guilty of offensive pass interference. The side judge is in training as well – the call was wrong and if anything Walker was guilty of the infraction.

Marcus Smith is an interesting player to watch during camp. He seems to find ways to get open but has struggled to hang on to the football. He has blocked well in support of the run and he’s also a solid special teams player. But strictly as a receiver, Justin Harper is outplaying him. He flat out has dropped too many balls.

On Saturday Troy Smith rolled left on a designed roll out and delivered a strike to Smith on a comeback route down the left sideline. Domonique Foxworth had tight coverage but Smith had a chance to make a play. He didn’t and it prompted Cam Cameron to bark, “Come on Marcus, make that play!” As if to give Smith a chance to redeem himself, the Smith combination was called upon again on the very next play. Running a crossing route from left to right, Troy hit Marcus in stride. Unfortunately Marcus deposited the ball on to the turf once again.

OTHER NOTES & OBSERVATIONS: Cedric Peerman earned the praises of his coaches for attacking the line of scrimmage…RB Coach Wilbert Montgomery was heard grumbling on the sidelines following a Matt Lawrence run which was stopped short of a first down. “Running backs cannot come out of the huddle and not know where the first down markers are.”…Ed Reed made a nice play in Cover 2 support when Demetrius Williams got by Foxworth on a stop and go route down the left side. Flacco made an excellent throw but Reed arrived with the ball to break up the play. The Flacco to DWill tandem connected later in practice on a 40 yard play over Foxworth…John Beck for the second consecutive day was accurate with his throws in short tight spaces…

Early on in practice the offense had their way with the Ravens’ defense prompting Hue Jackson to rib Ray Lewis, “Not saying much today Ray!” Shortly thereafter, the defense took over and dominated…The deep pass was featured regularly late in practice with mixed results. Flacco was intercepted by Dawan Landry with no receiver in the neighborhood. Landry got Flacco once again a short time later after a poorly thrown screen pass that overshot its target (Ray Rice)…Troy Smith was picked off by Haruki Nakamura who returned the INT for 30+ yards. Smith knocked Nakamura out of bounds in frustration prompting the second year safety to toss the ball in Smith’s direction. Antwan Barnes got in Smith’s face after his unnecessary hit on a former high school teammate…

Fabian Washington struggled last year holding on to near interceptions. On Saturday he experienced a bit of déjà vu, dropping another INT that probably goes for a score if he hangs on. To make matters worse, Reed was just behind Washington waiting for the ball. Reed would have scored as well. Washington was seen after practice working with the pitching machine to hone his catching skills. He’ll need to go back to the machine a few more times, particularly after watching him completely whiff on one throw.

The battle between kickers Graham Gano and Steve Hauschka is close. While the later has been assigned to the first team field goal unit, Gano has the early edge and is noticeably stronger than Hauschka off the tee. Each kicker attempted field goals from approximately 32, 39, 44 and 48 yards. Hauschka missed his 48 yard attempt while Gano was wide left on his 39 yarder. Terrell Suggs stood under one of the uprights alongside an official signaling good or no good with each of the kicks to the amusement of the fans on hand.
Photo by Sabina Moran