Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Key Camp Battles heat up

Key Camp Battles

Tavares Gooden v. Jameel McClain: Gooden has the inside track on the inside linebacker position vacated by Bart Scott. It’s his job to lose at this early point. McClain seems much more comfortable off the edge and at times has been very explosive as a blitzing OLB. He could be more of a situational player much like Adalius Thomas early in the former Ravens’ career. McClain has improved as a pass defender.

Ray Rice v. Willis McGahee: Rice continues to run with the first team although McGahee gets a fair number of snaps with the No. 1 offensive unit. Both look very good and the competition is a very healthy thing for the Ravens offense. So far this battle could not be going any better and looks like a dead heat so far although Rice is a more dangerous weapon as a receiver than McGahee.

Graham Gano v. Steve Hauschka: Both kickers have competed well but give the edge overall to Gano. He’s been slightly more consistent on field goal attempts and measurably better off the tee.

Marcus Smith v. Justin Harper: The coaching staff loves Smith’s toughness and special teams abilities but Harper has been the better receiver so far during camp. He needs to be more consistent but generally he makes more plays than Smith and while his hands can’t be defined as “sure” they are better than Smith’s. The winner of this battle will be the team’s No. 5 receiver and usually that means special teams contributions will weigh heavily.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS: Marshal Yanda ran with the first team at right guard while Chester moved over to left guard in place of the hobbled Ben Grubbs. Grubbs did practice sparingly. Yanda's availability is borderline miraculous…The team ran some no huddle with 4 receivers split wide, one of which was Ray Rice…Jalen Parmele caught a short pass over the middle and collided with Tom Zbikowski. Zibby left the field shaken. Parmele runs heavy…Haruki Nakamura is fast becoming an exceptional blitzer. He came in clean to sack Troy Smith…Smith was up and down on the day. He hit Harper on a skinny post, nice throw and catch despite tight coverage from Evan Oglesby…Joe Flacco didn’t make any costly mistakes yet his play can hardly be categorized today as sharp. He is throwing off his back foot often when pressured heavily…After a TD pass from Smith, Kelley Washington celebrated by mimicking Ray Lewis’ pregame entrance dance.

Yamon Figurs was dressed but was mostly an observer with limited participation on special teams drills…Jarret Johnson looks very comfortable in the hybrid role and is active against the run, in coverage and getting after the quarterback – clearly a poor man’s Adalius Thomas. He provides excellent value to the roster…Robbie Felix played a little guard in addition to center and pulled nicely from the RG position to lead a nice run for Matt Lawrence.