Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Passing Camp Notes, May 25, 2010

The more you observe OTA’s the more you are reminded that such activities are nothing more than dress rehearsals – the sound checks for a concert called training camp. Cam Cameron put it all into perspective a couple of weeks ago when he cautioned the media, “It’s easy to get excited about [practice performances] when there’s no threat of contact.”

That said the OTA’s are a nice way to keep tabs on the players and observe their individual progress as they ready for the heat and physicality that goes hand-in-hand with Camp Harbaugh at McDaniel College in late July.

Tuesday’s practice was very uneventful for the first 75 minutes as there was little going on other than ½ to ¾-speed play installment with the offense and defense along with some special teams practice under the watchful eye of Jerry Rosburg.

The S/T coordinator’s focus on this Tuesday morning was perimeter blocking on the gunners and the other wide coverage guys. The goal was to provide a seal to give the punt returner some real estate to navigate along the sidelines. Interestingly Donte Stallworth was fielding punts and did so flawlessly.

The tempo really didn’t pick up until Ray Rice took a statue of liberty handoff from Joe Flacco and ran it in from about 7 yards out during red zone drills. Rice dunked the ball over the goal post.

The Ravens offense shortly thereafter reversed field and took it to the opposite 35 yard line where the offense and defense engaged in a full squad face off. Joe Flacco was not particularly sharp on Tuesday and telegraphed where he was going with the football pre-snap on one play. K.J. Gerard received the telegram and nearly had a pick 6 on a pass intended for Mason. Gerard had a very solid outing playing corner and almost had another pick later in practice after another forced Flacco throw.

Derrick Mason, sporting a rather long beard, schooled rookie UDFA Prince Miller. Mason ran an out, up and out while Miller continued downfield to cover the “up.” Mason created so much separation that he was able to catch the out, stop before continuing out of bounds and then run up the sidelines another 20 YAC. Ray Rice playfully went up to Miller after the play and asked if he was ok. Except for his missing jock, Miller seemed fine.

John Beck earned some praise from Cam Cameron after effectively enticing the safeties to bite, staying with a play and then delivering a strike in the right corner of the end zone to a wide open Eron Riley for a 30 yard score.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Jalen Parmele showed some nice open field elusiveness on a screen pass late during the session and took the Troy Smith toss in from 65 yards out. It was unclear whether the flag thrown by the official was for an offsides infraction or a false start. After several inquiries about the call from players and John Harbaugh, the star struck zebra clammed up and said nothing. I doubt that he’ll be invited back…Terrence Cody was the star on the following two plays. The interior line of Digger Bujnoch, David Hale and Bryan Mattison were no match for Cody. He sacked Smith and forced a fumble which Cody enthusiastically battled for and then sacked Smith again on the very next play…Billy Cundiff’s leg looked strong but accuracy was a tad less than desirable. His FGA’s sometimes drew slightly to the left of the uprights. His 60 yard effort fell about 3 yards short but was dead center.

MORE NOTES & OBSERVATIONS: Marcus Smith is trying to work his way back into shape after his season ending knee injury during the preseason last year. He seems a little thick at the moment and still struggles with consistency when catching the football…On the other hand, Justin Harper has shown marked improvement with his hands and has consistently caught everything thrown his way…David Reed has impressed the coaches and scouts early during OTA’s this offseason but he didn’t get many reps on Tuesday. Reed adjusts well to balls in flight and has soft hands…Domonique Foxworth temporarily took himself out of practice with what looked like a leg injury. He did return with no ill effects…Ray Rice looks slimmer than he did in 2009…RB Curtis Steele, an UDFA out of Memphis is looking very solid and if he can contribute on special teams while continuing the momentum he’s built in OTA’s, he has a shot at the 53 man roster…Haruki Nakamura practiced with the 2’s and 3’s and is ahead of his rehab schedule…Dannell Ellerbe is picking up where he left off last season although he seems a bit heavier…The team is said to be impressed with Arthur Jones who has shown so far that he can be an effective pass rusher from the interior defensive line. Look for the Ravens to pressure from the middle this season…The rookie tight ends continue to impress. Both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are big targets who catch confidently and appear to be quick studies, particularly Pitta who is being asked to play a multi-faceted role…Mark Clayton returned to action and looked sharp in and out of his breaks, much to the delight of receivers coach Jim Hostler…Jarret Johnson was in attendance but participated on a limited basis…Brendon Ayanbadejo practiced but he too was limited…Paul Kruger continues to fly beneath the radar screen and is hardly noticeable. He’ll be watched closely this summer.