Sunday, August 08, 2010

Team depth, bountiful except at corner

There are some observers who believe that Marc Bulger has been the team's best quarterback in camp so far. Clearly that's a debatable topic yet Bulger's embracing of the offense, his mastery of the subtleties of the position and his camp productivity represent dividends on the team's investment in the former Pro Bowl QB.

Insiders weren't too pleased about Flacco's short-lived whining about bringing Bulger in. They prefer instead that Flacco learn from the veteran's experiences and incorporate those subtleties into his own game. This is added value in the Bulger signing. Such experiences aren't available when all quarterbacks are of the same age and share similar game experiences.

Veterans Travis Fisher and Walt Harris have done very little so far in camp. Fisher no longer possesses the speed that he once had and is almost always a step behind. Harris didn't see the field much prior to hitting IR and he's now awaiting an injury settlement. Word is that Harris and his agent aren't exactly enamored with the way he's been handled by the Ravens. Neither player has made a single memorable impactful play during camp. Frank Walker would actually be an upgrade and you have to wonder why the Ravens don't just make the move to bring him back. It could be that they are waiting to see if a more desirable name hits the streets first.

With the lack of depth at corner, it's been suggested that perhaps the Ravens should try to unwind the trade they made last summer with the Green Bay Packers. Then the Ravens sent Derrick Martin to the Packers in exchange for offensive lineman Tony Moll. The suggestion was quickly rebuffed. Word is the Ravens really like Moll's versatility and contributions to special teams. Barring any lingering issues with his concussion, Moll is likely to be part of the final 53.

Depth is certainly something that marks the position of tight end for the Ravens. Todd Heap looks healthier than he's been in years and rookies Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta hardly look like freshmen. Both are heady players and Pitta has been impressive in his ability to execute from many different positions on the field. Cam Cameron is moving him around in the slot, backfield and as an H-back. Dickson is most impressive in the way he carries his pads. Some players have great clock speed in t-shirts and shorts but slow when they are loaded up with equipment. That's not the case with Dickson. Some believe that if anything were to happen to Heap, either of these players would be able to step in and immediately pick up the slack. Surprisingly as these two rookies compete for snaps, they are the best of friends.

A favorite of many in the organization, Justin Harper has shown dramatically improved hands during this training camp. His challenges will come when the preseason games arrive. Last year Harper found ways to create separation but struggled to hold on to the football during the summer games. Interestingly, while Harper has made some impressive grabs during practice, there are some who believe that he had a better camp last year particularly in areas outside of ball catching.

A receiver who has really stepped up at McDaniel College this summer is Mark Clayton. He's healthier this year and isn't battling the hamstring issues that have so often inhibited his play. At this point he is the clear No. 3 receiver ahead of Donte Stallworth who has also had a very good camp. That said, the mix of Stallworth with Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason would appear to be more complementary. The issue with Clayton and Mason together is that both players have very similar styles and build.

The offensive line has had its fair share of drama thanks to Jared Gaither's enigmatic ways and those ways just might cause him to lose his left tackle position. He simply isn't dependable and a team needs that from the blindside position. Gaither has been in and out of practice, suffering from back spasms that the team feels are tied to his weight loss and loss of fluids during camp. This drama won't go away any time soon.To fill in for Gaither, the Ravens move Michael Oher to left tackle and they've plugged in Joe Reitz and Ramon Harewood at right tackle. Now that Oniel Cousins has returned to practice he's also in the mix.Reitz has been referred to as a poor man's Joe Staley and the former tight end and Western Michigan basketball player has shown improvement. With another year of practice squad eligibility remaining, that appears to be his likely destination.

The coaching staff has been impressed with Harewood and at this point in his career they believe he's further along in his development than Cousins was as a rookie. Harewood will likely follow a similar path to Tony Pashos. He'll come down with some mysterious injury and head to IR. It's doubtful that the team will be able to cut Harewood and successfully reclaim him for the practice squad. One insider said not to be surprised if Harewood is the team's starting right tackle in 2012.


Jerry B said...

It's always exciting this time of year and certainly easy to be enthusiastic about a team that seems loaded at every position but corner. Maybe I'm a cockeyed optomist, but I think with more offensive display and an improved pass rush, there won't be as much pressure on the secondary as there was the second half of last year. That being said, they need Webb back ASAP! As for Gaither, I've given up on him and, hopefully, he'll prove me wrong. What a waste of talent......

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Aug 10
...JERRY B and I see things the same way... G.M.T.A.
...I think OZZIE will produce a corner. The Ravens are very good at filling needs. I have complete faith in ERIC and Ozzie.
..PS I need to get up to TRG CAMP...been very busy with my family.