In past years the Baltimore Ravens vaunted defense usually had its way with the team's offense in Training Camp. Now the offense holds its own, even sometimes moving the ball seemingly almost at will, with a bit of a swagger.
QB Joe Flacco truly has total control of this offense, pointing players into their proper formations, with everyone following his directions. Then, even with a rocket for an arm, he proves he can still throw the soft pass with a nice touch when required. Even against the first team defense, the starting offensive line (minus Matt Birk and Jared Gaither) still protects Joe for as long as it takes for him to get the pass off. Afterwards, in front of me along the back line of the end zone, Head Coach John Harbaugh and Flacco are talking technical gibberish while Marc Bulger runs the offense.
In 11-on-11 full contact drills, the echo of pads hitting pads is heard across the field. Fabian Washington is in his jersey and shorts, but not practicing this morning. On the other hand, Todd Heap is dressed and playing, as evidenced by cutting across the middle for a Flacco pass in non-contact offense vs. defense drills.
Prescott Burgess picks off Flacco near the goal line but then Troy Smith hits rookie TE Ed Dickson in the back of the end zone through a maze of defensive plays for a score. Wow, that was an amazing play and shows what great hands Dickson has, prompting Senior Offensive Assistant Al Saunders to cheer for the kid.
Placekicker Billy Cundiff appears to be taking all of the kicker opportunities today as he hits consecutively from 32 and 42 yards, misses from 45 but nails one from 52. Later he hits a couple of shorter ones from 30 and 33 yards.
On the goal line, Heap is tackled after receiving a pass and getting gang tackled. He rises looking for the refs to signal the TD, but the defense rushes in to object. The refs confer and give Heap the TD signal he was hoping for, to the chagrin of the defense. My though of that familiar play was that if it was called a TD for the Pittsburgh Steelers' Santonio Holmes, then it should be called the same for Heap!
At the podium after practice ends, Harbaugh does not rule out the possibility of adding additional secondary help and acknowledges that could include Frank Walker and Shawn SPrings, but no one dared to askabout the whereabouts of one Chris McAlister! He also related that the team is unsure about the health of tackle Jared Gaither, who supposedly has a muscle cramp and lost 20 pounds on his own in the off season. The team is concerned enough to hold hi out of further practice and consider additional medical testing. The team is working out three unnamed offensive linemen as the players clear the field after the morning session.
I didn't stay for the afternoon session, so there will be no PM Edition, although you can go to the team's official site for further news and notes on Training Camp.