Today was the first day that all veterans and rookies had to participate in training camp. Held in Westminster, MD and McDaniel College which it has been since the days of the Baltimore Colts, it was a mad house today of fans and fun. 98 Rock was there early to have a pre-game show complete with a free breakfast and even ice cold beer served at 7:45 in the morning!
I have been going to the Ravens training camps since I was very young, and this was by far the most intense day of practice that I have ever been a part of. There had to have been around 10,000 fans and I even heard one gentleman sitting next to me say "There are more people here than there was at the Orioles game last night." Here is what I thought of today's practice after the jump.
- Kickers Grahmn Gano and Steven Hauschka were neck and neck all day today in the kicking competition, but it seemed like Gano got the best of Hauschka. Gano was 4 for 4 on a field goal kicking drill and Hauschka missed one. But a drill that I found rather interesting involved both kickers standing along side the goal post. Here, they each got 3 chances and were trying to hit the posts from about 20 yards away on purpose. Gano was the first to get it and it took Hauschka about 6-7 tries to finally hit his first post. Gano looks to have the stronger leg, as Hauschka badly came up short on what looked to be at the most a 60 yard field goal. Gano also looked to have an extremely strong leg on kick offs.
- In the beginning of the practice, the WR were lining up and practicing getting acceleration as if the ball was snapped. They stood in two lines, but what got me thinking was the order by which the players lined up. It was Clayton and Williams to go first, followed by Smith and Harper. I thought that the way this drill was set up is telling us that a possible line-up as of right now is Clayton, Williams, Smith, Harper. But it is still early. However, WR's such as Biren Ealy and Eron Riley showed some serious skill today, particularly Ealy. He made many catches on the tips of his toes and was burning our CB's on multiple routes
- The 3 Quaterbacks that are currently on the roster, Joe Flacco, Troy Smith and John Beck, all impressed me today. Each one of these guys can really get the ball out of their hand quickly and with some force behind it. There were multiple passes put on the money by these 3, including a one handed grab by Ray Rice and a ball threaded through the defense into Heap's hands. The QB's also seemed to be able to throw the deep ball very well.
- Based on physical image, there are a few players that stand out immensly. WR Marcus Smith is huge. He looks like a linebacker playing WR. Huge legs and enormous arms. His footwork looks very solid and he is definitely not afraid of going across the middle. Kelly Gregg has a body type that you will not see anywhere else. He seems to have lost a little bit of his belly, but he looks like one solid muscle, sort of like a rhino. As most of us know, Dawan Landry is ripped. Well, he is ripped! I cannot believe that he is only 208 pounds, because his arms and neck make him look close to 240. If Landry put on 20 pounds, he could be a middle linebacker in this league.
- Our secondary may be the best this team has ever seen, definitely the fastest. Some had their struggles, such as Frank Walker who got beat on a few passes, but players like Dominique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb blankted their Wideout all day. Webb looks to have the most fluid hip motion and best ability to change direction of any of the CB's. He stuck with Justin Harper very well on one pass that looked to be an easy catch. But Webb used his speed to get in front of Harper, creating an incomplete pass on a long ball. I was very impressed with the physicality of Foxworth also. On a pass to Demetrius Williams on the sideline, Foxworth was with D-Will the whole way there, but Williams seemed to create space at the last moment. As Williams went up for the ball, Foxworth got in Williams' face and forced D-Will to catch the ball out of bounds. He looks to have very good press coverage for being a man to man DB his whole career.
- The first string Offensive Line looks incredible. They are big, strong, fast and maybe the most athletic in the league. With Matt Birk at Center, you can really tell why he has been a pro-bowl selection so many times. His fundamentals are perfect and having such a great veteran on this extremely young O-Line will only help everyone else. Oher looked great today as well. He is a physical freak and for someone who weighs 300 pounds, it really does not look like he has too much body fat. At one point in a 11 on 11 drill, Gaither was lined up at Right Tackle and Oher was at Right Gaurd. This move had Heap back on the O-Line at the LT position.
- On the other hand, the 2nd string of O-Lineman was extremely sloppy this morning. On one particular drive, they had 3 false starts in about 5 snaps. They missed multiple blocks and the QB taking the snaps would have gotten destroyed had the defensive players had the chance. Their run blocking was not on point and these guys really need some work.
Well, unlike Bruce who has a great position to take great photos 6 inches away from the players, I was in the bleachers with the rest of barbaian fans snapping away. Here are a few photos from my spot in the corner of the endzone.
Quarterbacks John Beck, Joe Flacco and Troy Smith right before practice starts
Bruce's prom date, Haruki Nakamura tending to a cut on his elbow and Tom Zbikowskit taking in the 10,000+ fans' cheers.
Strong Safety Dawan Landry
The Dreads, KJ Gerard and Lardarius Webb
Linebacker Tavares Gooden doing drills
Wide Receivers Marcus Smith and Justin Harper
Thanks for reading and I look forward to reporting more training camps throughout the next 3 weeks for those who are not as fortunate to make a trip to McDaniel College.