The Baltrimore Ravens finished up their Wesminster, Maryland portion of Training Camp as they will leave McDaniel College for the cozier confines of Owings Mills, along with getting the chance to sleep in their own homes and beds for a change.
With the rain that fell yesterday and this morning, the team practiced on the lower Bair Stadium field, which actuallly makes it easier for the fans to see as it only has one field and the surrounding slope makes for good viewing on this final day here.
Most of the same players that have been sidelined recently continue their absence from taking part. Guard Chris Chester was in full uniform with his right calf wrapped, but seems to be doing fine. Ed Reed was wearing the red (no contact) jersey again, but we now know it is more to keep him fresh and safe rather than to alarm anyone of an injury.
On the field:
Joe Flacco throws a 40 yard deep slant to Kelley Washington. Another sweet bomb from Joe catches Demetrius Williams in full stride who had to "Bolt" (Usain reference) to run underneath the 50 yard pass to catch it in his outstretched arms. That would be a great sight to see on Sundays! At the same time, the defense is playing soft and understandably so, in order to stay away from any unnecessary collisions and injuries. However, even with the lax defense, the passing combinations are looking sharp today.
Ray is standing by himself on the sidelines, loosening up before donning his helmet to go on the field with the first team defense. Looking at the first team defensive front seven, the Ravens have so many options to mix and match with personnel, be it in the trenches or at the linebacking positions. Trevor Pryce said that the defensive line has the best talent and depth since he's been here. Decision time will put the coaches in the uncomfortable position of making some real tough choices, ones that many other teams might be salivating and waiting like vultures to swoop in and pick at the remains for their rosters. The Ravens look so deep on defense and will be so tough to move the ball against theis season, at least on the ground.
Our secondary depth is easily better than it has been in years as well. However, while the speed at corner is as good as any team in the league, the questions of their abilities to play as physical as needed might be questioned and certainly will be tested by the opponents. Having the front seven in front plus thumpers like safeties Dawan Landry and Ed Reed behind them should complement their skills just fine.
Field goals were not attempted today by the two kickers but they did practice the fakes off the formations, with Graham Gano showing his 4.5 second 40 yard dash speed and Steven Hauschka his pass catching ability, plus Sam Koch's running and throwing skills. Most of you will remember Koch's great run off of a fake field goal atempt that contibuted to what was a thrilling victory in Dallas.last season.
Towards the end of practice, Flacco hands off to Ray Rice on a basic run play. However, it is interesting to note that Rice seems to hide behind his mammoth offensive line until a hole opens up and then he accelerates through to daylight. If he breaks into the clear, he's going to be hard to run down for any opponent.
Practice ends, the players trudge to the fences to sign autographs for the fans one last time here in Westminster as the moving vans are lined up to ship the team back to Owings Mills. Coach John Harbaugh takes the podium for the final interview before his team gets ready for their next preseason game.
Sunday is a closed practice session in preparation for Monday night's exhibition game against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium. The game features the return to Baltimore of former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan, linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard
Check back over the next few days as I am putting together a feature story on the Ravens Defensive Line Coach, Clarence Brooks, whom I had the pleasure of sitting down with for a private interview today back at the team hotel. It also includes great comments from Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce and Kelly Gregg.
This will be my last report from Westminster and I've never taken for granted the opportunity to have such great access to the players, coaches and Front Office personnel, not to mention the first class way they treat the media and especially the great food they served all camp!