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All eyes were on Haloti Ngata as tropical conditions enveloped McDaniel College. The Ravens first round pick didn’t disappoint the fans or defensive leader Ray Lewis as the former Oregon Duck showed why the Ravens were willing to move up a spot to get him. He applied pressure up the gut on quarterback Steve McNair (easing up after he could have easily knocked center Mike Flynn into the Ravens prized QB) and Ngata was equally disruptive defending the run, much to the delight of Ray Lewis.
Besides Lewis, there are a few other Ravens that could benefit immensely from this burgeoning inside force. Last year, Terrell Suggs had many near misses in the sack department as quarterbacks seemed to easily step up in the pocket to avoid him off the edge. If Monday’s morning practice is any indication, that is a luxury that opposing quarterbacks will no longer enjoy and that means more sacks for the likes of Suggs, Trevor Pryce, Dan Cody and Adalius Thomas. If the Ravens can win on first down and force opponents to throw, you just might hear Lewis quote his favorite movie in the huddle as he calls the defensive set for the next play: “On my signal, unleash hell!”
One leader whose request was not fulfilled was none other than President George W. Yesterday Dolphins head coach Nick Saban declined a presidential invite to join the commander-in-chief at Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant in South Beach. According to Saban, ”That [would have been] a great experience, but it’s a personal experience. My obligation is to these players right now. Once we commit to camp, I’m out of everything.”
I wonder if Joe’s was just out of stone crabs?
A leader who is MIA is Patriots’ QB Tom Brady. Over the winter Brady had surgery on a sports hernia and he’s had some minor knee and shoulder issues. According to a team spokesperson, Brady was deeply entrenched in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Bill Belichick as expected provided little insight. “We don’t do the individual report,” he said. “That comes during the regular season when we do the injury reports.”
Even those reports are a bit dicey. Just ask fantasy footballers.
Missing from Ravens camp thus far has been the practice of the two minute drill. That is one of Steve McNair’s strengths and it certainly hasn’t been a strength of any offense guided by Brian Billick here in Baltimore. One team that is working the clock in camp is McNair’s former club, the Tennessee Titans and one of the conductors is none other than gazillionaire rookie Vince Young. According to Fisher, “[Young] is calling plays correctly at the line of scrimmage and he can do some things with his legs. He runs around and makes plays. In years back when our 2-minute stuff was working good, it seems like statistically anytime Steve (McNair) pulled the ball down and ran for more than 6 yards, we won the drive. So those kinds of things are always helpful as far as his abilities are concerned."
After yesterday’s morning practice, Derrick Mason was asked if McNair looked the same. Mason replied, “He’s dropped a little weight. That’s about it. He looks like the same Steve. His balls are coming out really good, he’s reading the defenses well. So the year that I spent apart from him, I don’t think that he’s changed any.”
That works for me!
A couple of former Ravens making news are Anthony Weaver and Will Demps. According to sources of Pro Football Weekly, Weaver is adapting well to moving inside to the tackle position for the Texans. At 280 pounds, I have to wonder how long this experiment will last. It seems a bit silly to me to give Weaver all that guaranteed payola ($12.5 million signing bonus) to play a different position.
A former Raven not playing a new position is Will Demps who apparently is enamored with his new surroundings. “I think we’re more talented here. I’m not saying what we did have in Baltimore wasn’t talented, but we have a lot, we’re young here, we’re hungry. I’ve seen a lot of success there in my four years and I think for me I can bring some of that here and just feed off of each other. Sam (Madison) brought some of what he’s done in Miami and I think we need that attacking defense.”
Hey Will, all the best to you bro but allow me to let you in on a little secret. The so called success in your four years here resulted in a combined record of 32-33.
Demps did give Jeremy Shockey a little B’more love yesterday when his shoulder pad hit Shockey’s helmet after which the bell tolled for the Giants TE. He appeared a bit dazed and confused and walked off the field gingerly, mixing in another slam of his helmet to the ground. Earlier Shockey who just a day before said that he wanted to put on a happy face and not “look so negative when I come off the field if I don’t get a ball,” sent his helmet flying in anger after Eli Manning threw a pass to someone else during drills.
I guess Shockey meant during games?
Falcons receiver Brian Finneran, a tough Ed McCaffrey type of player, went down after running a routine route. Untouched on the play, Finneran is likely lost for the season. "I’ve been with Brian five years," said Michael Vick. "The ups, the downs. He’s always there. He’s always in here working out, trying to get better, trying to help other guys get better. You should have seen practice yesterday. I’m throwing the ball on the ground and he’s going down to catch it. He catches everything. I always could look in his eyes in the huddle and know he wanted the ball, and if I got it anywhere near him he was going to catch it."
"I just hope next year he can come back strong.”
One player looking to come back strong is David Boston. Word is Boston is no longer looking like a home run hitter and is down to 228 pounds. According to Jon Gruden, "I’m really jacked up about him. He’s been something to see.” Thankfully Gruden didn’t say he was really juiced about Boston.
Other tidbits: Browns CB Daylon McCutcheon and OT Ryan Tucker both underwent arthroscopic knee surgery recently. Both are starters and both are expected to be ready for the season opener; Don Banks from Sports Illustrated visited McDaniel College yesterday and was seen talking to Steve McNair; Colts safety Bob Sanders is on the PUP list. For the record, players can only be put on the PUP list before the first practice of training camp. If they are still on the list after final cutdown to 53 players, they cannot be activated until Week 7.