RAVENS RECAP: MANDATORY OTA’S DAY 3

Camp Notes RAVENS RECAP: MANDATORY OTA’S DAY 3

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The Ravens have been very fortunate with weather conditions during their OTA’s thus far and today was no different as the team practiced under partly cloudy skies and comfortable temps hovering in the mid 70’s.
 
The MIA’s today were David Pittman (hamstring), Dan Cody (knee) and Mike Smith (shoulder).  Jonathan Ogden attended but only as an observer.  Dennis Haley returned to practice today.
 
The NFL Network crew was in full force today out at Owings Mills as they prepared a Ravens feature set for 8 PM tomorrow night.  Extra camera towers were on hand for the taping.
 
Briefly the entire defensive unit was on the back field closest to the media.  There Rex Ryan warmed them up by practicing interception returns, coordinating their blocking not too unlike that of a punt return.  The defense save the defensive backs then retreated to the easternmost field nearest the complex.
 
Rick Neuheisel had the QB’s and WR’s running through some red zone plays early in the day.  Out of a double wide formation, receivers alternated their routes intended to get one on one isolation despite a Cover 4 alignment.  The routes were run precisely and designed to have defenders commit to a receiver and get the pre-requisite spacing in order to gain a favorable match-up on the primary target.
 
After completing red zone patterns the offense focused on route running in the seam, straddling the hash marks.  Neuheisel designated the importance of 22 yards in depth for the routes suggesting that is the optimal point to get separation from the inside pass defender in a Cover 3 and just prior to the free safety rolling over.  The quarterback is required to read the free safety and determine if dropping the ball over the defender or intentionally throwing to the outside shoulder of the receiver is best to successfully complete the play.
 
McNair then brought out Air McNair as he threw three consecutive passes each traveling 45 yards in flight – destination skinny post.  All three passes were fairly well thrown although each could have been thrown a bit earlier.  The receivers had to slow down marginally in order to catch the passes in stride.
 
One on one drills followed.  Today Boller and Finnerty threw to the receivers while McNair and Smith handled the RB’s and TE’s.  McNair and Smith chose from a handful of tights and RB’s running up against 3 or 4 defenders while Boller’s side of the field was exclusively one on one.  Here’s how those matchups shook out today.

 
Receiver
Defender
Advantage
Comments
Mason
Rolle
Mason
 
Bryant
Oglesby
Oglesby
Intercepted by Oglesby
Clayton
Ivy
Clayton
 
Linson
Prude
Incomplete
Prude fails to turn to look for overthrown ball
Williams
Reed
Williams
Reed nearly swats ball; tight coverage
Figurs
Maze
Maze
(Finnerty) Incomplete; tight coverage
Darling
Martin
Darling       
Blew by Martin for TD pass from Boller
Williams
Rolle
Rolle
Tight coverage on 12 yard out
Clayton
Reed
Clayton
Great move to create separation
Figurs
Oglesby
Oglesby
Figurs fall; tight coverage from E.O.
Mason
Martin
Mason
(Boller)
 

Smith looked solid on his end of the field once delivering a precise dart to TE Kendrick Ballantyne through a small window with Prescott Burgess covering closely.  Neuheisel responded exclaiming, “Nice shot!” Smith however followed that up with a wide miss of a very open Daniel Wilcox.  McNair then stepped up and made a nice touch pass to Ballantyne just outside the right hash marks and hit the TE in stride about 15 yards downfield.  Ballantyne dropped it.
 
The first unit offensive line combo was the same today as it has been all week: Kracalik-Brown-Flynn-Chester-Terry.  The second unit included Kracalik-Vincent-Chester-Grubbs-Yanda.
 
Full team drills followed simulating a no huddle attack with 2 minutes remaining in the half, one timeout and the ball placed at the offense’s 30 yard line.  Here’s how the first unit fared:
 
Situation
Play
Comments
1-10-30
Run M. Smith, 5 yds
 
2-05-35
McNair to M. Smith, 5 yds
 
1-10-40
McNair to Clayton, 9 yards
 
2-01-49
Incomplete; thrown away
 
3-01-49
Run M. Anderson, 6 yds
1:04 Remaining
1-10-45
McNair to Anderson
 
2-5-40
McNair to Wilcox, 15 yds
 
 
The second team offense took over and assumed the ball at their own 25 with 2:00 back on the clock.  Here’s what the Boller led offense put together…

 
Situation
Play
Comments
1-10-25
Boller to Darling Incomplete
Nice route; ball dropped by Darling; Neuheisel: "Too good a route [to drop it] Devard."
2-10–25
Boller to Daniels, 5 yds
1:56
3-05-30
Boller to Williams, 10 yds
1:23
1-10-40
Sack
Last timeout
2-13-37
Boller to Darling Incomplete
Broken up by Prude
3-13-37
Screen to Cory Ross, 13 yards
Tipped screen pass from Boller, very poorly executed but the results keep the drive alive
1-10-50
Boller to Linson, flanker screen, 15 yards
0:35
1-10-35       
Pass to Ross, 10 yds
Time runs out
 

As time ran out Frank Gansz’ unit took over and today they focused on the kick return team.  B.J. Sams, Yamon Figurs, Cory Ross and Mark Clayton alternated on returns.  Today was the first time we really got to see Figurs open it up.  Let’s just say Figurs has an extra gear and effortlessly outruns angles.
 
Special teams in general should improve in ’07 and that’s not to say they were bad in ’06.  It’s simply a matter of numbers and desire.  When a team has depth, the one way a player can separate himself from competition is by giving the coaches a reason to put him on the field.  Special teams can provide that opportunity for the hungry player.  The Ravens have many and getting down to the final 53 will be very difficult.
 
After Gansz’ boys left the field the Ravens brought out the plastic barrels for a barrel of 7 on 7 fun.  Each quarterback participated.
 
McNair
  • No. 9 found the going tough as coverage was tight on his first snap opting to dump off to McGahee in the right flat.
  • On his second snap McNair tried a streak down the right sideline.  His pass to a well covered Derrick Mason was batted away by Chris McAlister.
  • Interestingly on the next play, McNair handed off to Mike Anderson, something rarely seen in 7 on 7 drills.  Not sure what that accomplished.
Boller
  • Boller hit Demetrius Williams on a deep crossing route.  Williams got behind Corey Ivy for the score.
  • Boller then hit tight end Marcus Freeman outside the right has (Winborne)
  • Boller to Ross out of the backfield; Boller does a nice job of looking receivers downfield to create space for Ross underneath.  Billick chimes in, “Nice job!”
  • Boller to Willis on a hot route (slant).
Smith
  • Hits McGahee alone in left flat; ball thrown behind receiver although McGahee adjusts nicely.
  • Smith throws a dart to Freeman down the left has for a 20 yard pick up.
Finnerty
  • Forces pass into coverage, nearly intercepted by Prescott Burgess.
McNair
  • Hits Mason on a nice sideline route to the 8 yard line…17 yard gain.
  • McNair follows that with a short toss to Quinn Sypniewski for 5 yards
  • Clayton catches a 15 yard curl between the right hash and the sideline.  Reed had it read and nearly picked it off but Clayton effectively shielded Reed from a clear lane to the ball.
Boller
  • Boller’s pass to Darling broken up by Ronnie Prude who was one step away from a pick 6.
  • Boller hits Williams in the left end of the end zone as he out jumps Ivy for the score
Following the 7 on 7’s the team then went back into full squad mode starting at the offense’s own 27:
 
(1st Team)
  • McGahee off right tackle, no gain (Scott)
  • Anderson, nice run off left side from a double tight end formation
  • Scott sacks McNair
(2nd Team)
  • Stretch handoff to Musa Smith…nicely executed
  • Boller to Wilcox in left flat, 10 yards
Other notes and observations: Willis McGahee claims that the No. 21 jersey worn by Chris McAlister was not for sale.  He also said that he wanted to start fresh and leave No. 21 behind in Buffalo.  He added that No. 23 was his first round draft position as well in the 2003, a year in which he did not see the field as he recovered from a major knee injury…Art Modell was once again on hand for today’s practice…Clarence Moore’s activities were limited.  He will have a tough time making the final 53 man roster since he is so one dimensional and of very little value to special teams…The last of the OTA’s are set for June 12-14 and they too are mandatory.  Only the June 13 OTA’s are open to the media.

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Tony Lombardi

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Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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