During the Ravens’ Summer Training Camp in 2011 following a morning practice, former Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron took the podium to field questions from the media.
One member of the media commented on how good then rookie wide receiver Tandon Doss looked during this particular practice. Cameron apparently unimpressed said, “We’ll see how he performs once we introduce the threat of contact.”
The words hung in the air.
Was Cameron sending a message?
Players know that their teammates won’t initiate violent collisions during practice and that knowledge alone can boost even a timid player’s productivity during practice.
Fast-forward to Summer Training Camp 2012, and Doss is seen often in t-shirt and shorts, working out on the sidelines trying to heal a nagging injury. He misses practice often. Valuable time trying to develop a rapport with his quarterbacks is lost.
Other players notice as they battle the blazing elements. And you have to wonder if Doss lost a little bit of respect from his peers and coaches with each missed practice.
While observing one particular practice, Doss said something to Cary Williams from the sideline. The comment isn’t audible from the spot reserved for media but it’s clear that Williams isn’t happy and he goes after Doss, even ridiculing him for being a regular observer and not a participant.
Only Williams’ words weren’t so politically correct.
This season Doss will have an opportunity to fill some big shoes, those left behind by Super Bowl hero Anquan Boldin. His toughness will be watched closely and when compared to Q he’ll be hard-pressed to match such high-end physicality.
He will have to make plays, not just in practice but when the Steelers’ Ryan Clark is bearing down on him from the safety position and the threat of contact is introduced.
Only then will the Ravens truly now what they have in Tandon Doss.