Day 1: First full practice as a team.
Today, the Ravens took the field at the Under Armour Performance Center as a team for the first time of training camp. With fans in attendance and children wearing NFL Play 60 shirts, it has started to look and feel like football season again.
Coach Harbaugh’s Thoughts:
“We had a great day. I can’t say that we practiced great. We practiced about like you’d expect to practice the first day of training camp as a full team,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go and the message is that we’ve got a long way to go between now and tomorrow. So we’ve got a lot of work to do within the next 21 hours.”
Harbaugh is clearly challenging his team from the start but he did have a positive first impression of the team together at training camp.
“The enthusiasm was good, the effort was tremendous and the guys were excited to be back out on the field.”
TOP STORY: Bryant McKinnie (once again) isn’t in shape for camp:
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Bryant McKinnie isn’t available to participate at the start of training camp. Coach Harbaugh had an explanation:
“Bryant is just too heavy right now; he just needs to lose weight. My guess is that he lost a lot of weight today. He’s in good shape, he’s in good cardiovascular fitness, I can tell he’s worked hard. I wasn’t real comfortable putting him out there at that weight.
Harbaugh said that he will make a determination on McKinnie’s availability within the next 24-48 hours. As disappointed as the fan base may be, one got the feeling that Harbaugh’s frustrations eclipsed those of the fans.
“I’m not sure who’s more disappointed, Bryant or I, because he was pretty darn disappointed, but I was feeling pretty disappointed myself. We had a long talk about it yesterday; it wasn’t that effort wasn’t put it in, but there’s an issue and we’re going to get it fixed to get him out there.”
Lardarius Webb and Arthur Brown still recovering from surgery
Both cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and linebacker Arthur Brown (hernia) are recovering from surgery and participated in a limited capacity. Webb spoke with the media afterwards and is encouraged by his progress. Both he and coach Harbaugh are aiming for a Week 1 return against the Denver Broncos.
These players are avoiding 11-on-11 drills but are working on individual drills and some minor 1-on-1 drills where contact is limited.
Upshaw’s Weight Loss
There are a few banned items at training camp such as cell phones, but I’m not even going to ask the Ravens PR staff if I can bring a scale. Courtney Upshaw participated in camp wearing long sleeves with a towel tucked into his waistband. Reports have stated that Upshaw has shed 20 pounds since coach Harbaugh publically called him out during minicamp for being overweight.
While I don’t think Upshaw appears to have lost 20 pounds, it looks like he’s taking steps in the right direction. Hopefully Upshaw’s preparation for training camp doesn’t become a consistent concern (a la McKinnie), but personal issues aside, it’s disappointing.
Fortunately, there is no reason to believe that Upshaw won’t be fully back into shape in the near future.
Suggs’ Muscles Not Just For Show
Yesterday, I marveled at the great shape that Terrell Suggs appeared to be in while standing at the podium in street clothes. Today, he looked even more impressive showing that his fitness is translating to the football field.
Suggs was flying around the ball all day, abusing rookie offensive tackles, and would have had several sacks were Ravens QBs not protected by their red no-contact jerseys. He also batted down a pass.
It appears – after one day at least – that the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is ready to get back to his old form.
Justin Tucker’s Bomb
Unlike last year, there isn’t a kicking competition at training camp, which means we don’t have to track each kick. One kick in particular did stand out though.
Justin Tucker lined up from 58 yards out and booted a ball through the uprights with a few extra yards to spare. Not only was the kick long, but it hit the cherry-picker sitting in the middle of the goal posts. That wasn’t just power; it was also accurate.
Can Tommy Streeter Find His Hands?
The Ravens drafted wide receiver Tommy Streeter out of the University of Miami in the sixth round last season. Streeter was assigned to the practice squad and eventually placed on injured reserve.
Streeter has the prototypical body of a red zone threat. At 6-5, 215lbs, he’s hard to miss, but he also draws your eyes to him while he’s on the field. Primarily knocked for his lack of “hands,” the most necessary skill of a wide receiver, Streeter did bobble a routine pass near the sidelines, hauling it in out of bounds.
With the Ravens looking for young players to step up in the wide receiver corps this season, Streeter has one of the best shots around the NFL to make something of himself. Unfortunately, after the first practice of this season, it just appears to be more of the same at this point.
Hopefully, he proves me wrong.
Juan Castillo’s High Motor
One of coach Harbaugh’s newest additions is Run Game Coordinator Juan Castillo. Castillo joined the Ravens during their playoff run last season and has really jumped into this training camp full speed ahead. Castillo was flying around the field, cheering on players and coaching them between plays.
Castillo is just another classy hire by the Ravens and his impact should be felt on the team this year, especially on the offensive line, where he’s made his living in the NFL.
Jacoby Jones Has Game, And He Wants You To Know It
Wide Receiver/Kick Returner Jacoby Jones made a push for Super Bowl MVP last season, and has had a very busy offseason with his third place finish on Dancing With The Stars. Jones’ camp didn’t start the way he and the Ravens had hoped (by flunking the conditioning test), but he was out at practice today, running around and not appearing out of shape at all.
Jones also donned some special socks – stitched on his ankle-high black socks in white lettering was “I got game.”
The Ravens are hoping Jones can display more of the “game” that was so pivotal in their championship last season. Jones’ failed conditioning test should be water under the bridge, and he and the team can both move on.
Today tight end Ed Dickson is celebrating his 26th birthday and cornerback Corey Graham turned 28. While the age is undisclosed, WBAL’s Pete Gilbert is also celebrating a birthday today. Pete is a great guy and one of the best in the Ravens media. He’s quite worthy to be included in these Ravens camp notes.
The Ravens get back at it tomorrow with practice beginning at 2:30 p.m. and podium interviews with head coach John Harbaugh, defensive line coach Clarence Brooks and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata speaking at the podium around 5:00 p.m.
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