For Some Training Camp Represents a Field of Dreams

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As children, many of us aspired to be professional athletes. Back in the days before Xbox and PlayStation and EA Sports, the days when Video Pong was cutting edge, we spent our summer on the ball field from mid morning to sundown.

The fields were simple. Bases were made of castaway clothing or boxes — perhaps even a crushed soda can or milk carton. The fields were safe. Parents didn’t seem to mind that you hopped on your bike and took off, not to be seen again until dusk.

The fields inspired. They were hallowed grounds where children competed and honed their skills, surely to carve a path to the future, to the big leagues, to fulfilled dreams.

The movie Field of Dreams makes its way to my DVD player from time to time. And each time, I seem to pick up on something that somehow escaped me in the previous viewing.

During my most recent sit down with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, I was tuned in – no make that locked in on some of the dialogue.

During the film’s final moments, Ray Kinsella played by Costner is reunited with his deceased dad, John Kinsella.

John: Is this heaven?

Ray: It’s Iowa.

John: I could have sworn this was heaven.

Ray: Is there a heaven?

John: Oh yeah, it’s the place dreams come true.

Ray: (looking around at his field, his farm, his home and his family) Maybe this is heaven.

The messages, lessons and imagery of this movie will capture your mind and envelope it in a blanket of hope.

Hope is what will drive the athletes who take their field of dreams at the Under Armour Performance Center on July 25.

All of them were the best of the lot back on those fields as youngsters. They went on to high school to be the best amongst their classmates and that resulted in college scholarships. In college they refined their craft and while they remained the best among peers, the gap narrowed.

This summer undrafted free agents like will test their skills against the world’s best to see if they have what it takes – to see if they can realize a dream.

“They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children longing for the past.”

These athletes will compete for limited spots on a roster that looks very deep and talented. They will attempt to gain the advantage they once enjoyed in days gone by. Yet the struggle is more intense and the threat of failure for the first time in their lives will be very real. It will stare them in the face and they will fight with every fiber of their being to listen to the whispers heard by Ray Kansella in that Iowa cornfield.

“Go the distance!”

Fans will soon turn their attention towards Ravens Summer Camp and when you do keep in mind that these players we often criticize are the best in the world at what they do. Even those who don’t quite make the cut aren’t that far behind. The years of practice, the hours in the weight room, the gallons of sweat all lead them to Owings Mills, Maryland – the threshold to their dreams.

Some will make it. Some will not. Some will be redirected to the practice squad and get a second chance at fulfilling a dream. Jameel McClain did it. Dannell Ellerbe did it and so did Kelly Gregg.

They persevered driven by a dream.

They went the distance.

 

 

 

Article originally posted in 2010

15 Raves on “For Some Training Camp Represents a Field of Dreams

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      Paul, that’s really difficult to peg. The more I attend camp, the more obvious it becomes that to the untrained eye, camp can be a mirage of sorts. Guys who are on the bubble go balls-to-the-wall when competing against established veterans who already know their roles. The bubble guys are in survival mode while the vets are in protective mode. The results are often misleading. That’s why when guys who might shine in preseason games and eventually get cut, it leaves fans wondering why. The coaches know and most of the time they are right.

      If I could take a guess at the positions where a surprise could surface I’d say linebacker, wide receiver, DB and potentially tight end with Matt Furstenburg.

      What about you?

      • Paul Lukoskie on said:

        In all honesty Tony, I’m not sure.

        I think WR probably has the most ambiguity right now. Outside of Torrey and Jacoby, everyone is relatively untested or unknown. Sure, Thompson looked good in pre-season last year the few snaps he got, but can he lock down a starting role? He’s got the wheels. Doss looked good in a few outings, but also looked scared in the Indy playoff game.

        I agree with you about Furstenburg. I definitely think he could beat out Bajema for the 3rd TE spot. Furstenburg isn’t as good of a blocker as some TEs are, but I would argue he is probably better than Pitta or Dickson. Plus, Furstenburg has some decent speed for a 250-255lb TE. Very underutilized at MD.

        Aaron Mellette could surprise.

        Asa Jackson could also really turn some heads.

  1. Big Perm on said:

    Nice article Tony. I enjoy this type of read. I’m interested to see if we have a nice surprise at linebacker like we seem to every year. Have you seen anything out of Brandon Copeland, the LB from Penn? I wonder if he could be the next Jameel McClain or Dannelle Ellerbe.

    • Paul Lukoskie on said:

      Brandon Copeland is interesting.

      I think he could be that next STs player turned decent rotational player a la Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan, etc.

      Love his size (6’3″ 255-260lbs).

  2. Paul Lukoskie on said:

    Roger Gaines, the UDFA offensive tackle is REALLY intriguing. Ideal size (and arm length) to play left tackle and he moves decently well for his size.

    I know he had surgery recently, which is why I think he could be an IR candidate, but it will be interesting to see the competition between Gaines, Ricky Wagner, David Mims, and maybe even guys like Jack Cornell.

    Speaking of Cornell, I’m curious to see how much he has improved. I know the coaching staff is super high on him as a swing tackle/guard.

  3. john schultheis on said:

    Tony, I hate to shake all these guys hopes up or kill their dreams in fantasy land but….. no surprises come out of training camp. As my articles on website I write for suggests:
    At wide receive- this is set with jones at second spot unless Ravens want him on “all” kickoff returns. then he plays part time at #2 slot, Doss has had his shots in the last two years at times at number three slot and has failed so…..looked for a free agent veteran to be signed and start there. The WR from Md William and last years rookie, Thompson and raw talent Streeter are Torrey Smith types to be backups at his position and are fighting for a roster spot..
    At linebacker McClain must be healthy and rookie Brown and veteran Smith are likely to see lots of playing time with Josh Bynes and last years Omar Brown who was injured, as best subs but don’t be surprised if Upshaw winds up as an inside backer. FORGET THE REST! At DB Webb must start and Corey Graham and Jimmy smith (counted on to start) are first choices at other starting slots but Chykiea Brown and Chris Johnson ,a ten year veteran are way ahead of Asa Jackson at his short height and no experience and stupid arrest to play at all this year. Love all those fans with no knowledge that dream a lot about players who have little hope and will not Big surprises will be at what rookies do and how much they play like fullback, Lb Simon and the centerf Shipley if he starts starts. No other SURPRISE!!.

    • Paul Lukoskie on said:

      There is no way they would move Upshaw to ILB. The dude is 280lbs and played most of last year in the low 270′s. This isn’t 1995 and there are no Levon Kirkland-type linebackers that are just thumpers. Defenses don’t work that way anymore. That was one of the biggest issues on this defense last year: they had no one who could run! They got some guys who can run, so why move Upshaw at all? He’ll line up as a run-stopping OLB/DE in certain packages. Plain and simple.

      Also, not sure what you’re talking about with Asa Jackson being arrested…he tested positive for adderall last year. He and Christian Thompson will be suspended for the first 4 games this coming season.

      Finally, AQ Shipley isn’t a rookie. He’s been in the league for a few years and it is highly unlikely that he starts. Gino will start at center.

      • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

        Paul, Asa served his suspension last season and was able to come off suspension for the Denver Divisional Playoff Game. I agree with your thoughts on Upshaw and Gino. FWIW, Shipley costs the Ravens nothing if he fails to make the team. If he does, the Ravens give up their 2014 7th round pick.

        • Paul Lukoskie on said:

          The only reason why I think Shipley gets cut is if they feel good about Jensen as a swing OG/C. As you said, they traded a 7th rounder for him…so no harm, no foul if they do cut Shipley.

  4. JerryB on said:

    The one ingredient for success that cannot be measured is……heart! Given the fact that all the athletes invited to camp are talented, sometimes that’s the difference maker. Many teams passed on Ray Lewis when he entered the draft because he was too small. What he may have lacked in height he more than made up for in heart. The rest, as they say, is……history!

  5. Jay on said:

    I’m looking for Streeter to make some noise. He has the physical tools to dominate.
    I look forward to seeing him give cover guys fits with his height and speed.
    The last year used as a maturing tool should serve him well.
    And I think Smith and Brown at starting inside linebackers will develop into a very good combo, veteran leadership and experience and Brown’s physical speed and talent.

    • Paul Lukoskie on said:

      I think you’re going to find that Tommy Streeter won’t really be much more than a 9-route receiver. He’s fast…in a straight line, but he doesn’t separate from defensive backs well and he telegraphs routes. What I mean by that is due to his height, he has a hard time making quick cuts and sinking his hips and exploding out when running precision routes. This is something that many, many, many bigger receivers have an issue with. Guys like Megatron and VJAX are just freaks of nature.

      Do you remember Terrance Tolliver from LSU? He was similarly built to Streeter and while at LSU, he was a beast and a hell of a vertical threat receiver, but IIRC he wasn’t even drafted and I think he spent some time on Detroit’s practice squad. Good collegiate receiver because of his physical ability, but he just couldn’t run the entire route tree and in today’s NFL receivers need to be able to run the entire route tree and run it well.

      I’d love to be dead wrong about Streeter, but I don’t see him hanging around for too long. Especially if guys like Mellette, Thompson, and David Reed continue to impress.

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