Camp Notes Day 2: TRAINING CAMP 2006

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From the sound of the very first horn to set today’s practice into motion after stretching exercises, the Ravens were full of the energy and enthusiasm that was missing from yesterday’s practice.  The thousands on hand certainly felt the same vibe as they enthusiastically cheered for the many crowd pleasing moments provided by the Ravens this morning.
Early during practice as I observed the fan favorite one on one drills while standing along side Eric DeCosta and Mike Florio from, it was quickly apparent that today would be a day for offense.
Both Steve McNair and Kyle Boller threw the ball well and in most of the one on one match ups, each gave their receivers an opportunity to make a play on every throw.  After Demetrius Williams made a very nice catch over Evan Oglesby on a throw from Kyle Boller, Brian Bratton answered beating Corey Ivy on a go route for a score from McNair.  Having seen enough from his torched secondary unit, coach Dennis Thurman exclaimed, “We better cut this [expletive] out!”
Once again during the drills, the importance of chemistry and rapport was on display when McNair connected with a blanketed Derrick Mason.  Samari Rolle was all over Mason yet they tandem managed to find the smallest of windows to make the connection work.  Eric DeCosta commented that, “Derrick Mason is a great NFL player.”
That thought lingered in my mind for a moment and I let it settle.  I found it interesting that Eric chose the words, “NFL player.”  I interpreted that to mean that Mason just continues to improve and develop his game at the NFL level.  Hard work and dedication to one’s craft are certainly rewarded especially when combined with talent.
Brian Billick certainly enjoyed the practice and as opposed to yesterday when he said the morning practice “sucked”, today Billick proudly stated that, “We understood what we needed to get out of it. This morning was excellent."
Excellent would be a good term to describe the way Demetrius Williams adjusts to a poorly thrown pass.  He seems to have a knack of contorting his body in such a way while in air that squares him up to the ball, enabling him to use a pair of reliable mitts to snare the throw.
After practice I asked Gerome Sapp how he felt things were going and I asked him to compare today’s session with yesterdays.  He said, “We got our legs under us today and we knew we had to step it up.”  Sapp also said that his focus is on fully grasping the defense and his responsibilities in it.
The 7 on 7 drills and full team drills were spirited as well.  Brian Billick sensing the focus and intensity reminded his team to “take care of each other.”
A couple of notable defensive plays…Corey Ivy after being beaten briefly by Brian Bratton managed to pop the ball from Bratton’s hands up into the air where it was snagged by Evan Oglesby.  On another play, B.J. Sams picked off a Drew Olson pass thrown slightly behind Rob Abiamiri.  The pass was placed on Abiamiri’s left hip while on the run.  When it popped up, Sams took it and returned it for a score.
Later in 7 on 7, Kyle Boller pumped faked a pass out into the flat and then delivered a fastball on the money to Brian Bratton who worked his way back to the ball between two defenders. The play stuck out in my mind because it seems that Boller has struggled to find a rapport with the back up players.  That will come in time but it further emphasizes the need for repetition and understanding each other at the NFL level where execution of plays needs to be so precise.
For all you fantasy footballers, the red zone 7 on 7 drills were all Todd Heap.  The star TE was the target of choice on 3 of the 7 plays run inside the red zone, all completions and at least one for a score.

Other notes: Special teams also managed some time this AM and the one thing that appears likely for the Ravens in 2006 is improved special teams from a very fine collection of athletes who are looking to show up on tape each practice.  Cory Ross who has been impressive working with the offense, dropped a punt today after struggling with cross winds yesterday.  He does seem to have captured the attention of the coaching staff however…If the Ravens can get Mark Clayton one on one with the football in his hands in open space, watch out.  His open field shiftiness is very reminiscent of Barry Sanders…Sam Koch although not as impressive today as yesterday, clearly is distancing himself from Leo Araguz who at this point looks to be not much more than just another leg in camp.  For those of you who were frustrated by Dave Zastudil’s inability or unwillingness to go for the coffin corner on punts, the same can’t be said about Koch.  He’s shown pretty decent accuracy with directional kicks so far…Dan Cody looks strong, healthy and though I keep looking for signs of him favoring his knee, I’ve yet to see it.  When the Ravens turn it up a notch on Monday, it will be interesting to watch this impressive athlete who has captured the attention of many Ravens insiders.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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