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What a difference a week makes. Last week at this time we were soaked in sweat and lamenting the 110 degree heat index. Today was a crisp and picture perfect day.
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday the Ravens looked bored and the practice had all the excitement of a trip to the Motor Vehicles Administration. Today, the practice was spirited much more upbeat and generally more productive.
First the walking slightly wounded…B.J. Ward was held out of practice still suffering through migraines, something that privately might bring a smile to the face of Daniel Wilcox. Ward took a couple of unnecessary shots at Wilcox last week. Rob Abiamiri skipped practice but was along the sidelines working on that sore hamstring with Bill Tessendorf. Haloti Ngata for the third consecutive day wore his white No. 92 jersey, shorts and an Ace Bandage around his left knee while observing his unit up close throughout the morning. David Pittman is still down with a hamstring injury and Brian Rimpf’s hamstring injury may be serious enough to sideline him for the season. The team has not yet confirmed that. With each missed practice, the probability of Clarence Moore remaining on the PUP list increases.
The practice was a bit different than previous practices in that it resembled a preparatory workout for this weekend’s upcoming preseason game against the Giants. Building on the scout team format set in motion a bit yesterday, the No. 1 units lined up to loosely script a plan for Friday. Here’s how the No. 1 units looked:
Offense: WR Clayton, TE Heap, LT Terry, LG Mulitalo, C Flynn, RG Vincent, RT Pashos, WR Mason, QB McNair, FB Green and RB Lewis.
Defense: LE Gregg, NT Franklin, RE Pryce, LB Suggs, LB Scott, LB Lewis, LB Thomas, CB McAlister, S Reed, S Landry and CB Rolle.
On the first play against the scout team, Jamal Lewis ran for 10 yards behind Vincent and Pashos. On the second play and serving as proof that Jim Fassel reads my blog ;-), Steve McNair hit Derrick Mason on a 45 yard post for a TD. Mason made a nice play and adjustment on a somewhat shaky toss from McNair.
The following two plays were a bit of a surprise – screens! One run by McNair was thrown out into the left flat to Mike Anderson and the following from Boller was a fake screen left to a screen right with Musa Smith on the receiving end. Neither looked very crisp.
TWO MINUTE WARNING: During the 2 minute drill run by Boller, the offense was unable to produce any points initially as the drive which started on their own 35 stalled after a third and 5 incompletion to Darling from the defense’s 40. After resetting the table and placing the ball on the defense’s 40, first and ten with 1:11 to go, Boller was able to get his team deep into FG range producing 3 points with 0:05 remaining. The big play during this span was a 15 yard strike from Boller to LaTendresse.
WE’RE LIVE: During live scrimmaging the first team offense starting from the defense’s 35 began the sequence with a run up the middle by Mike Anderson behind a nice zone wedge for 8 yards. The play featured a nice seal block from Todd Heap. On the following play, Heap beat his man on a post corner but the pass was overthrown by McNair after which the veteran QB held his head in disgust. He wasn’t alone as Brian Billick exclaimed, “That’s a touchdown! That should have been a touchdown!” Later on in the sequence McNair hit Daniel Wilcox on time from 17 yards out for a score in the same left corner where he overthrew Heap.
Boller and St. Pierre came on to finish up the live action. Sypniewski caught a couple of balls from Boller deep in the red zone. One was well behind the TE who made a nice adjustment to make the catch and the other in the end zone where he beat Robb Butler who was clearly overmatched in size. Boller did a nice job of placing the pass where only Sypniewski could make a play on it. Sypniewski had a solid afternoon, hauling in a 20 yard strike to the sideline later in practice against the first team defense. On the play, Chris McAlister jumped a route and ignored sideline responsibility in the zone. Reed was unable to get to the sideline in time to make a play on the toss from Boller. Reed reminded McAlister, “[You] can’t jump that – box!”
Earlier in scrimmaging, Sypniewski was the recipient of this camp’s second hardest hit courtesy of Gerome Sapp. On a crossing route, Sapp dropped the TE and the TE dropped the ball.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS: Gerome Sapp is developing some nice timing on his run blitzing and has been disruptive in the backfield. Look for this on Friday. Something else to look for on Friday is a fake dive to a reverse and vice versa. The QB’s have done a nice job of ball handling with the play and the dive off the fake reverse has worked very well…Reserve receivers rebounded from a case of the drops yesterday as Brian Bratton (returning to practice after sitting out yesterday), Romby Bryant and Trent LaTrendesse all contributed. Bryant made a nice catch in the end zone following St. Pierre towards the sideline. St. Pierre was flushed out of the pocket and eventually Bryant hauled in the pass from 18 yards out. Bryant also made a few nice catches in traffic, one after being hit from behind by Landry and into Reed before hitting the turf while maintaining possession.…Corey Ivy has the nickel positioned nailed down as of this moment and my guess is Ronnie Prude is the dime. Not only has Prude been effective in coverage, he’s also shown some sure tackling during live action as well…
Pushups were in order today as DB’s Landry and McAlister dropped sure interceptions. McAlister’s was the worse drop of the two. He brilliantly read Boller on a pass to the right and positioned himself for clear sailing to paydirt. He just forgot the passenger. Landry after being beaten badly by Wilcox earlier in practice rebounded to make a nice play defending a pass intended for Sypniewski…Mike Smith has played very hard throughout camp and is a stone cold hustler. His spot on the team is secure at this point.
The punters looked to be rather even again today although both hit the ball better and deeper than yesterday. Araguz and Koch averaged about 50 yards per punt today under great kicking conditions. Koch was a bit better with his directional kicking driving returners to the sidelines…Ronnie Prude made a very nice play and was singled out by special teams coach Gansz for hustling downfield, finding the football, catching it with ease and pinning the opponent inside the 5…Aubrayo Franklin played well, sliding down the line and tackling Musa Smith for just a two yard gain while fighting off Chris Chester. He also batted down a pass…Towards the end of practice, AD batted a ball up in the air during situational goal line plays then picked it off and took it the distance the other way for the score – a great example display of his unique athleticism…
Tomorrow’s practice is from 9:30 to 11:00 and word is it could be Jonathan Ogden’s first of the summer.