Ravens primed for Harbaugh’s first practice

Street Talk Ravens primed for Harbaugh’s first practice

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OWINGS MILLS — As the Baltimore Ravens hold their first minicamp today at their training complex since hiring coach John Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome’s curiosity is piqued.

The Ravens’ general manager has watched Harbaugh work the hallways and the weight room since replacing Brian Billick in January. Now, Newsome will get to observe the first-time head coach and his staff, including offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, putting the players through their paces on the field as they begin a voluntary, three-day camp.

"I think the coaches are looking forward to the players and the players are looking forward to the coaches, and it’s going to be fun for me to go out and watch other people teach and motivate our players," Newsome said. "I’m looking forward to watching how John interacts with the players on the field, how Cam does, the development of Rex and bringing in the other coaches. It’s going to be as fun for me to watch the coaches as the players."

Today’s practice is closed to reporters as well as Saturday’s session.

Although the Ravens will have three minicamps, including a mandatory, full-team workout next month, this marks the first of the Harbaugh era.

Harbaugh has already joked that he may need to calm himself down as he hits the field.

So far, that enthusiasm has been welcomed by his players.

"Coach Harbaugh has brought energy and passion to the building," cornerback Samari Rolle said. "It’s just a different feel, an upbeat feel. It’s totally different than it was around here before."

Cornerback Chris McAlister, who said he’s fully recovered from a knee injury that forced him onto injured reserve last season, said he has met with Harbaugh a few times.

"I sat down with Harbs and he’s a great guy," McAlister said. "I like the direction we’re heading in."

It’s unclear if middle linebacker Ray Lewis will be there. Traditionally, Lewis has worked out on his own and attended just a few minicamp practices.

After an injury-plagued season, quarterback Steve McNair is expected to be under center as he tries to regain his health and his standing as the leader of the offense. McNair has significantly increased the amount of time he spends at the team’s headquarters this offseason.

Last season, McNair lost seven fumbles and threw four interceptions with just two touchdown passes. He battled groin, back and shoulder injuries before undergoing surgery to repair the rotator cuff in his non-throwing shoulder in December.

"When people count Steve out, that’s when he plays the best," Rolle said. "I expect Steve to come back strong."

A major emphasis this offseason has been getting the players familiarized with new position coaches, playbooks and philosophies.

"It all starts with knowing each others’ names and learning the different personalities of the new coaches," linebacker Bart Scott said. "I think they’ll come in and bring some great changes."

Following a 5-11 campaign where Baltimore nose-dived into last-place in the AFC North one year removed from a franchise-record 13-3 campaign, Harbaugh and the Ravens are extremely motivated to reverse that trend.

"As a first-time head coach, I’m sure he feels he has a lot to prove as well as us and show people that we’re not this flash in the pan," Scott said. "We get an opportunity to prove that we’re more like the 13-3 team than the 5-11 team.

"People will kick you when you’re down, and you can’t wait to get back up and prove them wrong. We never want to go through what we went through last year again."

NOTES: The Ravens are scheduled to meet with Indiana wide receiver James Hardy today. At 6-foot-6, 217 pounds, the converted basketball player is one of the most imposing receivers in the draft. … Former New England Patriots offensive guard/center Gene Mruczkowski visited the Ravens this week as well as former Miami Dolphins and New York Jets offensive lineman Wade Smith. 

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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