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08/04 Notebook


PM Notes: Rolle in Waiting

Samari Rolle couldn't wait to strap on his shoulder pads and get out on the football field for his Ravens training camp debut.

He just wasn't allowed.

Rolle suited up for Monday's morning practice - his first time in a Ravens uniform since his father, Harry, passed away two weeks ago from a heart attack - but was told by team officials that he needed to first pass a physical and a conditioning test consisting of a series of 150-yard shuttle runs.

While he was cleared to participate in the afternoon session, Rolle instead watched from the sideline and did some individual running on a separate field.

Now, the Ravens can truly begin the process of sorting through their stable of defensive backs to find out who their second and third corners will be.

In Rolle's absence, newcomer Fabian Washington, acquired this offseason for a third-round pick from the Oakland Raiders, has seen the most first-string reps alongside incumbent Chris McAlister.

"Great spirits, in terms of being back with his teammates," head coach John Harbaugh said of Rolle. "I think he's excited to [play]."

The Ravens are hoping that Washington and Rolle will battle for the starting job, with a cast of young prospects competing for the nickel and dime spots.

Teammates were happy to welcome the 11-year veteran back to the locker room after such a trying time.

Many flew to Harry Rolle's funeral in south Florida on owner Steve Bisciotti's private jet in support, including linebacker Ray Lewis, wideout Derrick Mason and safety Ed Reed.

"As a family of teammates, we want to be there for him, by any means necessary," Lewis said. "If it's just having a listening ear or giving a word of prayer, whatever it is, I think just to be there for him is what he needs the most."

Here are some other notes and observations from Monday's afternoon practice:

  • The Ravens missed Washington (undisclosed), McAlister (knee) and fellow corner David Pittman (undisclosed), in addition to linebackers Bart Scott (undisclosed) and Gary Stills (undisclosed), from the late session after they participated in the morning.
  • On special teams, coordinator Jerry Rosburg had the unit working on fielding squib kicks from the foot of Piotr Czech. The rookie free agent out of Wagner College struggled to get the right type of bounce a good on-sides kick has, but the Ravens' front line showed sound hands in recovering the football.
  • Wideout Patrick Carter and tight ends Daniel Wilcox and Aaron Walker seem to be close to returning to action. Each player ran individually on a side field.

The Ravens are anxiously awaiting to insert Wilcox back into the lineup, as tight end is a position that has seen its share of injuries in camp. In Wilcox's place, three-year veteran Adam Bergen is has jumped ahead of Lee Vickers as the second tight end behind Todd Heap.

  • The pass of the afternoon would have to go to Troy Smith, who executed two beauties back to back.

The first one saw Smith fake a reverse, which caused cornerback Ronnie Prude to hesitate slightly, allowing wideout Matt Willis to get two steps ahead of his defender. Smith hit the speedy Willis in stride, and it was clear sailing to paydirt.

When Ravens defensive coaches didn't like what they saw from the secondary, Smith ran the identical play with a fake reverse with rookie Marcus Smith as the target. This time, cornerback Derrick Martin came over the top to help, but Marcus Smith fought through the double coverage for the catch.

AM Notes: Smith Biding His Time

Troy Smith is biding his time at Ravens training camp.

Cool, calm and collected, the former Heisman Trophy winner isn't letting the media hype surrounding the quarterback competition in Baltimore get to him.

Speaking to the media after Monday's morning practice, Smith's chilled-out demeanor came through when he was asked about the possibility of starting the Ravens' preseason opener against the New England Patriots Thursday.

In line with his stoic pocket presence, Smith took a team-first stance.

"It doesn't matter," he said. "This is preseason. There's a lot still to come out of this. I know that we're pretty much going to get about the same amount of playing time. The cards will fall whichever way they do, and hopefully our preparation will get us a win."

Coming out of offseason minicamps, many thought Smith would be the starter at Gillette Stadium. Since then, there has been fluctuation based on day-to-day performance in each practice.

He has split equal training camp reps with the first team with Kyle Boller and Joe Flacco, a deliberate strategy according to head coach John Harbaugh.

At this point, even Smith acknowledges that he still has room to grow.

"We, as a team and as an offense, have so far to go," the second-year veteran explained. "My development is coming along but still, I've got a long way to go. This is an incredible offense and an incredible opportunity for this city. We're looking to win some games."

Harbaugh refrained from naming his starter in the early session, but did indicate he had a player in mind.

Even if that is Smith - who helmed two games last year, earning a victory in the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers - the Ravens are viewing the first preseason contest as more of an audition, not a finality.

To the former fifth-round draft pick, competing for a victory is more important that the depth chart this early in the year.

"We want to get a win," he said. "We're already being counted out in just a preseason game. That, at times, can work against you, but we're using that as a positive. We're going to step into the situation and go to New England and try to win that game."

Here are some more notes and observations from Monday's morning practice:

  • Cornerback Samari Rolle attended practice and is expected to play in the afternoon session. He has been absent from McDaniel College because of the untimely death of his father to a heart attack.

In Rolle's place, cornerback Fabian Washington had been starting opposite Chris McAlister.

"He had a 5:30 a.m. flight coming out of South Florida, and he was dressing for practice," Harbaugh said of Rolle. "Well, we had to give him a physical [first]. That's part of the process. He's got a couple things to do, but he'll be out there this afternoon. He's excited and ready to go."

  • Speaking of McAlister, the Pro Bowler had to leave practice early with what looked to be a sore knee. He had his right knee wrapped in ice during the latter half of the session.

Additionally, the Ravens missed tackles Adam Terry (ankle) and Jared Gaither (ankle), running backs Willis McGahee (knee) and P.J. Daniels (undisclosed), tight ends Todd Heap (leg) and Aaron Walker (knee), linebackers Edgar Jones (undisclosed) and Dan Cody (foot), defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (lknee) and wide receivers Patrick Carter (dislocated left shoulder) and Demetrius Williams (leg).

Wideout Mark Clayton, offensive tackle Oniel Cousins, defensive tackle Justin Bannan, running back Cory Ross and fullback Justin Green played after missing Sunday.

Pass of the morning goes to Joe Flacco, who lofted a perfect ball to Derrick Mason in the end zone during a red-zone drill. Mason jumped over Derrick Martin to haul in the touchdown.

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