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08/11 Notebook


There was a constant chatter in the Ravens' secondary during Monday's morning practice, but it seemed to be coming from only one voice.

Upon closer inspection, that voice came from cornerback Frank Walker.

During coverage drills between wideouts and defensive backs, Walker was the star, shadowing Matt Willis' quick double-move before loudly yelling to no one in particular, "Were you serious when you called that stuff on me?"

Later, he broke up a pass attempt over the middle, went over to the sideline and spun his helmet on the ground in front of his laughing teammates.

After the session, head coach John Harbaugh offered two characteristics that Walker brought to Baltimore when he signed as an unrestricted free agent March 14.

"A competitor and a barrel of laughs," Harbaugh said of the cornerback. "He's a good football player. Frank Walker has had a tremendous camp."

Fans can almost see the shiny metal braces glinting in the sun under Walker's helmet. As one of the newest Ravens, he relishes the opportunities he's been given.

With Chris McAlister sidelined due to a knee injury and Samari Rolle only recently rejoining the team, Walker is playing with the first-string and showcasing his hard-nosed style.

"Physical and brute," Walker said when asked to classify himself. "Whatever type of guy you call it, I haul it. I'm never going to complain about the call. None of that. If a play's made and it's on me, it's on me. It's never on the defense.

"I've got broad shoulders."

And, Walker has the ready-made catch phrases that speak to his playful personality, something that fits well into the Ravens' high-energy cast of characters on defense, including McAlister, Bart Scott and Ray Lewis.

"This is probably the best move I could've ever made with Rex Ryan and all the guys in his crew," noted Walker. "That's a great crew. We have a K.I.L.L. philosophy – keep it likeable and learnable. That's definitely working out for me."

The 27-year-old entered the league with humble beginnings as an undrafted free agent out of Tuskegee in Alabama. Because of injuries to key first-teamers, Walker unexpectedly went on to start seven of 10 games he played with the New York Giants as a rookie, posting two interceptions and 32 tackles.

Since then, Walker hasn't regularly cracked the starting lineup, instead focusing on special teams and contributing as a nickel and dime back. After four years in New York, Walker signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2007, where he posted 12 special teams tackles and remained a valuable reserve.

While he understands that the starting spots are all but wrapped up in Baltimore, especially with the offseason addition of Fabian Washington, Walker is happy to accept his role as a Raven – wherever that may be.

"This is definitely a fresh start," Walker said. "Any new start is a fresh start. I'm not mad with the way anything went in Green Bay. I had a great deal out there. I played the nickel. I played the dime. I played wherever they needed me.

"It was a great thing for me, but I'm definitely loving it here."

As Walker keeps his teammates laughing, they also appreciate what he can bring to the secondary.

"The guy talks trash all the time," said wideout Derrick Mason, who is regarded as the mouthpiece of the offense. "What you've got to do with Frank is you've got to talk trash back, because if you talk trash back, you get him out of his game a little bit.

"But, he's a good player. I like the way he plays. He talks a lot of trash and he backs it up, too. If you're not mentally tough, he can turn the game quick. So I like to have him on my team."

At Ravens' camp, Walker always does his best to keep things exciting by playing hard and having fun.

It's the only way he knows how to assimilate to his new home.

"Every time I [used to] cut the TV on, I'd see the Ravens' defense," Walker summed up. "I'd see enthusiasm. I'd see people happy, smiling, everybody running to the ball, everybody dapping each other up and making it a great thing.

"I figured, what place would I rather be? I had a couple of teams offer me the exact same thing the Ravens offered me. I would much rather be a Raven."

Here are some more notes and observations from Monday's practices, the second of which focused on special teams:

  • The Ravens are still banged up, but it looked worse than it really was Monday morning, as Harbaugh enacted the "Over 30 Club" rule. That meant linebacker Ray Lewis, kicker Matt Stover, cornerbacks Corey Ivy and Samari Rolle, wideout Derrick Mason and defensive end Trevor Pryce all sat out the session.

Still, there were others over 30 that are still injured, such as linebacker Gary Stills (knee), defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (knee), cornerback Chris McAlister (knee) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (foot).

The list of Ravens not practicing reads: cornerback Fabian Washington (arm); linebackers Dan Cody (foot), Tavares Gooden (leg) and Robert McCune (leg); tackles Jared Gaither (ankle) and Adam Terry (ankle); tight end Todd Heap (calf); widoeut Demetrius Williams (leg); and defensive tackles J'Vonne Parker (undisclosed), Kelly Talavou (shoulder sprain) and Haloti Ngata (knee).

Contributing to he woes at offensive tackle, Mike Kracalik left practice early with head trainer Bill Tessendorf. Kracalik returned to the field in the afternoon session.

  • Baltimore's quarterbacks made good use of the hard count, drawing the defense offsides four times. But, the offense wasn't perfect, as it was flagged for a false start, too.
  • Running back Cory Ross took a few big hits, even though the practice was labeled as a "thud" session. Ross was popped into the ground by linebacker Bart Scott once, then Edgar Jones got in a shot, followed by Jarret Johnson.
  • Tight end Adam Bergen made several tough catches in traffic. The 6-foot-4, 267-pounder is making a name for himself at a position of need for the Ravens.
  • Quarterback Joe Flacco had a ball slip out of his hands when he was attempting a throw, which was tipped by safety Jim Leonhart and picked off by Derrick Martin.

But, the interception could have been a result of a wet ball. The side of the field Flacco was on seemed slick, as morning dew caused Troy Smith and Kyle Boller both to slip dropping back from center.

  • In case fans didn't see it, Maryland native – and self-professed Ravens fanatic – Michael Phelps name-dropped the purple and black yesterday after he won his second gold medal. When Phelps actually won his first gold, he tossed his bouquet into the stands to his sister, who then threw a special present down to Phelps.

The gift? It was a Ravens jersey emblazoned with Phelps on the back and 08 as the number, signed by the entire team.

Owner Steve Bisciotti made the entire episode happen after he heard that the Olympian was moving back to Maryland after the Bejing games, partly so he could follow his favorite squad.

When Phelps was interviewed by Andrea Kremer, the swimmer told a story of how everyone was asking to see "it" meaning the gold medal, but he pulled out his jersey thinking that's what they wanted to see.

Good luck, Michael, from all of the Ravens.

For Tuesday:The Ravens will practice at 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Both sessions are full-squad practices. Linebackers, tight ends, running backs, safeties and kickers do not have to lift weights, which means they will be available for autographs. All other positions will have limited accessibility.

A previous version of this article reported that Derrick Mason intercepted Joe Flacco.  It was actually Derrick Martin. regrets the error.

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