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7/25 Notebook


PM Notes

After two days of rookie-only practices – with the exception of a few select veterans – the entire Ravens team hit the McDaniel College practice fields for the first time Friday.

Head coach John Harbaugh held what was called an "administration day" on Thursday before the team suited up in full pads, ready to work the following morning.

With 6,625 fans in attendance at the first session – the second-highest non-scrimmage ever at McDaniel for Ravens camp – the energy level was high.

"It's exciting when we first walked out," said Harbaugh. "As a matter of fact, Ozzie [Newsome] and I were up working out this morning at about 6:30, and there were fans that had started to show up already."

That excitement carried over to the players, who were happy to be back in the purple and black.

While it is still very early in training camp and many Ravens admitted there would be an adjustment period to life back on the gridiron, the familiar crunches of pad-on-pad, or helmet-on-helmet were enough to get the blood pumping.

"It feels good every time you get back around the guys and put the pads on again," said LB Ray Lewis. "It's just about getting back at it and the freshness. I think we had an all right day, and every day is going to get better. I think that overall, we had a pretty good day as a team. Today, we were just getting the kinks out."

While Harbaugh had his team doing live drills in the morning session, which ratcheted the intensity up even in a cool July breeze, the Ravens scaled down to padded shells in the afternoon.

But even though no real tackling was scheduled, the physicality and faster pace remained.

"No one is crying or whining about it being too hot or the tempo is too fast; everybody is engaged at practice," said WR Derrick Mason. "Everybody is running to the ball. Everybody is excited to be out here, and that's what you want in a football team. That's what makes a championship football team.

"Guys coming out and guys getting started – all 80 guys coming out and really playing the game because they love the game. That's all you can ask. Right now we're having a lot of fun and I don't see it stopping."

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

  • Quarterback Joe Flacco made several pinpoint passes and seems to be getting the timing down with his receivers. He hit Justin Harper over the middle in-stride for a 15-yard gain, and Harper was off to the races through the secondary.
  • Safety Haruki Nakamura had a monster practice, intercepting Flacco once and Troy Smith another time. The rookie almost grabbed another one that just bounced before he could get his hands under it.
  • Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata really began to blow up the middle of the pocket during 11-on-11 action. He also played volleyball with one of Smith's passes on second down. It was the second pass he's batted all day.
  • Harbaugh continued his tradition of getting involved with the action, donning a yellow skull cap and running back to play personal protector for Mason during a special teams portion.
  • Lewis, Smith and running back Allen Patrick were the final players off the practice field after signing autographs for fans leaning against the separation fence. It was Lewis' second tour of duty on the day, as he signed until all fans were accommodated after the morning session, along with Mason, Ed Reed and Willis McGahee.

For Saturday:The Raven will practice at 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. on Saturday.

AM Notes 

Willis McGahee would like to have his 2008 training camp debut back.

Arriving a few moments after Friday's morning practice began, No. 23 stepped into the backfield, took his first handoff of the summer from quarterback Troy Smith and promptly bobbled the exchange.

Later, McGahee put the ball on the turf again during a full-team session, and the flub was recovered by linebacker Ray Lewis.

Both plays are uncharacteristic of the running back – he only fumbled four times in 294 attempts last year – but they did serve as wakeup calls. McGahee knows that he still has some work to do to get back into peak form.

"No doubt about it," he said when asked if there was any rust from a long offseason. "I had a fumbled exchange with the quarterback, and I had a fumble. I know I'm rusty. I know I'm not going to come to training camp and be on point. That's hard, and I've got to work to that level.

"That's what training camp is for," continued the 26-year-old. "We hadn't really been practicing in pads. Anybody can run around out there without pads on, but when you put the pads on it's a totally different story."

After a stellar 2007 campaign that saw him make the Pro Bowl as an AFC alternate, McGahee is looking to prove that he belongs in the All-Star game outright. One could argue that he deserved the honor in his first year as a Raven, as McGahee rushed for 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns.

Admittedly, McGahee feels like he left some yards on the field by not finishing long runs, with only five attempts earning 20 yards. Some detractors even questioned his conditioning, citing how the six-year veteran would routinely come out of games on third down.

McGahee uses those critics as motivation to achieve the personal goals he's set for the coming season.

"The goal for me is to stay on the field," he explained. "I didn't stay on the field as much last year. I was coming out on third downs, but that's last year. This is a whole new year, and my goal is to finish the long runs and get touchdowns."

McGahee, who reported to McDaniel College at 236 pounds (four more pounds than his typical playing weight), will have many opportunities to show that he can be an every-down back in training camp.

New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's prolific offense features versatile running backs, as seen by LaDainian Tomlinson's record-setting seasons under Cameron in San Diego. Already, McGahee is being utilized similarly, having lined up as a receiver in addition to his regular load at running back.

"This is the first offensive coordinator I've had that uses the tailback this much," McGahee said. "In our OTAs [Organized Team Activities], he ran the heck out of me. I wasn't used to that, so that's a good thing. He brings a lot to the table for everybody, not only the running backs, but fullbacks, tight ends and receivers."

It may have been an unfavorable beginning to training camp for McGahee, but he's already put those mistakes in the past.

Looking forward to another shot at going back to Hawaii for another Pro Bowl berth, McGahee also wants the Ravens to return to what he called a "winning tradition."

Here are some other notes and observations from Friday morning:

  • Players that did not practice included cornerbacks Chris McAlister, David Pittman and Fabian Washington, safety Ed Reed, wideout Demetrius Williams, tight end Daniel Wilcox, and fullback Le'Ron McClain.

Head coach John Harbaugh said that those players are not healthy enough to practice.

Cornerback Samari Rolle was absent because of the untimely death of his father. Many Ravens players and coaches are flying down to south Florida to attend the funeral on Saturday. Linebacker Terrell Suggs was also not in attendance because he still has not signed his franchise tender.

  • The Ravens had two very special guests on the field, as the recently retired Jonathan Ogden and former center Mike Flynn came out to watch. Ogden, wearing a floppy-brimmed Ravens hat, couldn't resist stepping in with the offensive linemen to provide some coaching points.

Offensive line coach John Matsko even had the future Hall of Famer get down in his stance to show Oniel Cousins the proper technique in drive-blocking.

Flynn was doing some research on the team for several upcoming radio appearances in the Baltimore area. The longtime Ravens center also said he would be providing the color analysis for Towson football in the coming season.

  • There were several notable plays during one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs.

Derrick Mason showed his veteran guile when he went against new Raven Anwar Phillips, leaving Phillips standing on a comeback route and then juking past the cornerback with a nifty wiggle.

Corey Ivy represented for the secondary, picking off Troy Smith on a diving interception intended for Patrick Carter. Ivy then ran over to the fans and tossed the ball to a lucky recipient.

Smith bounced back on the next play, dropping a perfect pass over the shoulder of Matt Willis as the receiver got into the end zone.

  • There were a few injury scares, as linebacker Dan Cody went down clutching his knee and had to be helped up. Cody would later return.

P.J. Daniels crumpled on one play midway through practice and sat out the remainder, but his injury isn't known. Cory Ross also seemed to hurt his left arm. Ross had it wrapped in ice at the end of the session.

Attendance at the morning session was totaled at 6,625 fans, the second-largest non-scrimmage event at McDaniel for Ravens camp.  The largest occurred on Aug. 10, 2006, with an attendance of 6,900.

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