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7/31 Notebook


PM Notes

The Ravens have a stable of young cornerbacks all competing against each other for a limited amount of roster spots, and the youngest is making a case for himself.

At 23 years old, Derrick Martin is one of the youngest Ravens in the locker room - 12 rookies on the roster are currently older than him.

Possessing a wide smile and a loud mouth that is constantly chattering in the secondary, one can see why his teammates say he's just like a little kid.

But don't call Martin immature. Entering his third season, the fun-loving cornerback is dedicated to showing he's all-business when it comes to football - even if he is whooping it up on the field.

"That has always been part of my game since a young age," Martin said. "I think it helps me play better and stay intense on the field. When we go full-contact, those are the times I really want to be out there. When you play football, you should hit somebody, and that's my game. I like to hit, fly around and have fun."

The former sixth-round draft pick out of Wyoming is getting more and more opportunities to contribute in training camp.

The absence of Samari Rolle, who is still attending to family matters, has bumped former Oakland Raiders first-rounder Fabian Washington into the starting lineup opposite Chris McAlister. Free agent addition Frank Walker and Corey Ivy have rotated at nickel back, opening a place for Martin to slide in as a second-team corner.

Martin knows he will face a stiff battle from fellow 2006 classmates Ronnie Prude and David Pittman for one of the few remaining roster spots, and his experience playing in every game last year doesn't necessarily give him an advantage.

The Denver native started three contests, logging 26 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defensed, adding 17 special teams tackles (fourth-best on the team).

But, Prude and Pittman also have seen action in big games, both from scrimmage and on special teams.

"I'm trying to just make a play every time I'm out there," Martin explained. "We've got great cornerbacks in here. There are no rookies. Everybody's had some game experience, which makes it real hard to separate yourself. But, when I do get my reps, I want to play the best I can.

"The thing you have to do is remember to always play like a Raven."

Martin has experienced the joy of having his wife, Alexa, give birth to his son, Derrick Martin III, this offseason, but there were still some negatives to deal with.

Last month, he was charged with alleged possession of marijuana at the Cleveland airport and could be tabbed with a minor misdemeanor citation (essentially a $100-$150 ticket). Previous to the still-pending case, Martin has never been in trouble with the law or the league during his NFL tenure and remains a regular fixture in the Baltimore community.

Martin is looking to put his troubles behind him and move forward with his family and football. He thinks that a commitment to the Ravens' offseason conditioning program, coupled with a deep knowledge of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's playbook, will only help him excel.

"The best thing is that I know the playbook so well at this point that I can just play football," he said. "I can go out there and do what I love to do without thinking as much."

And when he isn't thinking too much, the young corner lets his athletic ability, naturally boundless energy and sharp tongue take over.

"I'm 23 now, so if I would have redshirted, this would be the time when I would come out of college," Martin said. "I feel like I'm ahead of the curve with my age, and my body is just as young as the rest of them."

Here are some more notes and observations from Thursday's afternoon session:

  • One couldn't draw much from the hour-long late practice, as the Ravens basically worked on installation of both offense and defense against scout teams.
  • Injured tackles Adam Terry and Jared Gaither made their first public appearances on the field wearing large boots on their sprained ankles.  Kyle Boller did return with a new set of shoes after leaving the morning practice early only wearing one cleat.  Also, tackle Oniel Cousins and cornerback Chris McAlister were absent after playing in the a.m.
  • There was a small portion of the first-team defense against the second-team offense, and wideout Yamon Figurs made a nice one-handed grab of a Troy Smith pass.
  • With Ray Rice as the only healthy running back on the roster, fullback Le'Ron McClain has seen extra action carrying the football and catching passes. McClain looked sharp Thursday, cutting quickly and showing a good burst. Not bad for a 260-pound steamroller.
  • The Ravens celebrated Military Day, as more than 50 members of the armed forces watched the practice in a reserve area. When the session was over, those attending the event - many of whom wore their uniforms - got to come on the field to hear a special address from Ray Lewis and then break down the huddle with the players.

Many Ravens mingled on the field for nearly 30 minutes afterwards to sign autographs, pose for pictures and listen to stories.

  • A final note from Thursday morning… Rohan Marley watched practice from the sideline. Does that name sound familiar? It should. Marley is the son of reggae pioneer Bob Marley. But many don't know that he was also a linebacker at the University of Miami. Marley was cheering on fellow Miami alumns Tavares Gooden and Ray Lewis.

For Friday:The Ravens have a full practice at 8:45 a.m. and a special teams practice at 2:00 p.m. Fans, please note that linebackers, tight ends, running backs, safeties and kickers have to lift weights directly after practice Friday, so they will not be available for autographs.

AM Notes: New Tackle Plays With Starters

Mere hours after working out for team officials and signing a one-year contract, tackle Chad Slaughter attended his first Ravens offensive line meeting Wednesday evening.

Little did he know that he would be playing with the starters the next morning.

In his purple and black introduction, Slaughter was quickly inserted into the lineup when right tackle Oniel Cousins went down with an apparent leg injury. With Cousins' right knee wrapped in ice, Mike Kracalik shifted back to his original position at right tackle, opening up a spot for Slaughter on the left.

It was a far cry from what Slaughter was doing earlier this week, but the Ravens could waste no time in acquiring another offensive tackle after losing first-stringers Jared Gaither and Adam Terry to ankle injuries.

"I was actually home laying concrete when they called me up," said the Dallas native. "The wheels are spinning 100 miles an hour, but I'm just here to help any way I can."

Slaughter, 6-foot-8, 340 pounds, has played in 43 career games with the Oakland Raiders, including seven starts at left tackle last season.

Still, no previous experience could totally prepare Slaughter to move so quickly from pouring driveways to protecting a quarterback's blindside.

"I felt like a rookie," Slaughter admitted. "I haven't been in pads in a minute, so I was having trouble remembering plays, as is usual for the first day. But, overall, I thought it went good."

The Ravens did, as well. For an unexpected debut, Slaughter held his own against a tenacious group of Baltimore pass rushers, none of whom let up on the new Raven.

"He moved around pretty well," said head coach John Harbaugh. "It's good to have him in here, and he is a guy who's been in this system. He's played left tackle in the NFL before, and the way rosters are set up now, there are some good players still floating around out there.

"I know everybody's got guys like Chad on their short list and in some ways, maybe things happen for a reason. We're fortunate to have him in here."

Slaughter drew on his experiences regularly facing two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess in Oakland to compare to the likes of Antwan Barnes and Edgar Jones.

"You don't find very many slow guys in the NFL, anyway," Slaughter said.

Slaughter, out of Alcorn State, was originally signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie free agent in 2000, but spent some time with the New York Jets before joining the Raiders' practice squad late in the 2001 campaign.

He was out of football last year after being cut by Oakland after training camp.

According to Slaughter, months of hard work in concrete makes one dream of the gridiron.

"It will make you hungry again," he explained. "You know, [laying concrete] is hard work too, it's just that you're not in competition with anyone. But, it's a pretty easy transition. I've been doing this for a while."

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

Don't think the Ravens are settled at tackle with Slaughter's signing. Harbaugh said after practice that the Ravens' personnel gurus are continuing to seek candidates for depth at tackle.

Per Harbaugh: "Well I think if we find a guy, then yes [we would consider bringing him in]. And Ozzie (Newsome, general manager) and George Kokinis (director of pro personnel) are working hard, but you've got to find the right guy in the right circumstances to bring him in."

The Ravens were also negotiating with former Kansas City Chiefs lineman John Welbourne Wednesday, but the nine-year veteran did not like what he was offered by team officials, as he was reportedly seeking guaranteed money.

"John [Welbourne] would have been a good fit for us but it wasn't a good fit for him right now," Harbaugh continued.

While linebacker Edgar Jones returned to the field after missing yesterday, the Ravens still had a daunting injured list in addition to Terry and Gaither.

Wideout Demetrius Williams (Achilles), tight end Aaron Walker (unknown), kicker Matt Stover (unknown), linebackers Dan Cody (foot) and Gary Stills (unknown), defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (MCL) and J'Vonne Parker (unknown), running back P.J. Daniels (unknown), fullback Justin Green (unknown), and defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (unknown).

Many players suited up but hung around on the sideline, such as safety Ed Reed (shoulder), tight end Daniel Wilcox (foot), running backs Cory Ross (unknown) and Allen Patrick (unknown), cornerback David Pittman (foot) and wideout Patrick Carter (shoulder), defensive tackle Justin Bannan (unknown), and tackle Joe Reitz (shoulder).

Quarterback Kyle Boller left practice early with his shoe off, while fullback Le'Ron McClain seemed to have a slight limp after emerging from a pile.

Running back Ray Rice got the gross majority of the reps out of the backfield because Willis McGahee stood on the sideline with a sore left knee. The rookie out of Rutgers doesn't mind the heavy workload.

"I'm excited to just have the opportunity," he said. "I'm kind of used to this, because at school, I got the ball about 30 times a game and rarely came out. I know what my role is going to be during the season, where I won't be playing as much. By working myself out and getting the reps now, I'll be faster and have my feet under me when the season gets here."

The 5-foot-8, 205-pounder continued to impressed. When the Ravens worked on red zone situations, he took one handoff on the 20-yard line, was swallowed up at scrimmage, but still managed to turn it into a 5-yard gain. It was all Trevor Pryce could do to make an ankle tackle and save a breakout.

The pass of the morning was another one that probably wouldn't have even been attempted. Joe Flacco dropped from center, but was given no time to throw due to a Prescott Burgess "sack."

Still, Flacco uncorked a long, high-arcing bomb downfield to a racing Justin Harper, who just turned his head slightly to the left to guide the ball in. The crowd erupted in a loud "Ooooohhhh!"

The playful verbal jousting between quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson and linebacker Ray Lewis was at an all-time high. Lewis cat-called Jackson after tipping a pass that cornerback Fabian Washington intercepted, loudly asking, "Why is your head down, Hue?"

Lewis ignored Jackson when he returned the favor later after a great Mark Clayton catch.

Even though the offensive line put in a respectable showing, the reality of the Ravens' pass rush still won out. Baltimore's quarterbacks were hurried for much of the morning, prompting linebacker Bart Scott to shout, "Joe Flacco's got two Mississippi!" to rile up the defense.

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