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All Hands on Deck


Head coach John Harbaugh said he liked the energy of the Ravens' first four training camp practices. But now that the veterans have arrived in Westminster, that intensity will increase to another level.

For the past two days, the rookies and a few selected veterans had a chance to get acclimated to what life will be like once the entire team hits the field later this week.

"Rookie camp is a little different because it won't be as fast pace as what you will see come Friday," Harbaugh noted. "I think the rookies are practicing each play like they should."

And while the rookies know things are about to change, a real practice – complete with full pads and live hitting – could be something of an eye-opener to some.

"We were getting individual attention, so when the vets do get here, I'm not sure they'll have a step on us because we'll be just as caught up as them," said running back Ray Rice. "They're veterans, they've learned the stuff. But the offensive perspective is definitely good for us right now because of the new system.

"For a guy like me, and the other guys, getting the reps was really crucial."

Veterans reported to the Best Western near McDaniel College throughout the day, with physicals scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and an all-hands meeting at 7:00.

As the more-tenured Ravens hauled their bags out of their cars and greeted one another, the climate seemed to change over training camp. "Rookie Camp 2.0" was over, and it is time to see if the young prospects can really hang with the big boys.

"When they get here you know that it's going to be cranked up a little more, the intensity and everything else that comes along with training camp," Rice stated.

Many of the rookies were actually anxious to see the rest of their teammates.

Third-round draft pick Tavares Gooden, who will share a room with fellow linebacker and Miami alumnus Ray Lewis, thought the rookie-only time gave the group an opportunity to bond with each other.

"You begin to bond with your teammates and guys who are upperclassman are just like we are," he said. "I was talking to Troy [Smith], and Troy went to Ohio State. I went to Miami, but there's still a bond there, and I have fun with him. There's a lot of people that you kind of develop a relationship with here."

They're going to need to stick together, too.

Just like high school freshmen, the rookies can expect some surprise hazing to come in the following weeks, along with the requisite duties of carrying helmets and shoulder pads off the field for their elders.

The young Ravens have admitted to the players they idolized growing up, such as Lewis, Ed Reed and Trevor Pryce. Now that they share a locker room and a huddle, they'll have to prove they can play like those heroes.

"I think everyone's a little more intense," said Tom Zbikowski, a fifth-round selection. "Our OTAs [Organized Team Activities] and mini-camps were definitely pretty intense, even if they were slow-paced. I think we got a pretty good taste of things there, and now we have to step it up a notch as we're getting ready for the season."

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