Harbaugh: Ravens Excited For Camp

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The Ravens have certainly made their share of headlines in recent weeks.

Former quarterback Steve McNair was shot and killed by an extra-marital girlfriend on the Fourth of July.

Nearly 10 days later, the franchise's second-leading receiver, Derrick Mason, suddenly decided to retire after a stellar 12-year career.

That was the same week the Ravens made Terrell Suggs the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history with a six-year, $63 million contract.

As if that wasn't a busy enough offseason, Baltimore again stole the front page with the signing of Drew Bennett last Friday, which was nullified when a knee injury led him to an unexpected retirement decision.

While many would consider the routine of training camp to be a welcome answer to the latest ups and downs the Ravens have experienced, head coach John Harbaugh doesn't see it quite like that.

"I wouldn't consider it in those terms," Harbaugh said. "We're excited for training camp. We had a nice break.

"Guys have been working on their own. Everybody that I have talked to is excited to go to training camp. I know the coaches feel that way, and the players feel that way."

The Ravens' rookies, quarterbacks and a large amount of selected veterans descended on Westminster, Md., Monday for physicals and an initial round of team meetings.

Two practices are scheduled for Tuesday – 8:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. – with the limited group before all other veterans report on Wednesday.

And with each practice, Harbaugh has big plans for his club.

"We want to have the best training camp in the NFL, and that starts with tomorrow," Harbaugh said. "That's how it was last year, that's how it's going to be next year, and that's how it is this year. We're excited to get going, and we'll just go about the business of practicing football."

In spite of the current events that could be considered distractions, the Ravens are focused on building on an 11-5 campaign in 2008 that led to the AFC Championship.

In addition, Harbaugh can build on the standard he created last year, when he was entering his first-ever training camp as a head coach.

There are challenges.

Rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher has yet to sign a contract, something Harbaugh thinks "should happen pretty soon."

There are nagging injuries to several key players, such as tight ends Todd Heap (back) and L.J. Smith (groin), wideout Demetrius Williams (Achilles' tendon) and tackle Adam Terry (knee).

And, the Ravens could further address the receiver position.

Harbaugh is wont to look past those relatively minor obstacles.

"Everything that happens to our football team, every bit of adversity we face, every bit of success we face, is an opportunity to get better," noted Harbaugh. "So, I don't care what it is – who's here, who's not here – we don't care about any of it. It's irrelevant except to the extent that we can become a better football team today, and that's what our guys are going to be focused on.

"We're not talking about any specific players or anything like that. Everybody knows the situation. We've got a job to do today, our guys can't wait to go to work, and that's it. And that's what training camp is about."

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