Offense To See More Tricks in '09

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The Ravens really haven't run any trick plays yet this offseason, as the current passing camp is generally focused on installation of the basic offense.

But Troy Smith knows they're coming.

Smith's unique physical tools allowed the Ravens to utilize a slew of surprise plays last year, from the option to Smith's memorable 43-yard bomb to starting quarterback Joe Flacco.

So while Smith, Flacco and the rest of the team continues to work through minicamps with the bare bones of the playbook, it will only be a matter of time before offensive coordinator Cam Cameron delves much deeper.

"They haven't disclosed anything yet, but I'm sure Cam and [Hue Jackson, quarterbacks coach] are going to do an incredible job putting something together for this year," Smith said Wednesday. "Our whole focus with the offense is what we practice could get used in a game, so when it is called, we're going to execute the plays, no matter how wacky they are."

Jackson has been impressed with Smith's development in only his third season. The former Heisman Trophy winner was poised to compete for the starting job one year ago, but a tonsil infection and blood clot in his lung during the preseason opened the door for Flacco to take the helm as a rookie.

Once Smith recovered, however, Baltimore's coaching staff knew it had to get the best athletes on the field, no matter where they fit.

After weeks of practicing different formations with Smith and Flacco in at the same time, the Ravens debuted their experiment in Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders. Smith lined up under center, Flacco split out wide, and the games began.

Smith tried running the ball himself, pitching to a back on the option, and in the third quarter, he found a sprinting Flacco on the left sideline for the long-distance connection.

Jackson is ecstatic about having those weapons at his disposal.

"I'm so excited about our quarterback situation here, obviously with Joe, but also with Troy," Jackson explained. "Here's a young man that one year ago had that illness, but for him to come back and keep fighting and competing to work his way back to No. 2, I'm very excited for his development as a football player. He's had a great camp so far.

"We always have something [extra in the playbook] because coach Cam is a mad scientist and is always putting something up on that board. Whatever players we have, we're going to use them."

The Ravens boast multiple other versatile talents that can get into the mix.

Receiver Mark Clayton tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason in Week 13, and he also blazed to the end zone on a 42-yard double reverse in the season opener.

Fullback Le'Ron McClain was the Ravens' leading rusher in 2008 and essentially became the starting tailback by the end of the campaign.

Even former outside linebacker Edgar Jones, who converted to tight end last year, has seen time in minicamps at H-back.

"Cam always talks to us about not just being a receiver, quarterback, linemen or a tight end, but being an athlete," Clayton stated. "There is no telling what is going to go in the offense and what we're going to come up with. I call him the mad scientist.

"I am excited to see what we do, because he's comfortable with us, and we know how he approaches things."

Any backup's dream is to be a full-time starter, but Smith looks at his contributions – as limited as they may be – in a positive light.

"It's fun out there," he said. "You've got some guys that are supposed to be fullbacks that can give you a whole season at tailback. You've got backup quarterbacks playing a little bit of receiver and doing other things for the team.

"It's anything you can do to make the team successful."  

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