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One Big Move


As Ravens rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans trickle into a modest Best Western in Westminster, Md., many front office members are hoping to present a facility that resembles a castle.

More to the point, one particular castle-like building in Owings Mills.

It takes months of planning to move team operations 20 minutes north of Ravens headquarters for what amounts to be a 26-day summer camp.

Headed by vice president of operations Bob Eller, a squadron of 18-wheel trailers transported load upon load of athletic gear, medical supplies, weights and even furniture, creating makeshift offices at the hotel, along with practice fields, training and equipment rooms at McDaniel College.

Equipment manager Ed Carroll has everything he needs to outfit the entire team. Vice president of medical services and head trainer Bill Tessendorf can get his work done in a familiar setting. And, the Ravens don't have to commute to get a solid lift because they've installed their own weight room in McDaniel's student recreation center.

"We try to replicate what we have in Owings Mills from the coach's and player's perspective," said Eller, who has been in the league for 25 years. "There are a lot of people involved, from moving video operations for coaching film to routing internet access for front office staff.

"It's basically trying to create a mini-version of what we typically work with on a daily basis."

This year marks the 13th time the Ravens have ventured to McDaniel, the entire history of the franchise. Much of that comes from owner Steve Bisciotti, who fondly recalls regularly visiting Westminster as a child and watching the Baltimore Colts practice.

With an enrollment of just 1,600 students, the buzz on campus grows considerably around this time of year when the school is overrun by Baltimore's faithful, many of whom plan their summer vacations around Ravens camp.

Eller thinks that the connection with the fans is one benefit to holding the event at an off-site locale. Those in attendance can watch the early development of their favorite team at one of the many practices open to the public, and most stick around afterwards to claim an autograph of their favorite players.

In addition, stepping away from their home base for the month-long tradition gives the Ravens a chance to focus solely on football.

"First of all, it's a coaching decision [to have training camp in Westminster]," Eller said. "But we're so close to our facility, and we can still be in the metropolitan area for our fans.

"Also, this is good for us, because there is a place for the players to rest. There's a way to have all the meeting rooms, dining rooms and sleeping areas all in one location. It's all about football."

Even though Eller said he's been involved with training camps since 1991 as a member of the Cleveland Browns, the longtime Raven marvels at the magnitude of such an undertaking.

Eller estimates that it took nearly 20 truckloads to clear out the Owings Mills facility, but the fact that the Ravens have had a strong base of department heads since moving to Baltimore in 1996 makes everything transpire smoothly.

"There are a lot of moving parts, but we've pretty much had the same group for so many years, so everybody knows the drill, so to speak," he explained, citing examples such as director of football video operations Jon Dube and vice president of information technology Billy Jankowski.

The Ravens took enough supplies to function nearly 100 percent out of Westminster before breaking camp on Aug. 15. Then, what took those months of preparation will be broken down in a single day.

"Needless to say, that is a massive push for us," Eller concluded with a laugh.

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