Time to Continue Training


Now that the Ravens have finished their final camp of the offseason, it's time for the coaches and front office staff to take a little break from football.

For the players, though, the month-long break before training camp opens should be business as usual.

Following the last practice of rookie camp Wednesday, head coach John Harbaugh noted his high expectations for his Ravens when they report to McDaniel College in Westminster, Md. on July 21.

"We told them to be safe, take care of one another and take care of themselves," Harbaugh said. "They have to work hard on all the little things they need to work on and come back a better player than when they left."

Strong words considering how competitive the Ravens' rookie camp, three minicamps and 14 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) were throughout the spring, but Harbaugh's mantra rings true.

The Ravens tailor their offseason conditioning program to build a solid foundation for the rigors of training camp and then a full slate of regular-season contests. In order to continue on the upward curve to the apex of performance, players must continue their routine in the weight room.

The goal is to get to training camp at a point just below their best shape, so the pinnacle is reached once the real games begin.

"This is the time when I train the most," said linebacker Bart Scott. "This is where most people should be training. I don't want to be dropping going into camp; I'd rather be hitting a peak. Some guys train too early and burn out, but I've finally realized how much time I need for me to be at my peak. I hit a four- or five-week schedule and go hard."

Of course, there is time to fit in a small vacation, but those vacations are typically interrupted for a few hours a day to get in some weightlifting and a run.

"Even if I'm on vacation, I'll bring my training with me," Scott continued. "I usually take the last week off before camp and just do some maintenance stuff and stretching. I'm looking to hit camp full-stride, instead of falling off and trying to get back into shape in camp."

On the field, Harbaugh hopes players will continue to work on the football drills they've been taught in the past few months.

"Guys have got to work on their own," he explained. "There are skill-specific things at every position. Offensive linemen take pass sets and punch, and also work on footwork. Defensive backs, all the footwork and technique. Quarterbacks or receivers can throw or catch."

Harbaugh even expects two groups of Baltimore quarterbacks and receivers to convene at some point during the break - one each on the East and West Coasts.

Continuing that familiarity is crucial to retaining an offensive playbook that is brand new to everyone on the team.

While offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was optimistic the system was taking hold amongst the Ravens' playmakers, he'll make sure his charges perform their due diligence.

"After John's meeting, offensively, we get together and give them a timed test," Cameron said. "Put a little heat, a little pressure on them and see what they've retained. There'll be a significant number of guys that will know more when they get back than when they left."

Cameron was also quick to note that the purpose of the test - 12 minutes for skill players and eight minutes for offensive linemen - is not to lay blame, but rather, to see where he needs to mark a starting point.

The coordinator's message has been clear throughout the offseason, where he and other coaches were diligent in quizzing the players on the intricacies of the offense.

"You have to be able to stay in condition," said rookie Ray Rice regarding his plans moving forward. "You have to try and get as many reps as you can in your playbook. You have to learn your system and the football movements.

"You have to come back on the edge and ready to go."

The fact that Rice is already thinking that way shows the strong veteran leadership in the Ravens' locker room. It took Scott a few years before he came to a comfortable schedule leading in to training camp.

"This year and last year were the first times I realized that," Scott said. "When I was an undrafted free agent, I was just trying to make the team. Going through OTAs, I was stressed and working so hard. Once the season rolled around, it ended up burning me out."

So as Scott learned and Rice now knows, late June and early July are not a time for drinks with umbrellas hanging out - or at least an overabundance of them.

The Ravens are not necessarily calling this time a break. More like a continuation.

"After all, you don't want to be in your best shape in June," said Scott.

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