Ravens Respect the Surge*The team is sporting special camouflage hats to support U.S. troops.
Head coach John Harbaugh explained that the hats were given to every member of the club as a tribute to the soldiers serving in Iraq and beyond.
Harbaugh spent four days in the Persian Gulf this summer visiting with thousands of American troops as part of the NFL-USO Coaches Tour. He was joined by New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and former coaches Bill Cowher and John Gruden.
The group spent time meeting troops, signing autographs and talking football. But to Harbaugh, the biggest reward was hearing the inspiring stories the came from the soldiers.
He also noted how much he learned from Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq and Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., the Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps in Iraq.
"We gave all of our players, a couple days ago, this hat, and we talked a little bit about what has been accomplished in Iraq by our troops over there," Harbaugh said. "Just on behalf of the NFL, on behalf of the Ravens, on behalf of our players, we want to thank General Odierno, General Jacoby and all the troops in Iraq – especially the ones who are Ravens fans.
"We really appreciate you guys for what you've done," he continued. "NFL players respect military personnel more than anybody. I think it's because of the courage. I think it's because of the sacrifice that they make and the courage that they display every single day in what they do. The Ravens sure appreciate what's going on over there."
Read Coach Harbaugh's USO Tour Blog »
Webb ChallengedThe Ravens went at rookie Lardarius Webb on Monday
Ravens rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb was definitely tested on Monday to mixed results.
During seven-on-seven drill, Webb gave up a long touchdown pass that elicited wild cheers from the crowd.
But the next two times, Webb answered the call.
On the touchdown, wideout Justin Harper was able to get just a step past the Nicholls State product as quarterback Troy Smith unleashed a beautiful 30-yard rainbow that dropped over Harper's shoulder in the back corner of the end zone.
Webb almost redeemed himself later when he stepped in front of an underthrown pass from Joe Flacco to Demetrius Williams, but he bobbled the potential interception.
Then, Webb broke up a dart from John Beck to Ernie Wheelwright in the end zone.
Webb 2 – Ravens quarterbacks 1.
Head coach John Harbaugh said he can expect more of challenges from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
"We challenge our corners out here," Harbaugh said. "Domonique [Foxworth] has been challenged. Frank [Walker] has been challenged. Now, Lardarius has been challenged. Cam goes after them – that's kind of his mentality.
"Lardarius, had one caught on him today and defended all the rest. Rookie, veteran, whatever it is, you've got to be ready to play. We're going to keep challenging them throughout the rest of this camp."
Special Teams Practice Notes*What went on at the Ravens' first special teams-only session of training camp?
*The Ravens were back out at McDaniel College for their first special teams practice of training camp, and we didn't get a chance to further evaluate the kicking situation.
Neither Graham Gano nor Steve Hauschka kicked at all, basically because special teams coach Jerry Rosburg focused on punt protection and assistant Marwan Maalouf had the gunners working on blowing past blockers.
Maalouf had one player hold a blocking pad and a gunner take a run at him. The gunner then had to explode through and past the block with - in Maalouf's words - violence.
I noticed how forceful Kelley Washington, Derrick Martin and Marcus Smith were at this drill. Justin Harper also did fairly well. Lardarius Webb needed some work, however. He slowed up before he hit the pad with a bent arm and shoulder.
The area I paid close attention to was the practice field nearest the stands, where a group of offensive linemen – most of whom were not required to be at the special teams session – had an impromptu workshop with coach John Matsko.
Starters Jared Gaither and Michael Oher were there, as were Marshal Yanda, Oniel Cousins, David Hale, Tre Stallings, Joe Reitz and Robby Felix.
It wasn't hard-hitting one-on-one work, more like fundamentals and technique at half-speed.
Matsko and assistant offensive line coach Andy Moeller really stay on the young players, and their development has shown on the field.
Goal-Line Drills PackedThe Ravens were very competitive Monday morning in a goal-line scrimmage.
The Ravens' morning practice was just about as intense as you'll get from training camp.
Competition was at a high level, which drew a smile across head coach John Harbaugh's face.
"We had good intensity, and had good intensity yesterday, too," Harbaugh said. "We had a short-yardage scrimmage yesterday. We had goal-line and short-yardage scrimmages again today. We had a move-the-ball-drill that was thud. It gets competitive, and that's how our guys like it."
For the layman, scrimmages feature live-hitting and "thud" is basically a rough pat without bringing the player to the ground.
The goal-line scrimmage was also a big hit with the large crowd in attendance.
The starting defense met the starting offense with the ball at the 1-yard line. You could feel the excitement in the air, as Ray Lewis began pumping up the crowd by jawing at the offense. Both Willis McGahee and Ray Rice got two tries.
McGahee scored both times, running around the right side once and the left side another. McGahee has been playing hard each rep he gets.
The Miami product took his lumps for not reporting to last year's camp in optimal shape, but he's looking fast and powerful when he carries the ball.
Rice didn't have much luck on his first opportunity from the 1, as he was stuffed up the middle. He redeemed himself by following that with a leap over the pile to reach for the score.
When the second-team offense came in, quarterback Troy Smith nearly tossed an interception to tight end Edgar Jones. Cornerback Evan Oglesby sat on the route and got a hand on the ball.
Then, running back Jalen Parmele went around the left end, but was stopped when he tried to cut it back inside. Parmele probably would have scored if he just kept running to the pylon. Fullback Jason Cook delivered a good block to erase linebacker Jarret Johnson from the play.
When the backups finally did get in, on a rush off the right guard, Kelly Gregg was outraged.
"No. 72 did not report!" he playfully complained to the officials, claiming offensive lineman Bryan Mattison needed to report as en eligible receiver.
Here are some other notes and observations:
There is a special teams practice in the afternoon, where we'll monitor the kicking and returner situation.
Morning Practice ParticipationTerrell Suggs heads the list of players not in Monday's morning practice.
The Ravens took the fields at McDaniel College on a cool Monday morning missing several key players.
Most notably of which is linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs.
Suggs was seen walking around the team hotel in Westminster, Md., with a protective boot on his left foot. The Pro Bowler did not participate in Sunday's p.m. session, but did not seem to suffer any significant injury in the morning practice, just a minor foot injury. Most likely, it is a precautionary measure and not serious.
Meanwhile, tight ends Davon Drew (foot) and L.J. Smith (hamstring) did not practice but watched from the sideline, as did defensive lineman Will Johnson (right leg) and receivers Yamon Figurs (foot) and Thomas White (undisclosed). Figurs is on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (toe), wide receiver Mark Clayton (hamstring) and defensive tackles Justin Bannan (undisclosed) and Lamar Divens (undisclosed) did not practice and were not on the field. Divens did begin camp on the PUP list with hip flexor issues.
As far as the absent starters go, rookie Paul Kruger will start for Suggs and Demetrius Williams for Clayton.
The Ravens worked on fending off the blitz early in practice, and the offensive line did a solid job of giving Joe Flacco just enough time to get rid of the ball. The play of the session was a surprise bomb to Demetrius Williams down the right sideline. Williams had to concentrate as he turned for the ball, but he used every bit of his 6-foot-2 frame to snatch it above Fabian Washington's head.
One defensive lineman did manage to penetrate the backfield on backup Troy Smith, but when he didn't try to knock down the pass, head coach John Harbaugh admonished him. "We want to practice batting the ball, so if you can get it, do that!" Harbaugh said.
More to come throughout the day.
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