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Training Camp Closes


After three weeks of training camp, the Ravens believe they are on the way to becoming the football team they want.

But there is still a long way to go.

With three preseason games – including Monday night against the New York Jets – and 16 regular-season games ahead of them, the Ravens know that the end of training camp is just the beginning.

"They did a good job within a long, really demanding camp. They took it one day at a time," said head coach **John Harbaugh**. "We all have our legs underneath us. We're in camp mode still. We've worked through this, and we'll have to work through Monday night and see how we do. But we've had the best camp we could have at this stage, and we just need to keep building on that."

The stay in Westminster, Md., was one week less than a year ago, when Harbaugh was a rookie head coach and took advantage of the NFL allowance of a new coach getting an extra week.

While Harbaugh agreed that he was more comfortable in this camp, which is based out of McDaniel College and the Best Western in Westminster, he also admitted that there are still many things the Ravens need to work on.

"It seems like there are new challenges every year," Harbaugh said. "Was it easier, was it harder or whatever? Every year gives you a different set of challenges. In some ways, every year is a new year. But, I knew where the cafeteria was, I knew where the fields were. That helped."

For the players, Sunday's camp break was a relief. They had been sequestered in Westminster for the entirety of camp. The only access to family comes via phone call or a brief meeting after practice in the VIP area.

"It's going to be different," running back **Willis McGahee** said with a smile. "We're not sleeping in a hotel anymore, so it's time to go home and lay in your own bed. I'm looking forward to it."

Even though some players are happy to finally end camp, a lot of good came out of their time at McDaniel.

Of course, there is the critical practice time where the team learns the basics of the playbook and their fellow teammates' tendencies, but perhaps even more important is the camaraderie that is built through August.

"Building a football team, to me, at this stage, is an around-the-clock process," Harbaugh noted. "It's the fact that they're together, but it's also the fact that we can have meetings at night, that they can walk back to the room, and they're sitting down with the young guy, and they're teaching the young guy the defense or the offense.

"It's wall-to-wall ball for whatever amount of time we're here, and we think that's valuable for building a football team."

For the veterans on the team, it was the second training camp under Harbaugh, which has a reputation to be more physically-demanding than others.

But after a year of the same team-first and hardball message, those players believe.

And judging from the action on the practice field during training camp, the younger players are buying in.

"It was a good camp, and I think having one year to go through it makes a big difference," said 13-year veteran **Trevor Pryce**. "This year, I think guys are lot more comfortable with the program and how it works. You can tell by the way we performed on the field. Going through it once is always a shock to the system, doing it different.

"Now it's old-hat. Now it's just football."

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