What Did We Learn in Camp?

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While the Ravens' mandatory minicamp last weekend only lasted three days and five practices, that wasn't too short of a time frame to learn some things about the team.

The session may not have yielded any definitive answers, but it did offer insight into Baltimore's 2009 squad.

Here are three questions that were addressed from Friday to Sunday:

How will Michael Oher adapt to the NFL in his first professional practices?

The first-round draft pick wouldn't admit to any nerves during the minicamp, even though he was saddled with a lot of responsibility right off the bat.

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Oher stepped in at right tackle when Willie Anderson and Adam Terry could not participate because of knee injuries. And because Jared Gaither and Joe Reitz were the only other two tackles that were active, Oher got a heavy workload.

"I was excited," Oher said. "I wasn't nervous to be here. I was excited to be here and excited to be in the NFL. Being out there, going up playing against the 'ones' and things like that, now I know over the summer and OTAs what I've got to work on and the things I've got to do to start."

Baltimore plans on holding a competition between the Mississippi product, Anderson and Terry throughout the offseason to see who will be protecting Joe Flacco's right side on opening day.

Judging by Oher's performance over the past three days, the prospect of seizing that starting spot is not too big of a task.

What is the update on the receiver position?

The Ravens are content with the wideout group currently on the roster, with the exception of potentially signing one of a trio of veteran free agents - Jerry Porter, Tab Perry and Kelley Washington.

Strong practice sessions on Saturday and Sunday established Washington as the front-runner to earn a contract.

But of the receivers already in-house, head coach John Harbaugh is counting on someone to stand out behind Derrick MasonMark Clayton and Demetrius Williams.

Young talents such as Marcus Smith and Justin Harper have looked promising thus far, and the Ravnes also want to learn more from rookie free agents Isaiah Williams (Maryland) and Eron Riley (Duke).

"We love our wide receivers," said Harbaugh. "We have good players playing wide receiver. I guess people can write and believe what they want, but watch them play. Put on the tape.

"But, just like every other potion on our team, they're going to try to improve – improve every spot by improving the players, individually and all as a group."

Who will start next to Ray Lewis at linebacker?

Bart Scott's departure left some big shoes to fill, and it was believed that there would be a battle between Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain.

And even though McClain seems to be succeeding in his transition from outside linebacker/defensive end to middle linebacker, it's pretty evident that Gooden all but has the first-string designation locked up.

Gooden has fully recovered from a hip injury that landed him on Injured Reserve during his rookie campaign and was running sideline to sideline chasing down ball carriers all weekend.

"Tavares looked fast," Harbaugh explained. "To me, he looked like a linebacker. He was really patient on runaways, stayed square, played downhill, stayed on the backside of the play. It wasn't just running around like crazy. He played fast as a linebacker, which is good to see."

  • And now, here are three questions that Ravens fans will monitor through the offseason:

Will the kicker battle between Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano ever really be a competition?

The early returns might suggest no, but the Ravens are going to be patient with this position.

Hauschka is the incumbent, looking to improve on the role of kickoff specialist he played last year. The second-year player has kicked well thus far, hitting a few 45-yarders during practice. He came up short on a 40-yarder Sunday, but that was into a strong gust of wind.

Meanwhile, Gano, the 2008 Lou Groza Award Winner out of Florida State, is still adjusting to pro coaching. He had a pretty rough start to camp, but when special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg worked with him more closely, Gano began splitting the uprights regularly from 40 yards and beyond.

"Graham is a very talented young guy that I've been very impressed with in the brief time that I've been around him, because he's a really good athlete, and I think he demonstrated that in college by doing both [kicking and punting]," Rosburg said.

Stay tuned to see who is booting the football best during the preseason.

How will the running backs shake out?

Le'Ron McClain led the Ravens with 902 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Still, that doesn't mean McClain will be back toting the rock full-time in 2009. Because Lorenzo Neal was not re-signed (he recently inked with the Oakland Raiders), McClain could revert to his original role leading ball carriers.

McClain has stated that he accepts the potential change, but will still make the most out of every attempt he can take from Willis McGahee and Ray Rice.

"I'm going to play it by ear," said the 260-pound McClain. "When I touch it, I'm going to show them I can still do it whether I'm at fullback or not. I'm going to do my best to get Ray and Willis more yards."

McClain got a few chances over the weekend because McGahee was sidelined with a knee injury.

"I know I'm the starting fullback and I'm the second halfback, too, behind Ray with Willis not out there right now," McGahee said. "When I get my chance again, I'm going to take advantage of it. They know what I can do."

Who's hurt, and how serious?

The Ravens were missing a multitude of key players for camp, as evidenced by the various red mesh jerseys that were so prevalent on the sidelines.

On the offensive line, Anderson and Terry were joined by starters Marshal Yanda (knee) and Ben Grubbs (ankle).

Tight end L.J. Smith (sports hernia) did not play, while Mason (shoulder), Clayton (undisclosed) and Williams (ankle) were not available.

Defensively, cornerbacks Fabian Washington (neck/shoulder), Chris Carr (shoulder), Frank Walker (shoulder) and Samari Rolle (groin) were also held out.

Everyone is expected to make a full recovery, but Mason's timetable is the most uncertain. When speaking to the media on Sunday, he hinted that there is a chance he could miss training camp after getting surgery to repair his scapula and labrum.

"The only thing I can say for certain, well not even for certain, but if everything continues to progress the way it has been, I'll be ready for the first game," he said.

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