What We Learned: Rookie Camp

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The silence marking the halls of Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., is owed to the end of rookie camp, giving all players more than a month off before they must return for training camp.

And even though it was just rookies – and a select few first-year veterans – around the building this week for the three-day session, that doesn't mean one couldn't learn some things about the team.

With a focus on the rookies, here is a look at some answers that came out of the spring's final minicamp:

1) Michael Oher is breaking out of his shell.

This is more of an off-the-field observation. It is evident that the once soft-spoken Oher is growing into his role on the Ravens. It might not come across in interviews with reporters, or even in the huddle, but the first-round draft pick is more readily joking around with his teammates and members of the Ravens' front office.

Perhaps he just feels more comfortable in the freestanding metal-frame locker that sits in the middle of the locker room with all the other rookies. Perhaps he can finally find his way around the Ravens' training facility.

It isn't like Oher was a sourpuss earlier this offseason. He was a genuinely nice guy who was always willing to talk. Still, Oher's wide smile and interaction with the rest of the team show that he is relaxed in his situation.

On the field, Oher's been hard at work to lock up the starting right tackle spot. Through all of the minicamps, Adam Terry has been too banged up to rightly challenge him, and Oher's taken advantage of his opportunity. It is likely Oher will hang on to the position because of his athleticism, strength, mean streak and his burning love of competition.

2) Lardarius Webbcould be an asset in the return game.

After a stellar career as a college safety, Webb is making the transition to cornerback at the NFL level, and even he admits that it hasn't been easy. The mindset between the two positions is fairly different. Basically, a safety can do more roaming, while a corner must stay close to a moving wide receiver.

But with the depth the Ravens have at cornerback, Webb could make the biggest impact returning kicks.

He was a dynamic athlete at Nicholls State, and not just on defense. Webb is the only player in NCAA Division 1 history to be named Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Player of the Week in a single season.

Playing one game as a quarterback, Webb rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on only eight carries. As a junior, he took a punt 96 yards for a touchdown, 2 yards shy of an NCAA record.

During rookie camp, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg had Webb fielding punts, something the cornerback did in college. Webb had no problem softly catching the ball and quickly accelerating upfield, causing some reporters watching practice to praise his potential.

Webb is a tough battler and is not the type that would fold after a few hits returning a kick – a key trait to the position.

3) The undrafted free agent to make the team will be…?

History has shown that the Ravens will keep at least one undrafted rookie free agent on their active 53-man roster, but it is unclear exactly who that will be this year.

Safety K.J. Gerard has recently garnered publicity with his playmaking ability. Not a practice goes by without the Northern Arizona product grabbing at least one interception, and coaches always love a player that has that type of nose for the football.

The biggest question surrounding Gerard is his size. Gerard is a wiry 187 pounds, so it will be important for him to prove he can hit in training camp when the pads are on.

Three others may have better chances, especially considering the Baltimore's logjam at safety.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, kicker Graham Gano and fullback Jason Cook are all prime candidates.

Ellerbe is in the mold of Bart Scott, someone that can rush the passer from outside and can also take on blockers at middle linebacker. The Georgia product dealt with a nagging knee injury last year, which probably contributed to his free agent status.

Gano can simply kick his way onto the team by beating out Steve Hauschka in what has been a tight contest. On Tuesday, Gano drilled a 60-yard field goal that would have been good from 64. And, it was at least the third 60-yarder of the offseason. That competition will likely last until the final preseason game.

Finally, Cook's fate lies in the hands of his coaches. The Ravens already have Le'Ron McClain as their primary fullback, but he will likely still get some carries in Baltimore's three-headed attack. Last season, the Ravens had McClain follow the bruising Lorenzo Neal. Will Cook be this season's version of Neal?

4) Everyone is ready for some vacation.

As evidenced by the rush of players to pack their bags and finish meetings on Wednesday, this next month is a welcome respite before the start of a long campaign.

Head coach John Harbaugh purposefully made his schedule like this so players could recuperate and be fresh for training camp. Many teams choose to begin their Organized Team Activities later in the spring, which can lead right into August.

"This will be the big recovery chunk. This will be an opportunity, the vets for six weeks, the rookies for five weeks, to go away on their own for a little bit," Harbaugh said. "I'm sure they'll work hard. You don't put the kind of work in they've put in the last four or five months and then all of a sudden let it go away. And if they don't, we'll know about it pretty quick.

"We trust them, we believe in them, and we think they'll come back emotionally, spiritually fresh and ready to attack training camp."  

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