Postcard from camp: Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens practice on the campus of McDaniel College, formerly known as Western Maryland, in Westminster, an hour northwest of Baltimore. Like a lot of these training camp locations, Westminster is the quintessential small-college town in which the basis for all of the activity around the town revolves around the college. Except for late July through early August that is, when the Ravens take center stage.
Ngata, for his part, knows that his reputation is on the rise.
"I think the games at the end of the season really helped to put me on the map because everybody is watching the playoffs at the end of the season since there are only a couple of games left" said Ngata.
And what about the Hall of Fame talk?
"It is really humbling and an honor to even hear somebody say that, especially a teammate like Bannan," said Ngata, "But we already have a couple of Hall of Famers on that defense so I really just try to watch them and do what they do. I would love to get to that point some day."
The scary part for opposing offenses this year is that it sounds like the Ravens are going to turn Ngata loose even more in 2009 than in year's past. Whereas in past years there was a certain number of plays in which he would either be a decoy or take up blockers in order to allow other defenders to get free runs at the quarterback in
Flacco was impressive in practice throwing the ball to a bunch of receivers that are so green they could be vegetables. Even against the vaunted Ravens defense, Flacco was sharp, a good sign for the Ravens to be sure. Now that
The funny thing is that even though there was more brutal contact involved than in other places, the players seemed to be having fun and genuinely enjoying themselves. Whether it is the influence of
It was pretty strange to see longtime Minnesota Vikings center Birk in a purple uniform with out seeing the Vikings horns on the side. Stranger still to see him wearing No. 77 after 11 years wearing No. 78. Knowing Birk a bit, I suspected that he declined to purchase his old number from veteran swing tackle
"Actually, I just wanted a clean slate," said the six-time Pro Bowler, "New team, new city, new number. It's a fresh start."
Birk is probably not the same player athletically that he was a couple of years ago but he more than makes up for that with his football acumen and veteran craftiness. His leadership and knowledge of the game could make him the ideal complement to Flacco as his career progresses over the next couple of seasons. With pressure packages becoming more and more a part of defenses in the NFL on an annual basis, Birk is the calming influence in the middle not only for Flacco but also for all of the youth that flanks him on both sides of the line.
Oher, for his part, didn't want the word to get out about his impressive opening play.
"No, no, no, don't say anything about that," said Oher, "I don't want him to start to turn up the heat on me."
Like fellow first-round tackles
The Ravens are expecting big things this season from second-year running back
Rice continues to do everything that the Ravens have asked of him and he could supplant incumbent
• Mason coming back to the team was not a big surprise although at least one veteran player did not think he would return. The fact that he returned to the team earlier than even the most hopeful Raven observer expected is a boon for the franchise.
• Third-round pick
• New defensive coordinator
• We may see