Ravens Notebook

OWINGS MILLS -- It was a rough year for the Baltimore Ravens' pass rush last season despite the resurgence of Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. The Ravens wound up with only 27 sacks, the lowest total in franchise history as Suggs led the team with 11 sacks followed by 5 1/2 from Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged that he'll be looking for an additional pass rusher through free agency, but he's also of the belief that the Ravens will generate more heat on opposing quarterbacks this season regardless of any more acquisitions. Newsome figures that the return of cornerback Domonique Foxworth from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and drafting big, fast Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith should give the front seven more time to get to the quarterback. "The best way to affect a quarterback is to get people in his face, to hit him," Newsome said during a conference call with season ticket holders. "We realize that, but one of the ways you can affect a quarterback is you can force him to hold the ball for .2 or .3 seconds longer if you've got good coverage. "I think that's where having Jimmy and getting Domonique back, along with the guys we already have, maybe with those guys in coverage, we can force the quarterback to hold the ball." Plus, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson is healthier this year after dealing with nagging shoulder and back injuries over the past year. And the Ravens are still hopeful that outside linebacker Sergio Kindle will play football again after missing his rookie season with a fractured skull. "One thing that we were not able to get done last year is Jarret Johnson had some injuries," Newsome said. "He had to rehab to get himself ready to play football. He was rehabbing injuries. I think we will see a better pass rush out of Jarret Johnson, and as I've so stated, we are very, very optimistic that Sergio has an opportunity to get to the field. We just don't know when."



CAMERON TO STAY ON THE SIDELINES: Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron prefers to do his work from the sidelines. He believes the vantage point helps him get a better feel for the game and allows him to interact directly with the players. According to research from the Ravens' public relations department, only five out of the league's 32 play-callers called plays from the press box last season.

Out of the top 10 scoring teams, only Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey worked from the coaches' booth. And none of the top 10 offenses in terms of yardage had a play-caller working in the booth. Cameron has no plans to change his approach next season.

"No, I think Cam is going to continue to be down on the field," Newsome said. "He likes to be down there with the action. Some people like to call it from up in the box, but he likes to be down there. He gets a chance to look the players in the eyes when they come off the field." Newsome expressed confidence that the offense will improve because of the increased involvement of coach John Harbaugh and the time the offensive staff has put in since the end of the season. The offense faltered during a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers as turnovers, penalties and dropped passes were among the self-inflicted wounds.

"The reason why I say we're going to be better from an offensive standpoint is that I've seen all the work they've done this offseason refining the offense," Newsome said. "One of the things we have in our head coach is .. he grew up in the game, coaching special teams and coaching on the defensive side. And you can see over the course of the three years he's been here, the progress that both of those elements of our game has gotten better.

"Now that he has that the way he wants it, now he can come over to the offensive side. What happens when you give a guy that understands defense coming over as a head coach to the offensive coaches, he can sit there and he can talk with them and say, ‘No, no, no. If I'm the defensive coordinator, I can defeat this.' So now they get another set of eyes."



NEWSOME LEARNED FROM BELICHICK: Newsome has always been a fixture at every practice, attending each session and keeping a watchful eye. He wants to know his football team better than any other.

The Hall of Fame tight end learned the value of self-scouting from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick when the Super Bowl winning coach was running the original Cleveland Browns. Newsome rose in the organizational ranks after working for Belichick in coaching and scouting. "I think everybody has to find their niche where they're very much at ease in their position," Newsome said. "I know Ted Thompson from Green Bay, he came up as a scout, so he likes to be on the road. And I know Phil Savage, when he went to Cleveland, he came through as a scout, so he liked to be on the road. But, I came through as a player. I spent time on the road, but for the most part, I've been in locker rooms and I've been at practice.

"I was taught, by Bill Belichick, at a very early age that scouting begins on Sunday. You need to know your football team. The only way you get to know your football team is you've got to be able to watch them at practice, I watch the practice tape, so that's why I do that. That's my niche. But the only way I can do it, I have to trust [director of player personnel] Eric [DeCosta] and [director of college scouting] Joe [Hortiz] and the scouts and their ability to go out and do their job."



QUICK HIT: The Ravens' public relations department won the Pete Rozelle Award this year after nearly winning the award several other times. They had been finalists in all but two times over the past decade. They were voted the award by the Pro Football Writers Association. The award is given to the NFL PR department that "consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media." This is the first time the Ravens have won the award.

The department is run by senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne.


Ravens Insider Top Stories