Ravens heading into final minicamp

OWINGS MILLS - Attention to detail. No footballs discarded on the ground. Quarterbacks seamlessly going through their progressions and reading the defense. That would be the offensive coaching staff's ideal vision of what will transpire as the Baltimore Ravens begin their final minicamp this morning. It's the equivalent of a dress rehearsal before training camp opens next month in Westminster.

Following a passing camp where a few glitches occurred in the form of a botched quarterback-center exchange and numerous dropped passes, the Ravens are looking for improvement in this last formal team gathering of the offseason.

"We made a lot of little mistakes this week, and it's time to correct those mistakes," Ravens quarterback Chris Redman said. "We want to end off on a solid positive note and have some good timing. Everyone is really confident about what will happen."

In an effort to simulate the obscured passing lanes that occur in full team drills, Ravens coach Brian Billick inserted defensive linemen during the last 15 minutes of passing camp last week.

For an offense that ranked 27th in the league in passing offense last year by averaging only 177.9 yards per contest, the thinking is that going forward from that low point will mean testing itself at every opportunity.

"I just wanted to get them a sense of that next step," Billick said. "They've been in kind of a sheltered environment."

Training camp at McDaniel College is anything but sheltered, or air-conditioned.

It's an environment that will include: Dawn wakeup calls. A series of meetings and weightlifting sessions. Two daily practices in the August heat. Four preseason games. Heightened competition for starting assignments, including an impending quarterback battle between Redman and rookie Kyle Boller, as well as roster spots.

"Most definitely by having these last two weeks to get more knowledge of the playbook and protections, this next camp will go much better," said Boller, a first-round pick from Cal. "I'm going to try to learn the offense first and foremost. I've had a couple of weeks to learn it and I still don't know it all. It's going to take time."

Because this is a mandatory camp, everyone is expected to attend, including linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware along with franchise player Chris McAlister.

McAlister has yet to sign his one-year tender of $5.962 million, the average of the top five cornerback salaries, and negotiations for a long-term contract extension are likely to resume after July 16.

With the majority of the players, except for those in NFL Europe, on the field for the next four days, it's also a sneak preview of how the starting lineup might shape up.

"Next week's camp is really a dry run for everybody to recognize that we're about a month away from this," Billick said. "The attention in the meeting, getting up early in the morning, weightlifting, breakfast, extended meeting.. So, you hit the training camp at a dead sprint knowing that's what the pace in practice needs to be."

NOTES: Corey Fuller will work at free safety this week while Gary Baxter shifts back to cornerback. … Rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the 10th overall selection, said he expects to practice after missing time last week with back spasms. Meanwhile, Suggs is attempting to drop about 10 pounds after bulking up to 260 pounds before the draft.


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