Ravens' rookies hit town for minicamp

OWINGS MILLS – This is Dwan Edwards' first trip to Baltimore, and the defensive lineman's initial chance to make an impression as a full-fledged member of the Ravens.

"It's sinking in that I'm about to play in the NFL," said Edwards, a second-round selection from Oregon State who will join six other draft picks and a few dozen undrafted free agents for a two-day rookie minicamp that begins today at the team's training complex. "I'm a little nervous, of course, but I'm ready to get out there. I want them to know that they made the right decision to pick me. I want to show them what kind of player they drafted."

The coaching staff expects the rookies to have a certain amount of anxiousness in their new surroundings. To not overwhelm them, the coaches only ask them to absorb a limited portion of a voluminous playbook.

"For a lot of them, we just try to get them to know that they have the ability and that's why they're here," quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw said. "We just want them to hit the field and move with explosive quickness, strength and show their God-given talents.

"The tempo and speed is the biggest difference for them."

Even though the intellectual portion of the orientation is scaled back to account for nervousness and different ability levels to assimilate new terminology, the coaches are looking for how the players adjust to a different environment.

It's a combination of evaluating how the prospects handle themselves physically and mentally.

"It's about doing your job while the competition is faster," Shaw said. "They'll learn that you can't get away with some of the things you did a year ago."

Like Edwards, receiver Devard Darling, outside linebacker Roderick Green, quarterback Josh Harris, receiver Clarence Moore, return specialist Derek Abney and offensive guard Brian Rimpf are fellow draft picks who are about to be initiated into the NFL.

"I'm really looking forward to it," said Edwards, who was drafted 51st overall after finishing with 159 career tackles and 12 ½ sacks."I'm curious to see all my new teammates."

An ability to handle stress is critical, because several of these young players will face a stern test in training camp to make the final roster, or the practice squad. Especially for undrafted rookies.

The AFC North champions return all but one starter, receiver Marcus Robinson, from last year. So, it's obviously a tough lineup and roster for a raw rookie to crack.

"It's always interesting to throw these guys out there and see how they do," Shaw said. "We coach them up on tempo and the plays and about the effort we expect. Sometimes, it's a little too big for them. Sometimes, guys are naturals and catch on right away."

NOTES: Beyond former University of Maryland offensive tackle Eric Dumas, who joins the Ravens, other Terrapins signed by NFL teams as undrafted free agents include: offensive guard Lamar Bryant (Falcons), cornerback Curome Cox (Falcons); safety Dennard Wilson (Redskins), receiver Jafar Williams (Redskins) and receiver Latrez Harrison (Patriots). …

The Ravens' Spring Football Festival will be held on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium between 1 and 6 p.m. The event will include appearances by Raven players, including tight end Todd Heap and linebacker Adalius Thomas, a question and answer session with personnel department staffers, cheerleaders, mascots and a viewing of highlights from last season. For ticket information call, 410-261-RAVE. …

Ravens long snapper Mike Solwold will begin a summer internship today with the National Museum of American History at Washington's Smithsonian Institution. He'll help prepare a traveling exhibit on athletes who have changed society and their sport.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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