Chat Transcript - June 17, 2004

Join Aaron Wilson and the Insiders as they discuss the players, the mini-camp, the rookies, and more!<br><br>Chats are held every two weeks until camp when they will be a regular weekly occurence.<br>


Ravens Insider Top Stories

aaronwilson Good evening, everyone. Ready for all your Ravens questions.
aaronwilson Thanks for your patience.
dabruise How about a little summary of mini-camps.
aaronwilson Well, the offense had its ups and downs. Today, was a lot better. Sharper in red-zone work and more consistent overall. In particular, tight end Todd Heap had his way when matched opposite cornerback Dale Carter.
midfan does Hunter really stand a chance to make our defense? If not is he going to stick at all?
POPSinPA OK, how has Boller REALLY looked so far?
aaronwilson He has an outside chance due to the lack of depth at cornerback. Keep in mind that Javin Hunter is 5-11, 190 pounds, runs a 4.47, has a 41-inch vertical leap and bench presses over 315 pounds. He's an ideal candidate for a conversion based on his prep All-American background. This could work out decently if he can learn the nuances of cornerback quickly.
debi How are things going with McAllister?
aaronwilson Boller has been better than last year, but needs to continue to improve his touch on short passes. In short, Kyle Boller is coming along nicely and the goal is for him to play at a solid level, not spectacular. They've stressed making safe plays to him continually. He seems to be catching on.
DarkSide How about Trent Smith? Is he limping to the extent that a comeback could be out of the question?
darb63 Who has the inside track at starting RG this season. Anderson is the better run-blocker, but Rabach seems quite a bit more athletic
aaronwilson The Ravens' situation with McAlister is complex in that he hasn't signed his $7.1 million tender, negotiations are far apart and he just offended a lot of teammates with his comments comparing his past indiscretions to the six felony charges that Jamal Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Corey Fuller are facing in total. That said, look for them to resume negotiations after the moratorium on July 15. If it doesn't work out, he'll report and sign his tender. He has no choice basically, not if he wants to get paid, and C-Mac likes to be paid.
aaronwilson It will be well into training camp before we know if Trent Smith will be ready for the season-opener, according to Brian Billick. He's still limping, has a metal rod supporting his tibia and is only participating in individual drills. The Ravens say he's ahead of schedule.
aaronwilson Bennie Anderson is still the incumbent and the Ravens are trying to push him to get into better shape. He's far heavier than 345 pounds he's listed at, and his 356-pound estimate. Some team sources believe he's closer to 370 to 380 pounds.
dabruise Aaron, BB said they don't expect CMac in camp, but C-Mac says he'll be there. Which is more credible?
dabruise 380!!!!
aaronwilson I'm not sure it's a matter of credibility. It all depends on what transpires in the negotiating period before training camp commences.
midfan Will Randy Hymes be at full speed by training camp or is he maybe headed for the practice squad?
aaronwilson Both sides have different perspectives. Keep in mind that Chris McAlister has been to one Pro Bowl. Champ Bailey, the $63 million man, has been selected to appear in four Pro Bowl games.
aaronwilson Randy Hymes is already too far along to be on the practice squad. His knee has healed rapidly and he'll play in games this fall unless he has a setback. He's coming along nicely.
DarkSide How about Moore, Aaron? How did he look, and do you think he has a chance of making the roster?
POPSinPA Is Devard still looking as impressive this time around?
aaronwilson Clarence Moore is a long-strider who has excellent size. He's a really intriguing prospect. I would think he would be considered for one of the final roster spots if he demonstrate some special-teams ability. If not, he's a lock for the eight-man expanded practice squad.
hurting Aaron, with all of the rumors & turmoil about DB, how is Dale Carter looking? he had a promising career???
aaronwilson Devard Darling hasn't had as good a week as his previous camps. However, he's still awful impressive. Really good prospect. More upside than any other receiving prospect the Ravens have acquired in recent years. Be patient with him. He's a really good athlete and a very dedicated hard worker with more polish than originally projected.
aaronwilson Dale Carter is a disappointment in terms of the fact that he should have been one of the top cover corners of his era a la Deion Sanders and Aeneas Williams. At this point, his five violations of the NFL substance abuse policy have severely limited his career. That said, he still has cover skills, size and speed and a mean streak. I think he can help the Ravens on a limited basis if his quadriceps doesn't flare up and he gets in optimum condition. He's likely to stay out of trouble, since it's been two years since he ran afoul of the league's policies. He's burned a lot of bridges, though, so you have to view him with a suspicious eye.
midfan have you seen any noticeable improvement from Travis Taylor? His working out with Boller has to be a plus this season.
dabruise How about Ron Johnson? Is he done?
aaronwilson Travis has played pretty decently in camps. However, he typically does look strong in mini-camp sessions. His timing with Boller seems to have come a long way. You have to judge Travis Taylor on games, not practices, because it tends to be misleading to do otherwise.
aaronwilson Ron Johnson is the chief backup to starting flanker Kevin Johnson. He appears to have at least one more season to burn with the Ravens since a disappointing stint after being drafted in the fourth round years ago out of Minnesota.
DarkSide Aaron, can you elaborate further on why Darling's week wasn't as good as the previous camps?
hurting Aaron, I logged on late, so if this was covered ignore & I will check it out in the transcript: But Who is the front runner for punt & kickoff returns thus far. It sounds like we have 4 guys competing now?
aaronwilson He dropped a few passes. His hands were like glue in prior mini-camps. That said, the rookie has excellent technique and hands.
midfan how is the Cavanaugh/ Fassel thing working out? Will Fassel have much of a role come season start?
aaronwilson Lamont Brightful faces stiff competition from rookie Derek Abney, but Brightful has prepared hard for this challenge. He's put on a dozen pounds through diligent work in the weight room and should be far more durable. It will come down to preseason performances and the opinion of special teams coordinator Gary Zauner.
aaronwilson Jim Fassel has been complimentary of Matt Cavanaugh and David Shaw. He said he's trying to not overload Kyle Boller with advice and stay out of their way for the most part. So far, Fassel and Cavanaugh have said it's working out quite well, along with Brian Billick.
aaronwilson Fassel will help with scouting opponents, self-scouting and game plans to an extent. He's more of an extra set of eyes than anything else. He's a part-timer who commutes back and forth to New Jersey.
midfan he will be a good source against the nfc east this season
hurting Keeping with the Fassel theme: Have you noticed any improvement in Boller's accuracy & mechanics in the short time they have worked together?
DarkSide Who is spending the most time with Kyle at this point? Fassel or Cavanaugh?
aaronwilson Definitely, and he's played quarterback before and worked with the likes of Phil Simms, John Elway and Kerry Collins. Should be a real asset.
aaronwilson Kyle Boller's fundamentals are improved, but he has to constantly guard against the regression he experienced last year as a rookie, months removed from the capable tutelage of Cal coach Jeff Tedford. So far, Kyle Boller seems to be retaining what the coaches are teaching him. We'll see if it holds up
aaronwilson It's fairly evenly distributed between Jim Fassel, Matt Cavanaugh and Brian Billick.
darb63 Has Boller shown to be more accurate this year, and not just on the short routes
aaronwilson He's more accurate in general, but occasionally throws his short routes off rhythm. There have still been too many interceptions. Keep in mind that this defense is simply far more talented than the offense. That is a definite factor in practice sessions and can't be underestimated.
dabruise This would be a positive.
BMO Hymes?
aaronwilson He estimates his capabilities at 85 percent coming off the knee injury that cost him all of last season. I thought he showed some real ability this week to gain separation and catch passes in stride.
dabruise How's Gerome Sapp. Thought he might be one to watch this year?
aaronwilson Gerome Sapp is once again contending for playing time beyond special teams. He's very smart with better size and strength than Will Demps. However, Demps' savvy, experience and anticipation of offensive movements are key factors in his favor to retain his starting job.
DarkSide Aaron - out of the UFA's - give us one, from each side of the line - that has looked really good and who might have a chance.
aaronwilson It should be an interesting competition to monitor.
hurting Speaking of Sapp, are any other defensive players showing potential starter capabilities? Say outside LB (Boulware replacement) or D-Line?
aaronwilson Matt Zielinski, defensive tackle from Duke, is well regarded by defensive line coach Rex Ryan. Marcell Allmond is an interesting safety prospect. Running back/return specialist B.J. Sams from McNeese State (La.) has drawn the most praise from Brian Billick. Brian Gaither, an undrafted quarterback from Western Carolina, is another to watch.
midfan in your opinion Aaron will McAlister be signed to a long term deal before the season starts?
aaronwilson Adalius Thomas and Cornell Brown will hold down Peter Boulware's spot during his convalescence. I don't see anyone supplanting the current starters on the line until much later in the season or next year. Dwan Edwards, the rookie second-round pick, is the top candidate to emerge as a starter one day.
aaronwilson No.
aaronwilson Chris McAlister will play this season under the franchise tag under all current probability and indicators.
dabruise Do you see Green making the team?
aaronwilson Roderick Green will make the football team, maybe even the active roster. He's impressive in terms of size, movement and enthusiasm, a really hard-working kid. Had academic problems due to learning disability, but really tries hard. The coaching staff likes him a lot.
dabruise How's he fit into the PB, AD formula?
aaronwilson He doesn't. He's not currently viewed as a rotation candidate, more special teams initially. Check back next year, or if the Ravens have injuries outside.
dabruise Any interest in Gildon?
hurting OT - what do you think of the all black uniforms? and please say there is not a possibility that they become the primary uniforms some day! is there?
aaronwilson I like the black uniforms and there is a possibility that they could become a primary uniform next year. However, note what equipment manager Ed Carroll said about the new uniforms. Black retains a lot of heat. Imagine a September game in the future on the road against, say, the Miami Dolphins. It could backfire.
aaronwilson The Ravens could wilt.
midfan has Josh Harris made any impressions on you?
aaronwilson No interest in Jason Gildon. He's likely to wind up in Buffalo.
POPSinPA AW, How does is this motion offense look, and is it doable?
aaronwilson Josh Harris is a really good draft pick: mobile, strong-armed, smart.
BMO stronger armed than Kyle?
aaronwilson It appears to be mostly smoke and mirrors, disguise, not substance. Hopefully, it doesn't lead to more off sides penalties as any pre-snap motion did last year. In particular, the right side of the line and Travis Taylor seem to get too antsy.
POPSinPA That is my worry
aaronwilson No, his arm strength is above-average, not extraordinary. Josh Harris has an NFL arm, though.
DarkSide How has Josh performed so far?
aaronwilson He has outperformed Brian Gaither. I believe he's a virtual lock to open to the season as the Ravens' third quarterback.
BMO your opinion on Boller: Arm strength only?
aaronwilson Outstanding.
aaronwilson A true gunslinger.
aaronwilson Where will the football land, though?
darb63 Have we convinced the offensive line that they shouldn't go in motion? That's the major problem.
aaronwilson That remains to be seen. It's a priority I'm sure line coach Jim Colletto will stress often and he'll be quite vocal in doing so.
aaronwilson You can count on that.
aaronwilson One of the toughest, best coaches the Ravens have.
aaronwilson He was the only offensive coach that almost got an interview after the season. Was in the running for a while for Arizona Cardinals' offensive coordinator job that went to Alex Wood.
dabruise Does this mean that Kyle will kill his share of worms this year?
darb63 Offensive linemen are (usually) the smartest players on the field. It stands to reason their coach would be smart.
midfan I keep hearing rumors that Ray Lewis will not be 100% healthy this season that his shoulder is still not right, any truth to that?
dabruise and how's this work with JLew out of the backfield.
hurting Rex is certainly a favorite of the ""miked up"" crew. And he is very animated. He seems like a good tough coach!
aaronwilson I see you're a Hard Knocks devotee. I remember Ortege Jenkins, too. Trust me, it's nowhere near that glaring, or troubling. He's fairly accurate. The kid turned 23 today, headed home to California to visit family and actress girlfriend Tara Reid.
darb63 Thanks for that reminder Aaron.
aaronwilson The MRI on Ray Lewis' shoulder was encouraging. He's out of the woods there apparently. The thumb isn't a big issue, either.
aaronwilson Jamal Lewis splits out wide, and then the team can either throw him a quick pass or use him as a decoy and hand off to Musa Smith or go the other way to the tight end.
hurting From your interaction with Ray, how many pro-bowl years would you say he has left in him???
aaronwilson Kyle Boller, by the way, said he'll be back in Baltimore for workouts after July 4. He wants to take two weeks off to rest his arm, which is a wise move.
BMO Pro Bowl till he retires
aaronwilson Three years is how he views the Ravens' Super Bowl window. I would say he could perform at a Pro Bowl level for at least that many seasons.
BMO he goes all or none
aaronwilson I think when Ray Lewis retires he'll retire on top. That seems to be his modus operandi.
BMO plus many greats get voted on toward end of careers based on the effort
DarkSide How much time did Rabach log at Center? And do you think they'd seriously consider playing him there, and sliding Flynn over to guard?
dabruise Any word on the the court cases.
aaronwilson Casey Rabach played more at guard than center, but did get a fair amount of reps at center, especially the day Mike Flynn shifted to right guard.
aaronwilson I think they will consider the move, but ultimately will vote for continuity on the line. He'll play more, though, especially if Bennie Anderson doesn't get himself in shape.
hurting Speaking of Rabach. How do you see the O-line shaping up this season. Who will be the starting 5?
aaronwilson The pending felony cases goes like this: Jamal Lewis (no court date yet); Corey Fuller (Aug. 23); Terrell Suggs (Sept. 9) Nothing new to report on pretrial developments.
BMO Suggs was bound to have a slow case
aaronwilson LT Jonathan Ogden, LG Edwin Mulitalo, C Mike Flynn RG Bennie Anderson RT Orlando Brown
midfan any roster player have a bad camp in your impression?
aaronwilson Suggs, Fuller and Lewis could all get continuances if their lawyers can prove a sufficient reason for the judge to grant them.
POPSinPA Let's hope the Judges are football fans :)
aaronwilson Dale Carter appeared tired compared to his first mini-camp. Fatigue seemed to set in.
dabruise Any precamp prediction on Ravens Record?
aaronwilson The heat was fairly oppressive, too. I wouldn't be overly concerned. Keep in mind that his quadriceps injury kept him from training.
aaronwilson 11-5.
POPSinPA How is KJ looking and fitting in?
aaronwilson Kevin Johnson is really polished as a receiver, knows how to sell a route. His teammates seem to respect him and view him as a real upgrade to a receiving corps that obviously lacked talent in previous incarnations.
BMO Taylor feel that way?
dabruise Glue for hands?
debi fly paper
aaronwilson By the way, two new articles today. One is on Chris McAlister situation. The other is on the passing game.
POPSinPA He will make TT a better receiver
aaronwilson Kevin Johnson is a really sure-handed veteran.
aaronwilson Travis Taylor is very impressed, praised Kevin Johnson profusely.
dabruise Gives me goose bumps. Someone will catch the ball.
Crowdog89 Training camp right around the corner...yeah baby!
dabruise BTW, Who's going to be #1?
aaronwilson That's the expectation in the majority of the NFL. Obviously, not in Baltimore in recent campaigns.
BMO Johnson, Hymes?
aaronwilson Todd Heap, basically. No true No. 1 wideout. Johnson and Taylor are best suited to be No. 2 downfield targets.
Crowdog89 What do you think of those awful all black unis?
BMO awful?
debi yucky black!
aaronwilson I like them all right. I don't believe the uniforms are intimidating to anyone. This is the NFL, not Pop Warner, though.
darb63 Heck, our entire passing game is throwing it as far downfield as possible and hoping the defender doesn't intercept the thing.
aaronwilson It might feel intimidating to the players, though, and offer some sort of psychological edge. Stay tuned.
aaronwilson Exactly.
debi Im not sold on the black uni's
aaronwilson Certainly, we're open to suggestions. None of us is exactly Armani or whatever. Who cares, really? It's about winning, not style points.
darb63 They'll look cool in Madden, but I'm questioning the look on Sundays
dabruise How's Biscuit? Changes?
debi JUST SO THEY WIN!!!
aaronwilson Orlando Brown joked that the black might have a slimming effect on him. He's not sure if that's good for his game, though.
aaronwilson Nothing is new with the Steve Bisciotti regime, other than team president Dick Cass. It's been a seamless transition thus far.
dabruise Heard Art made an appearance the other day.
BMO Boller? is he fitting to make it happen?
aaronwilson Yes, Art Modell was at practice today, too. He sat in his cart and drove Ozzie Newsome around. At one point, they waved Jamal Lewis over, shook hands and conferred for a few minutes.
aaronwilson I think Kyle Boller won't be the reason the team loses games. I think he'll be more of an asset than last fall.
dabruise Thanks Aaron.
Crowdog89 That's good news...
midfan how is Kordell looking in your opinion? I hope we don't have to find out this season.
aaronwilson Kordell Stewart is coming along fast. He seems to be learning the offense quickly. So far, he's demonstrating arm strength and his trademark mobility. The team is pleased with his progress. The operative plan remains for him to never play a down though and for Kyle Boller to take every snap in actual games.
CG How did Dwan Edwards look?
aaronwilson Dwan Edwards is well-conditioned and technique-strong. He appears ready to play a lot of snaps as a rookie.
darb63 If, for some reason, Boller goes down, will the Ravens promote Harris to second string?
aaronwilson No, Kordell Stewart would immediately become the starter if Kyle Boller was injured.
BMO Kordell with his scrambling ability and the fact that Travis can get open after 2 hours is at least intriguing ain't it??
aaronwilson He would hold that position until or if Anthony Wright becomes healthy enough to play.
aaronwilson Certainly, they're good athletes. It's not surprising to see them make plays.
CG How about the kick returners
BMO but in camp that's rare
aaronwilson It's too early to tell much, because they don't do much special-teams work at this point. Lamont Brightful looks like the best of the bunch to me. Derek Abney and B.J. Sams are promising.
aaronwilson A couple of more, guys.
DarkSide How about Rimpf? How has he looked, and do you think he's got a chance to make the roster?
aaronwilson He looks all right, nothing to write home or in the newspaper about thus far. It's tough for him because he's behind Damion Cook, Tony Pashos, etc.
midfan Will Pashos make the roster?
aaronwilson Yes, I believe he will.
BMO If Stewart were to take snaps would Cavanaugh be able to adapt to his running ability?
aaronwilson He is fighting to be the eighth lineman behind Casey Rabach and Damion Cook.
aaronwilson I don't think that would challenge Cavanaugh's play-calling considering the fact that Jeff Blake, Anthony Wright and Randall Cunningham and Kyle Boller have all played for him.
Crowdog89 Do you think we'll see more play action...or I should say Play action period...this season ?
aaronwilson I have seen very little play-action in practice yet. Maybe they'll install more and implement it in August.
aaronwilson Last question of the night.
aaronwilson Who's it going to be?
Crowdog89 I hope so...that was horrible not to even have one play action play used last year
aaronwilson They did use more than one last year, it just seemed like they didn't.
aaronwilson Because it happened so seldom.
DarkSide Will Fassel be with us on game days this year?
aaronwilson Jim Fassel told me he'll attend the Sunday night and Monday night games, but very few others.
aaronwilson He wants to have his weekends off for the most part to develop a manual for coaching success and to spend time with his wife.
aaronwilson Guys, thanks for all of the outstanding questions. We'll do this again soon.