Billick cancels final day of practice

In an apparent vote of confidence in the Baltimore Ravens' readiness, coach Brian Billick cancelled today's final practice of training camp.<br><br> The Ravens will leave Westminster today and shift operations back to their Owings Mills training complex following early-morning meetings.

"That says we're right where we need to be right now and we don't need to pound each other for one more practice," said defensive end Tony Weaver, who's hobbled with a high ankle sprain. "That's a good indication of how training camp went.

"We're making a few mistakes here and there, but that's what camp is for. We'll be ready for the first game against the Cleveland Browns."

It was a period where a great deal of conversation was devoted to discussing the absence of franchise cornerback Chris McAlister (contract dispute), the legal situation of Pro Bowl runner Jamal Lewis and speculating about the possible arrival of retired defensive back Deion Sanders. During camp, the Ravens learned that Lewis faces a Nov. 1 court date on federal drug conspiracy charges.

"We're looking forward to the addition of Chris and if Deion comes, that would be a plus," cornerback Gary Baxter said.

It was also a time where the majority of the Ravens' focus was placed on improving the lowest-ranked passing game in the league from last season.

"I feel like camp went well and that we made a lot of strides," said quarterback Kyle Boller, who's entrenched as the starter entering his second season. "We set some goals that I think we've achieved. We've got a long way to go, but it's a good start."

A great deal of time and amount of coaches, including Billick, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, senior consultant Jim Fassel and quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw, was devoted toward improving Boller's game.

The primary goals: to improve his mechanics and fundamentals along with elevating his efficiency and accuracy.

"I think I improved on my footwork, my mechanics," Boller said. "Just knowledge of the game, understanding defenses and attacking them."

The camp consistently drew large crowds that rivaled the enthusiasm generated in 2001 with a record total attendance of 111,492 following the Ravens' Super Bowl victory. This year's total attendance was estimated at 83,875.

The Ravens (1-1) have the rest of today off after meetings and return to practice Wednesday in Owings Mills to prepare for Saturday's preseason game against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium. The third preseason game is typically when teams give the highest workload to their starters.

"I'm sure guys are excited to have a little R&R, but it doesn't mean that you can't go in and watch some tape and get a lift in," Boller said. "We've got a big game coming up against Detroit."

The timing of Billick's decision followed the news that center Mike Flynn will miss the next six to eight weeks after fracturing his clavicle. Was it a coincidence that camp was halted after 13 players, including six starters, missed practice Monday with injuries?

"I'm not sure if it had anything to do with that," tight end Todd Heap said. "I think coach does everything for a reason. It's a big blow what happened to Mike, a major loss, but we have guys who can fill in and we'll make it work."

 


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