Baltimore Ravens' notes and quotes 7/4

The Ravens' priority this offseason was revamping their longtime sputtering passing game, from changing receivers to changing coaches.

Wasting little time to move in a different direction, the Ravens signed Derrick Mason on the first day of free agency and drafted Mark Clayton in the first round. These new starting receivers should significantly upgrade an offense that ranked last in 2003 and second-to-last in 2004.

Receiver has been a major void for years. No Ravens wideout has made more than 39 catches in each of the past two seasons.

Jim Fassel, who replaced Matt Cavanaugh as offensive coordinator, stressed to the Ravens that the team needed more quickness on the outside. That meant cutting ties with underachievers such as Travis Taylor and Kevin Johnson and adding Mason and Clayton, a pair of 5-foot-10 receivers who can run after the catch.

Mason, a salary-cap cut by the Tennessee Titans, had 96 catches last season. Clayton, who holds numerous receiving records at Oklahoma, is considered the most polished receiver of this draft class.

The Ravens will emphasize more shallow routes, which should increase their completion percentage and give their receivers more chances to break tackles. Last season, quarterback Kyle Boller averaged a lowly 5.5 yards per attempt because too often his receivers would go down after the initial hit.

The other major change was on the offensive line, where the Ravens signed Keydrick Vincent as a free agent.

The former Pittsburgh Steeler replaces Bennie Anderson and brings more athleticism to the position. The signing of Vincent will strengthen the Ravens' pass protection (Anderson was considered powerful but stiff) and allow the Ravens to pull more often on outside runs.

Besides alterations on the field, the Ravens are working to restructure the offense's mindset.

The Ravens added Rick Neuheisel to coach the quarterbacks and Fassel to makeover the offense, which has ranked in the bottom half of the NFL for five of the past six seasons.

"I think you'll see a definitive personality for the offense," coach Brian Billick said. "Obviously, with Jim's experiences and where he's coming from as a head coach, one of the priorities was to create a very specific personality and to have a swagger about itself. You have to earn that but when Jim stands there in front of that offensive group, there is a presence."

In the past, the personality of the Ravens' offense has been conservative. The Ravens were just one of 10 teams who averaged more rushing attempts than passes last season.

Fassel's reputation has a more aggressive flair. In his final five seasons as head coach of the New York Giants, the team averaged being the ninth-best passing team in the league.

"We want to be on the attack," Fassel said. "Part of that is you can't be stupid with the ball and you can't penalize yourself. You've got to be efficient."


--Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was acquitted of an assault charge stemming from a playground altercation. The jury also exonerated Suggs' younger brother, Donald, of two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly using a baseball bat in the brawl.

The case sprang from an argument between Cook and the Suggs brothers near basketball courts set up for a three-on-three tournament at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. It escalated to violence in a parking lot, where Suggs claimed he was hit over the head with an iron rod.

According to testimony, the brothers then beat up Cook and friends Casey Cothern and Anthony Henrie.

--In one of the last minicamp practices, rookie cornerback Bill Alford was literally faked out of his shoes. Trying to cover a receiver underneath, Alford lost his cleats while trying to make a play on the football.

A Ravens coach quickly yelled out, "You'd better tie those shoes, son."





--K Wade Richey probably won't be coming back after inconsistency on kickoffs led him to being inactive for parts of the season.

--LB T.J. Slaughter would seem to fit into the Ravens' plans as a starter at inside linebacker next season.

--QB Kordell Stewart could come back as the No. 3 quarterback if he doesn't receive offers to be the top backup elsewhere.




--FS Will Demps: RFA; $1.43M/1 yr.

--TE Darnell Dinkins: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.

--WR Randy Hymes: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.

--TE Terry Jones: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.

--NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu: RFA; $1.43M/1 yr.

--LS Joe Maese: UFA; $1.185M/2 yrs, $100,000 SB.

--OG Brian Rimpf: ERFA; $230,000/1 yr.

--RB Chester Taylor: RFA/matched Browns offer; $3/1 yr, $1M SB.

--TE Daniel Wilcox: ERFA; $380,000/1 yr.

--RB/KR B.J. Sams: ERFA; $305,000/1 yr.

--CB Deion Sanders: UFA; $1.5M/1 yr.

--S Chad Williams: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.

--P Dave Zastudil: RFA; $656,000/1 yr.

--DT Matt Zielinski: ERFA; $305,000/1 yr.


--WR Pat Johnson: FA; terms unknown.

--WR Derrick Mason: FA Titans; $20M/5 yrs, $7M SB.

--LB Jim Nelson: UFA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--LB Tommy Polley: UFA Rams; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--CB Samari Rolle: FA Titans; $30.5M/6 yrs, $11M SB.

--OG Keydrick Vincent: UFA Steelers; $4.64M/3 yrs, $1.25M SB.


--OG Bennie Anderson: UFA Vikings; $5.1M/3 yrs $1.5M SB.

--CB Gary Baxter: UFA Browns; $30.5M/6 yrs, $10.5M SB.

--LB Peter Boulware (released).

--OT Ethan Brooks: UFA Jets; terms unknown.

--LB Cornell Brown (failed physical).

--DE Marques Douglas: UFA 49ers; $4.5M/3 yrs, SB unknown.

--DB Corey Fuller (released).

--LB Ed Hartwell: UFA Falcons; $26.25M/6 yrs, $8M bonuses.

--WR Kevin Johnson (released).

--FB Harold Morrow (released).

--C Casey Rabach: UFA Redskins; $13.75/5 yrs, $2.5M SB.

--WR Travis Taylor: UFA Vikings; $2M/2 yrs, SB unknown.

--CB Ray Walls: UFA Cardinals; terms unknown.

--RB Jamel White: UFA Lions; terms unknown.

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