Raven Minicamp Wrap Up

Brian Billick and his staff had to make sure to keep checking their rosters as they got their first look of the 2002 Ravens at minicamp this past weekend. With 13 starters gone, and 42, count em' 42 rookies in camp, scorecards were necessary. Perhaps the most hopeful story to emerge out of training camp for Ravens fans is the return and effectiveness of Jamal Lewis.

Lewis, who tore his ACL last August missing all of the 2001 season, exceeded coach's and trainer's expectations by participating in drills throughout the weekend. Lewis still looked gimpy, and by his own estimates his knee is at about "85%" right now.  Still, he appears to be about 2 months ahead of Billick and trainer Bill Tessendorf's rehab schedule.

Chris Redman, participating in his first minicamp as starting QB, had an inconsistent performance on the field, getting sharper and more relaxed as the weekend went on. Off the field, though, he started to establish himself as the offensive leader as other players gravitated towards him in-between practice sessions.

With 42 rookies in camp, it was bound that a few of them would stand out among the others. First round pick Ed Reed impressed coaches with his pass coverage skills. Anthony Weaver, like Reed, an instant starter on defense, showed an impressive burst and quickness at the LDE spot in the Ravens new 3-4 system. Bart Scott, an undrafted free agent ILB from Southern Illinois, filled in for no-show Ray Lewis in the starting unit and had an impressive showing, picking off two passes on Saturday.

Chester Taylor, looked very smooth in RB drills. Taylor, a 6th round choice from Toledo, and some other rookie runners such as Tellis Redmon (Minnesota) and Dameon Hunter (Utah) could play key roles with the Ravens this year not only because of Jamal Lewis's return from his torn ACL, but because of the disappointing showing of Jason Brookins.

Brookins showed some great flashes last season, but also irritated coaches with his "star" attitude, poor knowledge of the playbook and poor blocking skills. He compounded those irritations this past week by showing up to camp overweight, by at least 15 lb. over his listed weight of 235. If hedoesn't shape up, Brookins will be a long shot to make the Ravens.

Overall, most of the goals in minicamp are for rookies to get their feet wet, get them accustomed to the NFL style practice and language of the Ravens's system and playbook. For coaches, it's a chance for them to become familiar with their new players. With 46 players under the age of 24, the Ravens also spent plenty of time just teaching X's and O's, more than I'm sure they ever have in a minicamp before, even with Sunday's practice being washed out by rain (they did have a walk through on an adjacent field).

The Ravens still have some holes to fill, at RT, on the DL and in the secondary, among others, and this past weekend saw some players in starting roles that hopefully for Ravens fans, won't be occurring in September. These included Jason Thomas at RT, and Marques Douglas and Kelly Gregg on the DL. Douglas and Gregg worked along with Anthony Weaver in the Ravens's new 3-4 defense, which has been the subject of much debate this offseason. For instance, Ron Jaworski and Merril Hodge had a spirited discussion during the NFL draft on what the effects of the 3-4 would be on Ray Lewis. But, Peter Boulware suggested that despite having one more LB and one less lineman on the field, the changes won't be near as dramatic as many think. Boulware, was quoted in the Sun as saying "75 of the things we did last year, we're going to be doing this year. It's just different fronts." 

Next for the Ravens will be a passing camp May 20th.

Vincent Ottone is one of the talented individuals over at http://ravens.theinsiders.com You will find him hanging out on the message boards as 'HD Dream'.


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