Pivotal offseason for McNair

OWINGS MILLS -- As the Baltimore Ravens launched their offseason training program Monday under new coach John Harbaugh's direction, the voluntary workouts are of particular importance to a pivotal veteran. Ravens quarterback Steve McNair is attempting to revive his career following an injury-plagued season while recovering from a December surgery to repair the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

McNair has nearly regained full range of motion in his left shoulder and has gotten in better shape, according to team officials, while significantly increasing the amount of time he spends at the Ravens' training complex.

The Ravens have made it clear that McNair remains the frontrunner to start under center with caveats including his health status, conditioning and performance.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, McNair is coming off a disastrous season where groin, back and shoulder injuries limited him to two touchdown passes as he threw four interceptions and lost seven fumbles. After a franchise-record 13-3 campaign in 2006, Baltimore finished 5-11 and plummeted to last place in the AFC North.

"I'm sure that Steve is going to bounce back," Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle said. "Whenever people count Steve out , that's when he plays his best. You can never count him out because of the kind of person and football player that he is."

Meanwhile, Harbaugh announced his minicamp and organized team activity schedule.

As a new head coach, Harbaugh is allowed to hold one mandatory and two voluntary camps for veterans with no limits set on the amount of rookie camps.

The first minicamp is set for April 17 through April 19 with another minicamp set for May 1 through May 3.

The mandatory minicamp is May 9 through May 11.

On May 16, the Ravens are holding a special-teams workout. There will be a three-day rookie minicamp May 20 through May 22.

Following a May 23 special-teams practice, the Ravens will conduct three passing camps (May 27-30, June 3-6 and June 9-12) in concluding their offseason program.

The Ravens are set to hold their 13th annual training camp at McDaniel College with potential start dates ranging between the weeks of July 20 and July 27.

All dates are subject to change.

Unlike previous training camps under Brian Billick where veterans were allowed to return home at night and return the next morning for meetings and practice sessions, veterans and rookies will be required to remain in Westminster at the team hotel during camp.

"That will be a little different, but it's something that coach Harbaugh feels strongly about," Rolle said. "It's all about being close as a team and winning games."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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