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OWINGS MILLS -- Question and answers about the Baltimore Ravens' mandatory minicamp

aaronwilson Chris, what do you think of the Ravens' class of 13 undrafted free agents as well as tryout quarterback/tight end Xavier Lee? csteuber It's a decent class; remember a lot of these guys are long shots. Xavier Lee is intriguing, but he's a developmental guy.

aaronwilson I was surprised he was willing to play tight end, but he didn't really have any choice in the matter.

csteuber If Xavier wants to have a shot to make any team he will have to try other positions. Marcus Vick went through the same thing when he came out.

Chris, do you think Cousins will be able to step in as the RT

aaronwilson Chris, what do you think about Joe Flacco's readiness to play this year?

csteuber I really like Hale. He was on my All-Sleeper Offensive Team. He's going to battle for playing time this year. He's a very good lineman who has great value. I think he's going to be a right tackle. I think Cousins is versatile enough to play inside or outside. I think he's better suited to play guard, but they could line him up outside.

Will

csteuber Honestly, I wouldn't let Flacco behind center this season, unless the Ravens are 3 - 9. I think you have to groom him and allow him to learn the system. I think he has a nice future, but you have to be patient.

The Ravens reportedly were after 2 CBs in the draft. They missed them both. Do you think they made out better with Fabian Washington and Ray Rice?

How is Rice in terms of his pass blocking

aaronwilson They were disappointed when Mike Jenkins and Brandon Flowers were unavailable. csteuber I think Fabian Washington has a lot of talent and maybe a change of scenary will help him. Ray Rice is going to be a very good player. I just worry about the amount of carries he had at Rutgers. I think Rice is an above average blocker; he's steady.

aaronwilson Chris, what was your grade like on Michigan lineman Adam Kraus?

To echo and earlier question, what is going on at center and who do you project to start there?

aaronwilson And Louisville tight end Scott Kuhn.

csteuber Kraus is a good player, not great, but he was solid at Michigan. He's a hard worker; very limited athletically. csteuber Kuhn is another hard working guy. He backed up Gary Barnidge at Louisville. I think he's a fringe guy who will have to continue his development as a blocker to make the team.

aaronwilson Have you heard much about former Cardinals player Lonnie Young, a scout that Arizona fired today and is coming to Baltimore to join the scouting department?

aaronwilson Guys, let's get your questions in to Chris now. Thanks.

6,0Why was he fired?

csteuber I know of Young, but I couldn't tell you much about the guys track record.

Chris, which if any of the UDFAs might sneak onto the team?

aaronwilson I don't know, but there was a shift in power with Steve Keim promoted. He may not have wanted Young. Two other scouts were dismissed, so it was a general shakeup. This happens a lot after the draft.

csteuber There's always a shake up with scouts.

What should we expect from the LB from the U? Is he just another decent linebacker or did we get great value?

csteuber I think Jameel McClain is a guy who fits well with the Ravens... he's versatile enough to play LB or DE.

csteuber Tavares Gooden had a really good year for Miami last year on a bad Hurricanes team. He has a lot of potential and he really showed his potential last year. Prior to last season he struggled. He's a bit inconsistent, but on a defense that has Ray Lewis, another Miami player, I think Gooden will develop nicely in the Ravens system.

What do you think about Marcus Smith?

aaronwilson By the way, Lonnie Young was the Cardinals' Northeast area scout and lives in New York. He was a former Cardinals safety and played in the NFL for 12 years.

and he's the fastest guy in tecmo super bowl!!! aaronwilson Yep, a glitch in the game.

aaronwilson Funny, though.

greatest game ever

aaronwilson I used to love that game.

o man. me too

1,0Who has a better chance of making the final 53 man roster: Wheelwright or Reed?

aaronwilson Chris, what are you hearing about the 2009 class as far as cornerbacks and wide receivers?

csteuber Well, the 2009 class has potential and again it depends on which juniors declare. Malcolm Jenkins and Vontae Davis are the best senior CBs; Aaron Kelly and Brian Robiskie are the best senior WRs.

aaronwilson Chris, what do you think about Allen Patrick?

1,0Heard anything about Darrius Heyward-Bey from MD?

csteuber Patrick is a scat back. He showed a lot of potential at Oklahoma, but injuries have been a problem for him. He's quick and elusive, but he has to stay on the field.

csteuber Heyward-Bay is a junior. He's a very good receiver; nice quickness and hands. I think he has to develop a little more, but in my first 2009 mock draft I had him going 21st overall.

aaronwilson Chris, any buzz about these Illinois kids as far as NFL potential. Seems like Ron Zook is really recruiting well, espcially these D.C. kids.

locksley

Good evening gang. As far as tight end goes how did lee and Reitz look out there and what happened to Kuhn's hand?

aaronwilson I know, but Zook is a closer, too.

csteuber the kids that are currently at illinois?

aaronwilson Yes, currently at Illinois.

1,0Who are your top 5 DEs for '09?

aaronwilson Like Benn.

csteuber Vontae Davis is a stud. He's the younger brother of Vernon Davis, TE with the Niners. Benn is a sophomore... But Davis is for real.

aaronwilson Xavier Lee looked fairly natural at tight end. Reitz is very raw, has a lot to learn, but is a great athlete. Kuhn has a broken left thumb, will likely need surgery to have a pin inserted.

aaronwilson Guys, let Chris answer the defensive end question and then we'll discuss the minicamp. Thank you Chris for doing the chat. Much appreciated.

thanks Chris

Aaron...I heard you say on NST today that Gaither has been takin snaps with the first team while Terry is still recovering from the ankle. From most of your reports it sounded like Gaither was on thin ice. Today you said if you had to pick the best 5 OL to start, he'd be the LT. That scares me

I know nothing is going to be decided in this past minicamp, but from what you saw aaron is it likely that they are really going to try and bring in some additional bodies at DE?

aaronwilson Well, Jared Gaither was always going to be a candidate to start because of his size and talent. Why would that surprise you? I know there are some maturity issues, but that's not going to keep him off the field.

6,0And we all want to know what's going on at Center. It seems like everyone BUT Chester has been taking the reps.

aaronwilson I don't think they're bringing in any other defensive ends at this point. They only signed on defensive lineman and he was a nose guard, Lorenzo Williams from Mizzou.

yeah, what's going on with chester?

It's early, but my top-five DEs are: Tyson Jackson, Michael Johnson, George Selvie,

Greg Hardy, Greg Middleton... Thanks guys!

aaronwilson Chester is falling behind the other guys a little bit as they ponder other options. He's not out of the equation by any stretch.

Is the TE situation as dire as it sounds?

aaronwilson Until they have some alternatives for Marshal Yanda at RT like Oniel Cousins developing, they can't execute the line shuffle.

aaronwilson It will be dire if Todd Heap and Dan Wilcox have health issues. Otherwise, it will be fine.

1,0L to R: Gaither, Grubbs, Brown, Terry, Yanda sound good?

aaronwilson They can always put an extra offensive lineman in at tight end like Chris Chester or Adam Terry.

aaronwilson Terry can't play guard. The man is 6-8. And he's not a right tackle.

Aaron..I was under the impression that Terry would be the starting LT while Gaither still honed his skills and started showing some maturity and dedication in the weight room etc...

aaronwilson So, the right tackle will either be Yanda or Cousins in all likelihood.

Terry is strictly a LT. ALways has been, always will be

aaronwilson Terry is hurt and is missing

valuable reps, but I'm not counting him out.

its time for chester to step up...what's his issue? is he getting pushed around?

aaronwilson Plus, Gaither could screw up during the preseason again as he did last year.

How has the battle for the second wr been going between Dwill and Clayton? Or is it possible we'll have a 3 wr set a lot more than we're used to and it won't matter?

If Terry isn't the starting LT.... where does he fit?

aaronwilson Chester is playing okay. He's just not that big and they want to consider other alternatives.

On the bench BigAl

aaronwilson I would say Mark Clayton has outplayed Demetrius Williams so far.

with all the ones sitting out a camp because of injuries are there any that may still pose problems by training camp time ?

i heard marcus smith has looked pretty good

aaronwilson I don't think the pass-blocking or quarterback play will be good enough to warrant playing three wideouts very often.

aaronwilson Yes, Terry would just be a backup if he doesn't start. Quality backup, definitely.

aaronwilson This looks like a running team.

it's gotta be

imo

aaronwilson As far as injuries, most are not that serious really.

That would be a good thing, finally using play action the way they should.

So all about the offense being opened up is not entirely accurate?

aaronwilson Marcus Smith has been solid overall, tough kid, good hands, not a burner, but quick and strong. Really fills out the uniform.

They don't have a quality starting QB, a legit #1 WR, or a steady pass blocking OL. pretty much means we are a running team

6,0How did Figurs break his hand?

aaronwilson It's all subjective on the offensive line's pass blocking, quarterback play, learning a new offense. The most likely thing that will happen is they will run the ball a lot and go high percentage on throws until the players have fully absorbed the intricacies of Cameron's offense.

by dropping a pass

1,0poe: what has been different in the last few years?

aaronwilson Someone knocked into Figurs.

when's the next OTA, Aaron?

aaronwilson However, they will be likely be less predictable in terms of formations, tendencies with Cameron and run better plays.

6,0Who's been taking reps returning punts?

aaronwilson They have closed workouts this week. they had them today?

aaronwilson Next camp that I'm going to that's open is May 20. Three-day rookie minicamp.

aaronwilson The OTAs start up again later this week.

aaronwilson Ray Rice, Mark Clayton, Jim Leonhard, Demetrius Williams and Ronnie Prude caught punts Saturday.

aaronwilson Play-action shapes up as a staple in this offense by the way, Al.

6,0DWill and Clayton?

aaronwilson I doubt they have to do that in games. Remember, they have Ed Reed, too. And Figurs, Leonhard, Rice.

Hopefully just for camps sake, I am all for return specialists, don't want to get Clayton or Williams hurt

aaronwilson Leonhard is a pretty good little punt returner and backup safety. He had another good minicamp.

Did they the work Tommy Z into the rotatation as well aaron?

1,0so assuming the offense shapes up by this time next year, do the Ravens finally go for a #1 WR?

aaronwilson By the way, couple small items I picked up today: No greivance date set for Terrell Suggs yet, according to an NFL PA legal department official. Also, Xavier Lee remained unsigned as of late this afternoon. His agent hadn't heard from Baltimore yet.

Of all the new draftees and undrafted FA's, who has stood out the most aaronwilson Zbikowski didn't catch any punts at camp. I'm sure he'll get a look at the rookie minicamp.

aaronwilson It's getting to be that time if Clayton and Williams don't develop.

aaronwilson By the way, Clayton had an awesome minicamp.Over his injuries and playing very well.

aaron, no word on Lee and signing up?

1,0I think Clayton can be an amazing #2

I've been very down on Clayton, so I'm glad to hear that

clayton has a clear head this year from what i've heard

It would be nice if he emerged as a consistent threat

aaronwilson I just said he hasn't signed yet, but I expect him to be at the next minicamp. He told me he was going to talk over things with team officials.

aaronwilson Clayton is very focused. We'll post a feature on Mark soon.

6,0I suspect some of last year's "injuries" were guys not caring enough to get back on the field

aaronwilson I don't think that was the case with Mark, but I suspected that with some veterans.

1,0but a speedy, Welker type slot receiver would put points up in a hurry with this Offensive style Cam is introducing

Does Wilcox appear to be on track for training camp?

aaronwilson I think Cam will be able to make good use of Clayton.

aaronwilso> Dan thinks he's going to be ready, but he also asked me to pray for him. He seemed a little pessimistic. I know he's uptight about being hurt at the wrong time as the new regime is putting their imprint on things.

how's jackson as the QB coach...is he giving lots of instructions?

I remember hearing you say that about the prayer..... a bit troubling.

aaronwilson Jackson is a good coach. Anyone who can get 10 touchdowns and five picks out of Chris Redman is pretty solid.

aaronwilson Dan is a spiritual guy.

aaronwilson By the way, Bart Scott's No. 32 is being retired at his Detroit high school on Wednesday. I'm trying to set up a phone interview with him from Detroit for that afternoon to ask him about it.

are any of the offensive coaches...an "in your face style" coach?

aaronwilson He's come a long way since not getting recruited much out of high school.

1,0The whole coaching staff has an amazing resume

aaronwilson John Matsko is very intense and very blunt and direct in his approach. He's the new offensive line coach.

1,0Moeller and Matsko are amazing is he the one who said to gaither...what the hell are you doing here? aaronwilson Yes, it was Matsko. I hope that rubs of on Terry and G aither.

Aaron...What do you think about the Ray Lewis contract stuff? Is there serious dialogue now or just preliminary stuff? Do you think anything will get done before the season?

good, i think you need at least one of those types of coaches on the staff to kick ass for people who are out of line

aaronwilson Matsko is old-school. Coached Anthony Munoz at USC and all those good Chiefs linemen and worked for the Rams when they were the Greatest Show on Turf.

aaronwilson All the contract stuff with Ray is preliminary. It was overstated.

i'm going on record and saying that i don't think ray will be back next year

Is it likely they would even attempt to get Ray done before Suggs?

aaronwilson I think they will talk a little more before the season, then just table it until January and February to see where things lie. I wouldn't re-sign anyone early other than the younger guys like Suggs and Brown. I would wait to see how Bart and Ray play.

mainly because he'll want to go for an immediate contender...this team is probably 3 years away

aaronwilson I think Ray prefers to play here because they will pay him more and he has more off-field deals in Baltimore than anywhere else he would go.

I can see the Patriots or Tampa pull out the big bucks

patriots? no way. for Ray?

not imo

aaronwilson I don't think Belichick would go for Ray after already getting Jerod Mayon this year. Not happening.

that's what we all said about moss, too

moss cost them nothing

aaronwilson Not because of personality. Just don't think he'll need him.

in fact, he took a pay cut to get there and they gave upa 4th

aaron, did fabian washington continue to impress?

aaronwilson I think Baltimore would be smart to make a commitment to Bart or Ray, not both, or go young.

1,0or continue to nurse his hamstring?

aaronwilson Washington didn't practice much. Tight hamstring.

im not all that excited about Bart long term either to be honest

aaronwilson Actually didn't work at all other than maybe a few reps Friday.

aaronwilson Well, I think the future middle linebacker of this team is Tavares Gooden anyway. Blazing speed. Tough kid, big hitter.

Is Ivy ahead of Walker? It sounds like those 2 are literally fighting for the #4 spot

was just gonna say that i hope gooden pans out

aaronwilson It's neck and neck on those guys. Slight edge to Ivy.

1,0fighting...lol

aaronwilson Gooden is looking like a good pick.

No, if there is a choice to be made....even an old Ray is better than Bart. Imo.

6,0I have hopes that Bart settles back down this year. Hopefully when he looks back on last season he'll be humbled.

all he'll have to do is watch tape of himself play. if that doesn't humble him, nothign will.

Bart is definitely humbled from last year. Should bounce back fine.

i don't think harbaugh is going to put up with that kind of crap that Bart pulled

aaronwilson Bart is being more low-key now, less joking around. More politically correct, boring interviews.

1,0he sure showed that penalty flag...

aaronwilson Not a coincidence.

6,0I expect a big year out of Bart. PSU....it'll be interesting to see how Harbaugh does handle stuff like that if it happens

I still think that chucking that flag had more to do with the beer bottle that almost hit him than the call by the ref.

i dont

1,0Troy or KB

aaron, who do you think has the edge as the #3 running back?

aaronwilson Slight edge to Troy right now.

1,0Who has a better chance of making the final 53 man roster: Wheelwright or Reed?

aaronwilson Best third back right now is Cory Ross, but he's too much like Rice. Could wind up being Allen Patrick just because of special teams.

PJ Daniels on the outs?

PJ Daniels is out?

aaronwilson Practice squad maybe for Wheelwright aaronwilson Yes, Daniels could get cut.

hmmm

aaronwilson Hasn't done anything in the NFL yet.

Will need a stellar training camp to stick around.

1,0What about Ross

aaronwilson He had better volunteer for every special teams unit. Is Rice even quicker than Ross?

aaronwilson Ross is a scrappy kid, hard worker, Harbs seems to like him, but he's too identical to Rice.

aaronwilson You want a contrast with reserves. Really early to project roster cuts, but you can see how some situations will play out.

PSURaven how is flacco's mobility so far? Still no takers for Musa? Seems he would be a good change of pace and he is a good ST contributor.

1,0Leonhard not making final cut in your opinion?

aaronwilson Flacco has nice footwork, quick choppy steps.

aaronwilson Musa hasn't had any offers. Best chance was Jets, but it didn't pan out.

aaronwilson I think Leonhard could make it for special teams.


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