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OWINGS MILLS -- Questions and answers regarding the Baltimore Ravens. Subscribers, please keep reading for further details.

Question: With the addition of a clock during practices for the offense, can we expect to see a better Ravens defense against the no huddle this season?

Answer: I do think the increased tempo of practice prompted by Cam Cameron's demand for a quicker pace could also benefit the defense in those no-huddle situations. So far, it has been more competitive in team drills during offseason minicamps.

Question: Has the Special Teams unit been practicing blocking punts and field goals? Can we assume this revamped unit will allow for better starting field position for the offensive and defensive units?

Answer: They had a special-teams camp that was closed to reporters, but Jerry Rosburg is an aggressive special-teams coach who will go after the football. I think the special-teams units will be much improved this year.

Question: Now that Jason Brown has been tabbed as starting C for the first team (co-incidentally, the position where he excelled as a Tar Heel) will the F. O. work to ensure he is a long-term Raven now?

Answer: I've reported that Jason Brown's agent and the Ravens have both mutually expressed a desire to strike a long-term deal. I tend to think they'll get something done. Brown's representative also is the agent for linebacker Bart Scott, so he has negotiated a contract extension with Baltimore in the recent past.

Question: Does it look like Koch is going to be able to handle the kick off duties this year; since Stover's leg isnt as strong as it use to be?

Answer: I asked Jerry Rosburg about this yesterday and he said they have yet to determine their plan or practice kickoffs yet. I think it could be Matt Stover again unless the numbers work out to keep one of the rookie kickers as a kickoff specialist. There hasn't been any indication that they are looking at Sam Koch to kick off yet. I will keep checking on this. We'll know more at training camp when they have full special-teams practices open to the public.

Question: I haven't heard anything about Jarrett Johnson; how is he doing under the new regime? Is there a chance someone like Antwann Barnes could take up some his playing time? Also, wouldn't Antwann also be better suited to cover the pass and run; because Jarrett is only best suited cover the run?

Answer: At this point, JJ is entrenched as a starter at strongside linebacker. I don't see Antwan Barnes taking his job. He has been exclusively playing Terrell Suggs position. Your point about the players' strengths is well-taken, but JJ seems safe for now.

Question: Also, I since the ravens have been using three receivers sets in practice; do you think that will have an effect on how much playing time Heap gets? In addition, since we have two capable backs doesnt that also mean that we will probably run the ball even more; or will Rice be a 3rd down back to give McGahee a break?

Answer: I don't see Todd Heap's playing time being reduced. I think he's a three-down tight end. He's also capable of playing receiver in three wide receive sets. I think they are going to run the football more, yes. Rice is being groomed as a third-down back and a complementary running threat.

Question: The Ravens certainly have alot of options with Linebackers these days; I was wondering what your thoughts are with the new guy Tavares Gooden. Do you think he could one day adequately fill Rays shoes? Do you think they could convince Ray to take on the challenge of moving from player to coach; by starting to coach up this kid? Does he have the intangibles in your opinion to take it to the next level? I think if the Ravens have a winning record and we also make the playoffs; means Ray Lewis stays in Baltimore. What do you think?

Answer: I've been impressed with Tavares Gooden's speed and aggressiveness and pursuit angles. I think he was their best Day II pick. He is currently Bart Scott's backup. I think he could eventually play middle linebacker if he adds weight. No, I don't think Ray Lewis will ever want to be a coach because of the low pay and hours involved. I'm sure he'll help him, though, as he has helped numerous other young players. I think Gooden is an outstanding prospect. As far as Ray Lewis' future, it will depend largely on whether he's reasonable on contract demands.

Question: Aaron, what's your take on Edgar Jones taking reps at TE during the most recent passing camp? Was that done just because of how thin the depth had gotten or is there actually a chance he could see some time there in training camp or preseason or even beyond?

Answer: He volunteered to play tight end because of low numbers with injuries to Quinn Sypniewski (knee), Daniel Wilcox (toe surgery), Lee Vickers (hand), Scott Kuhn (broken thumb) and Jake Nordin moving to fullback. He played the position in high school and played very well considering how long it has been. With Kuhn back at this passing camp, Jones moved back to outside linebacker. They could always call on him again if the need arises.

Question: How's this year's crop of rookie wide outs looking? Any surprises coming in August?

Answer: My initial scouting report on the rookie wideouts goes like this: Marcus Smith, big, tough slot wide receiver, inconsistent hands so far; Justin Harper, progressing quickly, tall red-zone threat, getting more playing time than Smith during offseason minicamps. Ernie Wheelwright has great size and good hands, but I wonder if he's fast enough to create separation. Patrick Carter is really fast, has impressed the coaches. I could see Harper emerging in a specialized role and Smith should be a stalwart on special teams.

Question: Anything to read into Boller taking more snaps with the first team?

Answer: I think it was basically his turn. There have been other practices where Smith took the majority of the first-string snaps.

Question: Has Terry been working in the off season at RT in terms of footwork? Does it mean competition is open or more that Terry has to lose it before there is a shake-up (Cousins or Yanda)? thanks Answer: Terry has been practicing going to his right. Despite what Cam Cameron said, I think they will give Oniel Cousins a long look. Terry is far from a sure thing on the right side given his poor history there. One thing I think will help him is he has added some good weight. Keep in mind they can always go back to Marshal Yanda at right tackle or try Cousins there if Terry falters.

Question: If "Camp Harbaugh" is tough and we have a bunch of pre-season injuries, who would be first to pull Jim aside and say "Harbs…ease up some," Rex or Cam? Do we have our future field goal kicker in camp?

Answer: I don't think a tough camp is automatically a trigger effect for injuries. Harbs has already said the team will work smart and not overwork older veterans, but, yes, there will be some injuries. It's inevitable. I would tend to think Cam Cameron as an older coach and a mentor to Harbs would be the more likely coach to offer some advice and guidance. As far as the kicking candidates behind veteran Matt Stover, I've seen nothing to indicate that he's going to be unseated. We'll get a much better indicator during the afternoon special-teams practices at training camp.

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


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