New Ravens Insider VIP Q&A column

OWINGS MILLS -- All the answers to your burning questions about the Baltimore Ravens in our latest deluxe edition of our mailbag column.

Question: Have the Ravens, as a whole, bought in' to new Head Coach John Harbaugh's philosophies with respect to work ethic, discipline, and accountability? How has changing the players' lockers around changed the mindset of the players up to this point? How do the offensive players seem to be comprehending the playbook Cameron has installed (and does it include any "trick plays")? What should we expect from this training camp as far as potentially emerging players in controversial situations (i.e. QB)?

Answer: In my opinion and based on talking to a lot of veteran players, they are, for the majority, buying into his philosophy and disciplinary initiatives. The idea behind changing the lockers around was to be more inclusive and promote camraderie. I've witnessed offensive and defensive players chatting and joking around and getting along, so I think it does help increase the rapport and relationships on the team. As far as the playbook, they are definitely challenged by the thickness and complexity, but seem to be catching on at a decent rate, especially Joe Flacco who has proven to be a quick study. They did run a Statue of Liberty play and I have seen some option looks. As far as controversy, I could foresee some younger players pushing for playing time like Antwan Barnes but I don't consider that to be controversial.

Question: Rice was drafted as McGahee's back up, but is there a belief in the FO that he can shoulder the load when WM's time in Baltimore is done? Personally I believe he can.

Answer: They believe in his durability, but would likely complement him because of his lack of ideal size with another bigger runner.

Question: Speaking of Willis what is the status of his conditioning?

Answer: Honestly, his stamina has been an issue and the coaching staff wasn't thrilled that he missed so many offseason activities. He looked okay as usual, but you wonder about his lung capacity sometimes.

Question: I have heard that Cameron really likes the way LeRon McClain runs the ball. This could really squeeze a guy like Ross, Green, or Daniels off the team. Where do you see the RB depth chart, behind Willis and Rice, as of now? Thanks.

Answer: At this point, I don't foresee any one-back formations for McClain. So, I see the depth chart shaking out like this: McGahee, Rice, Ross, Daniels, Patrick. Obviously, that's subject to change. Ross has gotten a ton of reps and really played better than Daniels and Patrick, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, thus far.

Question: How is Prescott Burgess looking in camp? Is he getting buried behind Gooden and Barnes?

Answer: Actually, Prescott Burgess doesn't play the same position as Barnes, who is an outside linebacker. In terms of reps, he has run with the second team a lot along with Nick Greisen and Tavares Gooden. Ultimately, I see Gooden supplanting the other backups inside. He is currently Bart Scott's backup. Burgess looks more fluid and quicker than a year ago. Still about the same size, but in better shape.

Question: Is it likely that Fabian Washington will push Rolle for a starting job?

Answer: I think it will take some time for Fabian to push Rolle out. Samari's epilepsy has been under control and he has looked sharp in offseason minicamps. Washington is a good acquisition, but he needs to prove his toughness and tackling to become a starter. Of course, any health issues to Rolle or McAlister and he'll be on the field.

Question: Between now and when training camp starts, will most of the players take a "total break" from football or will many of them still be around Owings Mills working out, studying, etc.?

Answer: Most of the players work out on their own and aren't at the facility, because of NFL rules. They study and work out on their own. A lot of players, the smart ones, use July to get in top shape so they can peak when they report to camp.

Question: Mike Preston mentioned in his Saturday article that kicker, Piotr Czech, has been impressive. What are your thoughts on Czech and his chances as a potential heir apparent/kickoff specialist?

Answer: I think he's promising, but practice is a static atmosphere and we don't know how he'll respond to the pressure of a game. I don't think Stover has anything to worry about. Czech has a strong leg and could contend for the kickoff job. Matt told me recently that he hasn't been told yet if he's going to be on kickoffs or not and is preparing to handle those duties again.

Question: If Dan Cody makes it to the final 53, whoose roster spot could be at risk?

Answer: Gary Stills, potentially.

Question: Besides Flacco, are there any other rookies you consider a lock to make the roster? And, if so, who are they going to knock off it?

Answer: Ray Rice, Tom Zbikowski, Tavares Gooden, Marcus Smith, Haruki Nakamura with David Hale and Justin Harper as probables. I could see Jim Leonhard Jim Leonhard possibly being edged out, P.J. Daniels, Mike Kracalik, etc..

Question: Is there a scrimmage scheduled for this preseason and who is it against? Will it be televised? Thanks again.

Answer: There is no scrimmage this year.

Question: How is Ayenbadejo looking? Is there room for both he and Stills or could Stills be the odd man out? Same for Ivy?

Answer: Ayanbadejo is a really good athlete and football player who should immediately upgrade the special teams. He's really not much of a linebacker, though. I think Corey Ivy will still make the team and I wouldn't rule out Gary Stills even though it's kind of a long shot.

Question: Their was an interesting quote in a SI article about Harbaugh, it stated "Harbaugh has adopted a challenging, confrontational style at times with his players, sources said, even squaring off face-to-face with one defensive team leader who got mouthy with him in the midst of one particularly heated practice. One source called it a potential "corner-turning'' moment for the team." Do you know who the defensive leader was and what exactly transpired?

Answer: It was Jarret Johnson, I'm told, and it was quickly diffused. However, Harbs didn't hesitate to confront Jarret about trash-talking the offense. He made it clear that he wouldn't stand for it anymore. He also pointed out to JJ that the defense ranked in the bottom half of the league in points allowed last year when JJ said something like, 'Do you know how great we've been around here on defense?' It was a bold move and it quickly silenced JJ. Harbs knows JJ has a good attitude, but he made his point clear and it was accepted. In the past, Billick would have avoided saying anything and the defense vs. offense rift would have deepened. It's a new day, and a new sheriff.

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


Ravens Insider Top Stories