Notebook: Cameron pleased with progress

WESTMINSTER -- Moments after a practice where rookie running back Ray Rice leapt over the top for a touchdown and his quarterbacks had some positive moments, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron expressed optimism about the state of the Baltimore Ravens' offense. Although he still needs to pick a quarterback, has a shaky tackle situation and lacks a dominant wide receiver, Cameron isn't panicking.

"We're getting tremendous leadership out of some guys on offense," said Cameron, singling out wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap, center Jason Brown and offensive tackle Adam Terry for praise. "But we're just getting started. Camp has been really positive so far, and now we have to keep getting better."

Improvement is definitely needed under center, where Steve McNair's abrupt retirement has left Baltimore pondering the merits of Kyle Boller, Troy Smith and imposing rookie Joe Flacco.

No one has really stood out in the competition so far.

"It's a little early," Cameron said. "They're all competitors, and they're all talented in their own way. We're really not tailoring anything to a guy who's in there.

"We're just inserting plays right now. To get any separation between the three right now would be really difficult. Until we start playing preseason games, how would we know?"

Meanwhile, the Ravens sorely need depth at tackle.

With left tackle Jared Gaither out with a sprained ankl e, Terry has shifted from right tackle to the left side. However, Terry is still gimpy after offseason ankle surgery.

Terry was beaten badly on a spin move by Jarret Johnson for a sack. His ankle didn't allow him to wall off the charging outside linebacker.

Antwan Barnes sacked Boller twice.

The best offensive tackle in camp is probably coaching intern Roman Oben, a retired former NFL starter. Oben has a lengthy history of injuries, though, and is unlikely to play again.

"Is depth a concern at this point in time?" Cameron said. "We're just trying to get everything we can out of every guy."

Cameron has been encouraged by the progress of the receivers after a lot of drops when camp opened.

"We haven't caught the ball as well as we need to, and then I think they stepped it up today and made some plays," he said. "At times, it's not going to be enough separation against our defense. But we have improved."

INJURY UPDATE: Nose guard Kelly Gregg injured his left leg during a live drill. He was limping badly through the lobby of the team hotel with his leg taped up from the knee down.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is already sidelined with a mild sprained medial collateral ligament. He was seen wearing a knee brace and was limping slightly.

The injuries leave the team without both interior starters. Running back Willis McGahee returned to practice with his left knee wrapped after missing Sunday. He was rested as practice wore on.

"When he's practiced, obviously he's a guy that we're going to lean on tremendously," Cameron said. "There is a process, and Willis and I have talked.

"We're in communication in meetings and he is learning the system. He is one of the brighter guys that I've been around as a running back, and that's encouraging."

Cornerback David Pittman (foot) practiced after being activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Offensive tackle David Hale returned from an injury.

Not practicing: tight end Daniel Wilcox (offseason toe surgery, PUP), safety Ed Reed (undisclosed, PUP), who is running on his own, Gaither, defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker (undisclosed), running backs P.J. Daniels (cramps) and Cory Ross (arm) and wide receiver Demetrius Williams (leg).

HEAVY WORKLOAD: With Wilcox not ready, Heap is taking a ton of snaps.

He's not complaining, though.

"Not a lot of bodies," he said. "We were down to two tight ends, which was tough. It's only going to get me in better shape, that's for sure."

QUICK HITS: Kicker Matt Stover went 4 for 7 on field goals, connecting from 20, 39, 42 and 43 yards while missing from 47, 50 and 53 yards. Each miss was wide right. ... During a special-teams practice, the team took the unusual step of having linebacker Ray Lewis cover a few kickoffs. ... Rookie linebacker Tavares Gooden ran through fullback Le'Ron McClain's block to topple running back Allen Patrick in a pass-rush drill. ... Defensive end Dan Cody briefly left the field with a sore leg, but returned to post a sack. ... The Ravens broke out bright green exercise balls for core exercises in the end zone after practice, a new development under John Harbaugh. ... Linebackers, tight ends, running backs, safeties and kickers are lifting weights after practice and will be unavailable for autographs.

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


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