Ravens minicamp: McLaughlin could fill a need

OWINGS MILLS - It didn't take long for the Baltimore Ravens to begin recruiting hard-hitting Boston College linebacker Mike McLaughlin. Shortly after the Ravens turned in the card to select Morehouse offensive tackle Ramon Harewood in the sixth round for their final draft pick, coach John Harbaugh was on the telephone with McLaughlin.

The hard-sell approach worked as McLaughlin signed a free agent deal with the Ravens after receiving interest from the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions.

"Coach Harbaugh definitely made it clear that they wanted me in Baltimore," McLaughlin said in a telephone interview. "He called about three or four times, and he was very persuasive and honest with me. He told me that they wanted to look at me at linebacker and fullback and on special teams, and he told me this would be a great fit for me.

"I'm very happy with my decision. The Ravens are a great organization and they seem like the perfect place for me. I'm all about hitting hard, running around and playing the game the right away. That's what they've established in Baltimore with guys like Ray Lewis. I can't wait to get started."

McLaughlin arrived in Baltimore on Thursday for a physical and will hit the field today for a mandatory minicamp, which will include most of the Ravens' veteran players, seven draft picks as well as several undrafted rookies and players invited on a tryout basis.

The Ravens have a need for a backup to Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain after recently cutting Charles Ali and shifting Edgar Jones back to outside linebacker.

McLaughlin has also been practicing his long snapping.

"I played fullback in high school and it's a lot of fun," McLaughlin said. "Any position where you get to hit somebody is right up my alley. I'll play anywhere they want me to."

The 6-foot, 242-pounder rushed for 1,005 yards and 22 touchdowns as a high school senior in Woburn, Mass.

At Boston College, he was strictly a middle linebacker. He recorded 221 career tackles and 19½ tackles for losses. As a junior, he recorded 89 tackles, four sacks and a dozen tackles for losses.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered before his senior year limited McLaughlin to nine starts and 56 tackles last season. The Eagles' defensive captain was invited to the East-West Shrine game. A slow 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, a clocking between 4.84 and 4.87 seconds, hurt McLaughlin's draft prospects.

"I would have been drafted if I had run faster," said McLaughlin, who bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times and registered a 38½-inch vertical leap. "I can run in the 4.7 range, so it's not like I'm slow. I play the game with instincts and I play hard. It's about having heart and toughness and being smart. It's football, not a track meet."

McLaughlin said a major reason why he chose the Ravens is their history of developing undrafted players, including linebackers Bart Scott and Dannell Ellerbe, center Mike Flynn and safety Will Demps.

"I saw a lot of inside linebackers get drafted that I thought I should have gone ahead of," McLaughlin said. "I was getting mad during the draft. All it does is motivate me. I'll keep that in mind when I'm on the field."

Here are some other topics of conversation as the Ravens conduct their first offseason minicamp:

MICHAEL OHER ON THE MOVE: The Ravens are expected to line Oher up at left offensive tackle with the first-string offense at times during the minicamp, alternating him with Jared Gaither.

Gaither, who battled ankle, foot and neck injuries last season, with Oher starting five games on the left side in his place, could step in for Oher at right tackle as well as Oniel Cousins.

SIDELINED: Several players aren't expected to practice as they recover from injuries, including free safety Ed Reed (hip surgery), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (pectoral surgery), cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (knee surgery) and Fabian Washington (knee surgery), and safety Haruki Nakamura (fibula surgery).

Reed just had his hip surgery in Colorado last week, so he won't be attending the minicamp at all.

The Ravens will have Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr as the starting cornerbacks, with Tom Zbikowski substituting for Reed.

Two other players on the mend from offseason shoulder surgeries are nose guard Kelly Gregg and linebacker Jarret Johnson.

Gregg isn't expected to participate as he won't be 100 percent until later this month or early June.

FLACCO TO BOLDIN: Quarterback Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin have been working together on a regular basis during throwing sessions and quarterback schools ever since the Ravens traded for the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.

Today will mark their first official practice together.

UNDRAFTED CLASS: Besides McLaughlin, the Ravens have signed several other undrafted rookie free agents.

That includes Central Washington cornerback Courtney Smith, a Division II standout. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder recorded 71 tackles and two interceptions with a dozen pass deflections in two seasons. He has run the 40-yard dash in the high 4.3 to low 4.4 range and is expected to audition as a punt returner.

The Ravens have also agreed to deals with UNLV wide receiver Rodelin Anthony, Tennessee long snapper Morgan Cox, Wyoming defensive end John Fletcher, Marshall safety Ashton Hall, Marshall outside linebacker-defensive end Albert McClellan, Georgia cornerback Prince Miller and Memphis running back Curtis Steele.

The Ravens have also invited University of Florida cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis to try out at the minicamp as well as Alabama running back Roy Upchurch and Elizabeth City State wide receiver and kick returner Reggie Smith.

Pierre-Louis recently tried out for the New York Giants at their minicamp, but wasn't signed. He was a backup at Florida, but runs a 4.4. He's an experienced gunner on special teams.

Pierre-Louis went undrafted following a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend in January.

He pleaded no contest to two counts of criminal mischief and received a year of probation.

NOTE: Former Ravens receiver Qadry Ismail has joined the team's official radio broadcasts at WBAL, replacing former Baltimore defensive end Rob Burnett. Ismail hosts a radio show at WBAL and has worked at ESPN for several years.

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