Lining up for a learning experience Ravens explore city, system in minicamp

April 25, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

It's get-acquainted time for the Baltimore Ravens.

The two-week period begins tomorrow, when the Ravens hold a 14-day minicamp to meet their new coach and his playbook, as well as a new city.

"I can honestly say I've never seen anything like this," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda. "Even for me, I've lived here before, and the downtown area has changed tremendously. The Inner Harbor seems to be the way a lot of cities need to go.

"That's one of the reasons we're going for 14 days," said Marchibroda. "We need to get acquainted, and it gives the players three weekends to find some housing."

On the field, Marchibroda and staff will begin implementing philosophies and schemes. This will not be a bone-jarring, jaw-breaking camp. The players, about 70 of them, aren't allowed to wear pads except for helmets.

It's school time again, with players participating in individual drills and attending a lot of meetings.

Offensively, the Ravens will use multiple sets, but their base offense will be the one-back set.

"Right now, our playbook is about 85 to 95 percent done, which is more than enough for the material we plan to cover in two weeks," said Marchibroda.

"It's important for us to get the terminology down and get familiar with the pass routes."

The one-back set seems to cater to Baltimore's strength, because the team is short on running backs, and the feature-back duties could be split between Earnest Byner, 33, Earnest Hunter and Leroy Hoard.

The formation also would enable the Ravens to spread the field with four wide receivers, and take advantage of wide-outs Michael Jackson, Andre Rison and Derrick Alexander, something the team didn't do last year.

A season ago, wide receivers accounted for 55 percent of the Browns' 324 receptions, but most of those came in desperation during a 5-11 season.

The Browns were also predictable, trying to muscle teams with a two-tight-end offense.

"I think we'll open it up, from what I've seen in Indy," said Jackson, referring to Marchibroda's offense with the Colts last season. "I can only say this about my group, but I don't think we were used correctly. I think we have some receivers who can make big plays."

Alexander said: "I'm not sure how much things are going to change. Hopefully, we'll throw it around a lot more than last year."

Alexander will play a key role. When

the Ravens go to the four-receiver package, Alexander could be the player in motion trying to draw the mismatches -- drawing coverage from a linebacker.

"They will be a big part of our offense," said Marchibroda.

The two weeks will be helpful in adding two new faces to the offensive line. Jonathan Ogden, the team's No. 1 draft pick, will start at left guard, and right guard Jeff Blackshear, obtained in the off-season from the Seattle Seahawks, eventually will battle Wally Williams for a starting position.

The Ravens have one of the biggest offensive lines in the league, but no one knows how good.

"This camp will be about fundamentals, and getting a feel for each other," said Blackshear. "There is just a lot of different things we need to know."

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde will get a crash course. He'll have to learn every facet of the offense. Marchibroda said the team won't work much on the no-huddle offense, but the terminology was the same as the regular set.

"We want to be patient, and not go too quickly," said Marchibroda. "The terminology is the most important thing. A trap is still a trap, and most of the run plays are basically the same. It's just a matter of knowing what to call them."

"I'm expecting them to install, more or less, the basics of Coach Marchibroda's offense, but I don't think he will throw too much on the guys," said Jackson.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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