Draft picks, free agents get a handle on team Orientation, 5 practices set stage for summer camp

Ravens notebook

April 29, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston | Gary Lambrecht and Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Cornerback DeRon Jenkins described his first weekend with his first professional team as a crash course. Guard Jonathan Ogden agreed, and pronounced himself "miles ahead" of where he was on Friday. Wide receiver Curtis Brown just tried not to put additional pressure on himself.

The Baltimore Ravens' opening minicamp ended for the team's seven 1996 draft picks and 19 other free-agent rookies %o yesterday. During three days, they combined hours of study with five practices to digest the Ravens' offensive and defensive schemes, laying the groundwork for training camp.

Ogden, Baltimore's top draft pick who is making the switch from left tackle to left guard, said the first stage of his orientation went smoothly.

"It would have been new to me no matter where I was playing. I was ready to go [on Friday]. I just didn't know anything," said Ogden, who added that Baltimore's pass-protection schemes have been especially challenging. "With all of the meetings and film work, it's gotten to the point where I'm a lot farther ahead than I would have been if I wasn't here in minicamp."

Jenkins, the Ravens' second-round pick, said this weekend reminded him of the transition he had to make from high school to the University of Tennessee, where he honed his trade while covering strong receivers that always populate the Southeastern Conference.

"The only thing that bothers me is not knowing the defense like I want to, because I can't play it yet without thinking too much," Jenkins said. "Once I get to that point, my performance will go up. I'm a little tentative on some coverages.

"I was expecting to go against good receivers here, but one good thing is I've had to cover good receivers every year at Tennessee. I've faced people like Eric Moulds [a first-round pick from Mississippi State] and [Alabama's] Curtis Brown. I have the talent to do what they [the Ravens] want me to do."

Brown is one of the free agents who hoped to make a good impression in Owings Mills. Brown approached the minicamp with the idea of learning whatever he could from veterans such as Andre Rison and Michael Jackson, and in turn warranting an invitation to the Ravens' rookie minicamp in early June.

"Andre Rison is a guy I looked up to and always wanted to be like. I always wanted to make plays like Michael Jackson does," Brown said. "I'm learning something new from those guys every day."

Ogden said he has received his share of good-natured ribbing from some veterans.

"They've been on me a little bit, trying to ask me for loans and stuff," he said.

Loans? Not so, said veteran tackle Orlando Brown, who hinted Ogden will be called upon to tap into his soon-to-be-augmented bank account. Like over a dinner tab, for starters.

"He's going to spend some money," Brown said. "He's going to be digging deep into those pockets."

Brown would not divulge the pranks that await Ogden -- and all rookies -- in training camp, where even the top picks are not spared. Neither would left tackle Tony Jones, the nine-year veteran whom Ogden eventually will replace.

"His time is coming," Jones said. "He's a smart guy, and I'm sure he's smart enough to know that."

Byner expects better days

Veteran running back Earnest Byner expects the Ravens to fare better than the 5-11 record they posted in their final season in Cleveland. His theory revolves around the change in scenery and the coaching staff, beginning with new coach Ted Marchibroda.

"Last year [under Bill Belichick], we never did tap into the resources we had as a team," Byner said. "And I think the whole emotion of the move, the uncertainty, added to the downfall of the team. Now it's an easygoing atmosphere. I think the newness of the change will add more excitement."


Byner chipped a tooth at Saturday's morning session, but did not miss practice time. "We didn't even know about it until practice was over," Marchibroda said. "After the morning practice, he spoke to the team about paying the price, and we found out he lost a cap." . . . The Ravens have 72 players in camp. Tight end Frank Hartley was a no-show yesterday for the third straight day. Kicker Matt Stover, who left late Friday night to fly to Dallas because his wife was in labor, now is the father of a baby boy. . . . Owner Art Modell remains at the Cleveland Clinic of South Florida, where he is being treated for a blood infection. His son, David, flew from Florida to Baltimore on Saturday night, an indication that Modell's illness is not believed to be serious. David Modell said his father might be in Baltimore later this week.

Pub Date: 4/29/96

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