Ravens open 12-day rookie camp Classwork, instruction will be emphasized

June 04, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

On the opening day of the Ravens' first rookie minicamp yesterday, coach Ted Marchibroda observed closely as 23 free agents and draft choices worked on the fundamentals that define their positions.

Marchibroda said he has learned not to put too much stock in early impressions.

"You want to get a look at these kids, get an idea of how they work, what kind of ability they have," Marchibroda said. "But the thing I've learned is your opinion changes two or three times during training camp. A guy could look good right now, but you might never see him again after you put the pads on him."

The rookie minicamp, which will continue through June 14, is actually more of an orientation, with an emphasis on classwork and individual instruction. After meetings and film sessions, the players are split into small groups, where they go through drills under the watchful eyes of position coaches. Then, it's off to the weight room.

These two weeks serve as preparation for next month's training camp, where pads will be worn, hitting will be fierce and jobs will be won and lost.

"There's no magic to this," Marchibroda said. "The more they see, the more they get from each of the coaches, the more time they're in the classroom, the easier it's going to be on them in July."

This marks the second Baltimore appearance for rookies, who mingled with veterans at the team's Owings Mills training complex for a weekend in late April, when the Ravens began a two-week minicamp shortly after the draft.

"At minicamp [in April], we kind of got thrown in," said Jermaine Lewis, Baltimore's fifth-round pick from Maryland who is after a receiving and kick returning job. "Today, they slowed it down a lot. They explained what they wanted a little more. We have more time to focus on the little things. At training camp, I won't have to think as much. I'll just react."

Baltimore's two first-round draft picks, offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis, will not join the other rookies until training camp.

Ogden, the team's top pick, will not finish final exams at UCLA until June 14, and Lewis decided not to attend without a contract or injury protection.

"We naturally wish they were here, but that's the way the game is today," Marchibroda said. "Ogden and Lewis are bright guys. They are going to be here when the whistle blows."

One draft pick not in the Ravens' immediate plans is quarterback Jon Stark, a seventh-round pick who was projected as their No. 3 quarterback. Stark had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on May 7, and is not expected to throw again until August. Marchibroda was surprised to learn of his injury.

"He passed the combine physical, he passed his exam here and he threw the ball well in minicamp," Marchibroda said. "I asked him how he did that. He said he bit his tongue, gritted his teeth and threw. He's a tough kid. My guess is we're almost counting on him not being around. We may have to carry him [on injured reserve] all year."

Cornerback DeRon Jenkins is another injured draft pick, although not seriously so. Jenkins, taken in the second round, sprained his right ankle while working out on his own in St. Louis last week, and he aggravated the injury at yesterday's practice. He does not expect to miss any on-field time over the next two weeks.

"I've been ready to get back in the groove and start my first NFL season," said the Tennessee product. "Everything is still out in front of me. The next camp is the camp. The pads are on, the contracts are signed, you know what the team expects from you and you've got to do it."

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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