Billick turns up intensity level

Ravens notebook

Team begins preparing and scripting for opponents

August 10, 1999|By MIKE PRESTON AND BRENT JONES | MIKE PRESTON AND BRENT JONES,SUN STAFF

As every week ticks away before the regular season opens on Sept. 12, the intensity grows in new Ravens head coach Brian Billick.

As the third week of training camp began yesterday at Western Maryland College, Billick wasted little time getting his team ready mentally and physically for the preseason opener Thursday night against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Halfway through the morning practice, Billick had a little chat with the offensive line, which was beaten consistently by its defensive counterparts.

"I was a little concerned, especially after the way we came back last week after having a day and a half off," said Billick. "It was a good, physical practice. The first defensive unit came back ready to play, but the first offense struggled a little bit.

"The offensive line wasn't sharp and the defensive line jumped on them. Maybe I said too many nice things about them last week. They have been one of our most solid units since camp started. So I had to tell them it was time to get started and re-establish themselves."

Billick said yesterday was the end of training camp practices and now the Ravens would start preparing and scripting for opponents.

The Ravens' second- and third-string units will start emulating the opponents' offenses and defenses. Billick ended yesterday's practice with his third offense driving down the field in live action against the defense. He wanted to simulate the final quarter of a preseason game.

"Everything will be scripted for Philly," said Billick. "This was the last Ravens-on-Ravens practice to determine who can do what. I think this team understands the situation of where we need to be. You can only give them situations and that's what it may be like Thursday night. Our No. 3 offense may have to drive down the field to pull the game out."

Boulware responds

Ravens outside linebacker Peter Boulware chuckled at the quotes from Cleveland and former Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown talking about how he anticipated their matchup in the regular season.

It was typical Brown.

"He is one of the best tackles in the conference and it will be a great battle, a challenge to go against him," said Boulware. "The talking, well, that's his style. He tries to intimidate, maul people to death. But I can't be concerned about that. I can't let him get me out of my game."

Brown, by his own admission the past two years, is one of the dirtiest players in the game. He hinted that he might go after Boulware's injured shoulder, which has kept him out of training camp thus far. Brown, though, has his own history of injuries. He has had ankle problems and trouble blocking speed rushers like, uh, Boulware.

"If you worry about stuff like that [cheap shots] then that gets you out of your game," said Boulware. "But that's what smart players do -- take advantage of where you're weak. If you see a vulnerable area, then you attack it."

McCloud steps up

Reserve middle linebacker Tyrus McCloud has been impressive in training camp, showing mobility that he hasn't had the first two seasons. McCloud has dropped from 250 to 235 pounds.

"I had some off-season knee surgery and I was told that I didn't have the mobility that I once had," said McCloud. "So they told me it might be better if I lost some weight to take some pressure off my knee. I feel a lot better, faster and quicker."

McCloud had 26 tackles last season, most of those in a three-game stretch when starter Ray Lewis was out with an elbow injury.

Ex-Viking seeks past form

Fernando Smith started 16 games, was second on the team in sacks (9.5) and won an NFC Defensive Player of the Week award in Minnesota three seasons ago.

Now he joins the Ravens this season after an undistinguished year in Jacksonville attempting to regain that form.

Smith is working with the second unit in practice and estimates himself at 96 percent from a hernia injury suffered in 1997. The injury broke his streak of 27 straight starts for the Vikings and forced him to miss the final seven games.

"My goal now is just to win," Smith said.

"If we win, then the numbers will come. It was terrible last year coming off that injury, not healthy but wanting to prove everybody wrong. Things just didn't work out how I planned it."

He decided to rejoin Billick, who was the offensive coordinator at Minnesota when Smith was there. Smith said Billick wanted him to come in and show the team how Billick runs his practices, especially the younger linemen. It is a reverse from his days with the Vikings.

"I remember playing with Chris Doleman, and I was the youngest one," Smith said. "Now I'm out here trying to teach these young bucks how to work. It's kind of strange."

Burnett praises staff

The elder statesman of the Ravens, Rob Burnett, has been through nine other camps with the team and said there was never a higher team morale than this one.

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