Bringing up rear is no problem for Harris, Mitchell

Ravens notebook

Two safeties provide only new look on defense during camp

April 29, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The last line of the defense is the only difference.

Nine of the Ravens' 11 defensive starters are getting a chance to run around together this weekend for the first time since the unit's record-setting year last season.

The only changes in this three-day minicamp come in safeties Anthony Mitchell, who starts in place of the unsigned Rod Woodson, and Corey Harris, in for Kim Herring, who left via free agency.

"It's exciting," Mitchell said. "Rod not being here is giving me a chance to learn a whole lot so when I get to camp, I'll be further [along] than where I was last year. With the first team, you can see how fast things are going and you have to know your stuff out there."

Running with the first team is new for Mitchell, but not so new for Harris, who started two playoff games last season when Herring was injured. Herring signed with St. Louis last month but Harris, said he is not approaching this year like he already has the job.

"The minute you approach the situation like you already have the job, somebody that wants it more than you will get it," Harris said. "I have to have more preparation mentally and more physically because I'm getting older but my knowledge of the game is better."

Harris enters his 10th season, having played wide receiver, running back, cornerback, free safety and strong safety at various points. This will be his fourth season with the Ravens.

"Being in the same position in the same system has allowed me to learn," Harris said. "Finally I can concentrate on one thing. My versatility has been sort of a double-edged sword. It has kept me around in this league, but it also has made me someone who is a jack of all trades, and earlier, not a master of any of them."

Harris will likely team with Woodson once he signs, making Mitchell the backup heading into training camp. Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome said last week during the draft that Woodson's contract is near completion.

"Woodson, barring him dying or something, will be playing for the Baltimore Ravens next year," Newsome said.

'Canes all around

Cornerback Duane Starks and linebacker Ray Lewis now have an offensive counterpart.

Left guard Kipp Vickers and left tackle Leon Searcy played together at the University of Miami, as Starks and Lewis did years later.

Vickers takes the place of Mike Flynn, who switched to center to replace Jeff Mitchell. Searcy signed as a free agent and will start in place of Harry Swayne, now a backup. Vickers and Searcy helped take the Hurricanes to the national title game in 1992.

"I feel pretty comfortable next to him," Vickers said of Searcy. "Leon was a year older in college. When I played defense my first two years, we used to go up against each other. Then my junior year, they moved me over [to offense], so we played right next to each other."

Illness slows Rabach

Center Casey Rabach left the afternoon practice 30 minutes early. Rabach was treated for light-headedness and had some further tests done later in the evening.

Trainer Bill Tessendorf blamed Rabach's trouble on an illness. Rabach was the Ravens' third-round draft choice out of Wisconsin this year. He spoke before the practice about how well he thought things were going.

"So far things are going pretty good," Rabach said. "The organization is great. I couldn't be in a better position now."

Et cetera

Yesterday was the only two-session practice day of the minicamp. ... Starks left the afternoon practice early after hurting his shoulder. The Ravens do not believe the injury to be serious, but Starks will have a magnetic resonance imaging test today. ... The Ravens were fitted for their Super Bowl rings. The ceremony is scheduled for June 9.

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