As camp nears, Ravens awaiting three draft picks

Reed, Weaver, Hunter have yet to come to terms

practice begins tomorrow

Pro Football

July 25, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' bumpy off-season road may not end with the start of training camp.

When players report to McDaniel College today, Ravens officials are prepared for a couple of no-shows, with their top two draft choices possibly among the missing. The team has not reached deals with three picks: safety Ed Reed (first round), defensive end Tony Weaver (second round) and receiver Javin Hunter (sixth round).

"We are in constant communication with the three remaining players," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of football operations, "and there is still reason to believe they will have the opportunity to be on the practice field Friday."

Reed, who was adamant about reporting to camp on time last month, has told his agents he wants to be at the Ravens' first practice tomorrow.

"I would be stressing [out] if it was Thursday and I'm still in Miami," said Reed, who wanted to fly into town Tuesday but was advised against the early trip by his agents. "I'm in shape and ready to go. It's only a matter of time."

Going by the league slotting system, the deals should be easily resolved.

However, Reed's agent, Jeff Moorad, said the league's slotting system isn't that cut and dried.

"It's been like trying to hit a moving target," said Moorad, who is flying to Miami to update Reed in person today. "Once we agree to a structure, the dollar amounts will fall into place quickly. But I just don't see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Since the four picks ahead of him have been signed, Reed is projected to receive a five-year deal worth $6.5 million with a signing bonus of a little more than $3 million. Weaver is looking at a four-year, $2.5 million contract with a $1.2 million signing bonus, and Hunter is expected to land a three-year, $950,000 deal with a $45,000 bonus.

Ravens coach Brian Billick offered a warning to potential holdouts.

"Any young player that misses training camp in this camp is really hurting themselves," Billick said. "Every coach is going to give that same answer. But it really wouldn't make sense given the nature of this team. All you're doing is opening the door for another young athlete to have that many more opportunities to show that he can get the job done. It would not be a smart thing to do."

Reed agreed with Billick's stance.

"[My agents] know how I feel about missing practice," Reed said. "The Ravens have had me starting when I first stepped foot there, and I feel it's my obligation to be there on time. If I'm not, that's when I lose my position and am not ahead of the next guy. I would be playing catch-up, and that's not a position I want to be in."

Reed and Weaver are expected to be starters in the Ravens' rebuilding defense, and Hunter likely will play on special teams. The agents for Weaver and Hunter did not return phone messages yesterday.

Despite the possible absences, Billick is focused on how he will address his team at tonight's meeting.

Looking at 45 rookies making up his 82-man roster, Billick will speak on how youth can prevail in hard times. He will point to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier that recently completed a 189-day mission in Afghanistan with 200 of its 5,500-person crew just a year removed from high school.

"Don't use youth as an excuse, because those people had to step up and do their jobs in a way they probably couldn't fathom a year ago," Billick said. "Yes, we are going to be a young team. That doesn't mean it's not going to be a talented team. That doesn't mean it's not going to be a good team."

NOTES: The Ravens reached a deal with their seventh-round pick, quarterback Wes Pate. The team's projected third-string quarterback, Pate agreed to a three-year, $934,000 contract that included a $29,000 signing bonus. ... The Ravens claimed rookie guard Mike Collins off waivers from the Chicago Bears and signed seven rookie or first-year free agents: guards Lance Clelland (McDonogh School) and Jim Jones, receiver Marc Lester (Morgan State), fullback Marvin Brown, defensive back Chonn Lacey, offensive tackle Dave Pruce and linebacker Casey Tisdale. The team also cut fullback Morgan Kane and long snapper Mike Kraemer.

Camp glance

What: Ravens training camp

Where: McDaniel College, Westminster

When: Tomorrow to Aug. 21. Tomorrow's and Saturday's practices are non-contact; first full-contact practice is Monday.

Directions and parking: From Baltimore, take Interstate 695 (Baltimore Beltway) to Exit 19 onto I-795 North (Northwest Expressway), continue to its completion. Follow signs to Westminster via Route 140 West to Route 31 South; at blinking traffic light, turn left (Route 31); at first traffic light, turn left onto Main Street. Proceed up the hill; the entrance to Ravens visitor parking is on the left. Follow the drive around Bair Stadium and look for the signs.

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