Brian Billick joked yesterday morning that his Ravens looked more like Hoosiers after their opening practice of training camp was moved inside McDaniel College's gym because of an early morning rainstorm that inundated Carroll County.
"I think we got the inbounds pass and fast break put in this morning," the Ravens' coach said, adding that something good did come out of the initial practice.
"You're always worried about that first practice, but you saw what we did," he said. "It was an exaggerated walk-through. The players got something out of it, though, and that's that they have to adapt."
Players said they didn't mind moving inside for the abbreviated workout, which lasted a little more than an hour (it was scheduled to go for about two). The highlight of the morning was running back Jamal Lewis giving defensive back Chris McAlister an abrasive bear hug after breaking through the defensive line.
"We were just out there having fun, man," said Lewis, who's coming back from a knee injury that sidelined him all last season. "I'm just trying to get everything together. We can't do too much. We just need to put our heads in the right places."
Lewis and McAlister's meeting was about the only contact to speak of, though, since full-pad workouts do not begin until Monday. It's another reason that inside or outside, it didn't really make a difference.
"The only thing we really didn't get down to was the physical part, but we weren't hitting today anyway," said All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis. "It didn't hurt anything. We had a great day."
The last time a Billick-coached team dealt with a monsoon on the first day of training camp, the 1992 Minnesota Vikings went on to win the NFC Central Division.
"There was a deluge and we went out anyway, just to prove a point," said Billick, the Vikings' tight ends coach in '92 and offensive coordinator from 1993 to 1998. "All we did was mess the field up so bad that we couldn't practice there for the rest of training camp.
"Then we went 11-5. If that's an omen, I'll take it."
The afternoon practice went off with less of a hitch, running for an hour and a half on the Bair Stadium field. The Ravens went through drills that they probably wouldn't have had if morning practice had taken place on the field. The team will again practice at 8:45 a.m. today.
Sixth-round draft pick Javin Hunter, who signed with the Ravens on Thursday, said he was glad a deal could be made before the start of training camp, helping him avoid holdout status. Defensive back Ed Reed is the only draft pick yet to sign.
"I wasn't going to stay out or anything. ... I was pretty adamant about getting out here," said Hunter, a wide receiver from Notre Dame. "I just wanted to get it done, and I expressed that to my agent. It just so happened that it was late. I'm just glad it's over with."
Hunter, who signed a three-year, $950,000 contract, which included a $45,000 signing bonus, said he was already in Baltimore yesterday so he could get to camp quicker once a deal was reached.
"I was right around the hotel getting ready to come over here to camp," he said.
Hunter, 22, will be among several newcomers competing for receiver slots. Hunter is also thought to be in the running to replace Jermaine Lewis as the Ravens' kick returner, although he didn't return kicks at Notre Dame.
The Ravens signed wide receiver Kendrick Gibson. The 6-foot, 203-pound Gibson had 88 catches for 1,736 yards in two years at Midwestern (Texas) State. ... Single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today at Ravens Stadium. ... The team's afternoon practice, the first open to the public, was attended sparsely despite the dissipation of earlier rain showers. ... Chuck Evans recently was hired as an intern coach. He was the Ravens' starting fullback in 1999.