At `Club Billick,' the password is trust

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Curfew lifted for veterans

McAlister misses 4th day

August 04, 2004|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Despite an offseason in which the Ravens' roster sometimes resembled a police blotter, coach Brian Billick's trust in his players has not wavered.

Starting yesterday, veterans were allowed to go home at night for the remainder of the three-week training camp. For the second straight year, players can leave following afternoon practices or evening meetings and return to McDaniel College the next morning for the mandatory team breakfast. Only rookies are required to remain at the team hotel.

Billick said he had no reservations about continuing one of the most lenient schedules of any NFL camp, even though Jamal Lewis (federal drug charges), Terrell Suggs (felony assault) and Corey Fuller (felony gambling and firearm charges) are all dealing with legal issues.

"When we get to the regular season, they have their own schedule," Billick said. "It's not like we're any more at risk when we get to the regular season than now."

According to Billick, the only rule is: "Be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there."

Ravens left guard Edwin Mulitalo gets a feeling for how fortunate he is by talking to friends on other NFL teams who have to stay in college dormitories for weeks and undergo nightly bed checks.

"They call it Club Billick," said Mulitalo, who said he was planning to enjoy a quiet evening with his wife and two daughters. "But there's a reason to his madness. It's a cliche, but he believes, `You act like men and we treat you like men.' That helps us mentally."

The only incident last year occurred on one of the camp's final days, when cornerback Chris McAlister missed practice after being arrested on charges of driving under the influence in Virginia. The charges were later dismissed.

Baxter, McAlister still out

The Ravens may have to stick to their backup plan at cornerback for the time being.

In addition to Gary Baxter (hernia) being held out of team drills, McAlister missed his fourth day of camp to protest being named the team's franchise player for a second straight year. That left the Ravens with reserves Fuller and Ray Walls starting at cornerback.

"I'm pretty sure those guys can hold it down or they wouldn't be out there," said McAlister, who declined to give a timetable on his return.

Slaughter strong again

While inside linebacker Ed Hartwell (strained quadriceps) works to get back to full strength, T.J. Slaughter has taken advantage.

Slaughter, who started 29 games with Jacksonville the past four seasons, was impressive in Hartwell's starting spot for a second straight day. Although the Ravens have not been allowed to tackle yet, Slaughter nearly crossed that line with some hammering shots.

"That's just me," Slaughter said. "When I play ball, I like to hit. They don't want me to take people to the ground, but I think we should be able to lay a lick."

Hartwell may sit out Friday's intrasquad scrimmage.

Abney sits

At this rate, Lamont Brightful may keep his return specialist job by default.

In a matter of a couple of days, a four-player battle for that spot has been reduced to two players. Derek Abney sat out yesterday's workouts with a hamstring injury, just a few practices after B.J. Sams was sidelined for four weeks with a thumb injury.

"It's kind of frustrating," said Abney, a seventh-round draft pick who is listed as day-to-day. "I'm hoping this is not a big deal."

Brightful and Kareem Kelly split time fielding kicks.

End zone

Adalius Thomas wore Ray Lewis' No. 52 jersey during special teams practice. "[Fans] call me Pete [Boulware] and Ray, so I might as well wear their number," Thomas said. "Now, all I need is their check." ... To prepare for the scrimmage at McDaniel, the Ravens will have a hard-hitting goal-line session to end today's morning practice and another physical workout tomorrow.

Camp update

Thumbs up: Randy Hymes made the day's two best catches, diving to haul in a 30-yard pass, then leaping over Corey Fuller to make a 20-yard catch along the sideline. ... Kevin Johnson continued a strong day for the receivers with an over-the-shoulder grab of a pass from Kordell Stewart. ... Running back Chester Taylor lowered his shoulder before going out of bounds, knocking cornerback Lance Frazier on his back. ... Fuller showed great reaction when he ran up to stop running back Jamal Lewis behind the line. ... Injured quarterback Anthony Wright signed autographs during practice while sitting among fans on a hill.

Thumbs down: Receiver Travis Taylor dropped a 40-yard pass from Stewart in the end zone. ... A pass bounced off the chest of tight end Terry Jones. ... Josh Harris threw behind receiver Ron Johnson, who deflected the pass into the hands of cornerback Ray Walls. ... Harris continued camp's early trend of quarterbacks fumbling snaps.

Quotable: "Both are fighting their fannies off, and those are big fannies." Coach Brian Billick on the battle at right guard between 350-pound Bennie Anderson and 301-pound Casey Rabach.

Injuries: OLB Peter Boulware (knee), ILB Ed Hartwell (quadriceps), QB Wright (shoulder), CB Gary Baxter (hernia), RB B.J. Sams (thumb), TE Trent Smith (leg), CB Fred Weary (quadriceps) and WR Derek Abney (hamstring) did not practice. CB Chris McAlister (contract dispute) is not in attendance.

Today's schedule: Full-squad practices, 8:45 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Countdown to season opener: 39 days.

Ravens training camp

When: Through Aug. 24

Where: McDaniel College

Admission: Free

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