In a drill situation, QB Harris hopes to make his point

Ravens notebook

O. Brown back at practice

After long wait, Hunter eager to get on the field

Pro Football

August 11, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Josh Harris went through his final tune-up yesterday morning.

Harris ran the two-minute offense - something he might have to do if tomorrow's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons is on the line - midway through the practice and produced mixed results.

While Harris moved the offense down to the defense's 27-yard line, the drive stalled, and the offense failed to convert a fourth-and-three.

Despite the result for the Ravens' sixth-round pick out of Bowling Green, the work was what he really needed.

"I'm pretty prepared for a two-minute situation," Harris said. "We call ourselves the fourth-quarter group. We understand that we may be in a situation like that. The coaches have done a good job in trying to prepare that group for running a two-minute drill at the end of the game."

Harris is competing with Brian Gaither for the third quarterback spot. While Harris will definitely play during the game, Gaither's status is not so certain.

Gaither did not play in last week's scrimmage, while Harris was 5-for-6 for 76 yards and a touchdown. Harris appears to have the advantage in practices thus far, so Gaither will likely have to be good against the Falcons or in next week's game at Philadelphia.

Gaither did make one of the best plays in camp when he threw a 50-yard strike for a touchdown to Todd Devoe on Monday.

"It's definitely a tough battle," said Gaither, who starred at Western Carolina. "Being that I'm a free agent, I'm going to have to come in and work a little bit harder than the other guys. I'm going to have to do extra things after practice to get extra reps and take everything else as a mental rep."

Gaither may have to take nothing but mental reps against the Falcons as Harris will likely play almost the entire second half. That should give Harris adequate time to get the feel for the game and help decide the outcome.

"I hope to finish it out, like a great closing pitcher," Harris said. "If we have to come from behind, I hope to do that."

O. Brown returns

Right tackle Orlando Brown returned to practice in body, but not totally in spirit.

Brown, who missed Monday's practice because of personal reasons, took a limited number of snaps yesterday.

His status for tomorrow's game is uncertain.

"We'll see," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He has to deal with a personal issue. Some serious things are going on that he has to attend to. I think he should be ready for Thursday night, but we'll have to respect what he's got going on at home."

Hunter ready

Receiver-turned-cornerback Javin Hunter will make his debut on defense against the Falcons, capping off a long road since a torn Achilles' tendon kept him out all last year and a four-game suspension for taking a banned substance kept him out at the end of the 2002 season.

The last time he wore a Ravens uniform in a meaningful contest, Hunter was finishing a rookie season in which he started three games.

He has looked comfortable so far at cornerback, but a true test should come against the Falcons' receivers. Hunter will not have the familiarity he has with the Ravens offensive playbook and route combinations.

"Last year was rough, sitting watching these guys play," Hunter said. "Now I'm just trying to do whatever I can to be out there on that field."

The meaning of preseason

During his post-practice news conference, Billick gave his longest answer to a question posed about whether preseason game are meaningless.

Not surprisingly, he does not think they are.

"You never step on a football field when it doesn't have meaning," Billick said. "What happens is you get hurt. If you step on a football field without a purpose, I don't care if it's practice, a walk-through or in a game, you'd better have a purpose, and that's all you can focus on."

D. Modell on move

Former team president David Modell, now a team consultant, has been enjoying his time away from the NFL, traveling throughout the world.

"I've been doing nothing except traveling," said Modell, who was replaced as president shortly after Steve Bisciotti replaced Modell's father, Art, as majority owner. "I decided to come out to training camp and see what's going on. I've just been enjoying, for the first time in a long time, being somewhat unaccountable, not having stuff on the calendar, not doing and churning, doing and churning.

"I guess at some time I'll grow bored and need to occupy myself and my time a little bit more constructively," he said. "But for the time being this has been refreshing. I miss the people the most, but I don't miss the stomaching grind, the headaches, the calls at midnight, and the other headaches that came along with the job."

Modell, who had been with the Ravens/Browns in a full-time capacity since 1984, says he likes the Ravens' chances in 2004.

"I think their chances are good. The team was competitive last year, and they want to build on that," he said. "Expectations are high, not just in the stands, but on the field. I like that they are talking about achieving high goals, and this team is capable of doing that with a little luck."

Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Ravens training camp

Site: McDaniel College

When: Through Aug. 24

Admission: Free

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