Ravens hope later start means all in on time

Five days before camp begins, four draft picks are still unsigned

July 26, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The Ravens face the usual crunch of having to sign four draft picks before players report to training camp Sunday.

But this year, time is on the Ravens' side.

With only the Philadelphia Eagles starting camp later than the Ravens, there is more immediacy for the rest of the league to sign their picks. That means the market value of the Ravens' picks will be established this week through "slotting" (basing deals on what the player in front of your pick and the player behind him received), which should give them a solid chance of locking up all their rookies over the next five days.

The last time all the Ravens' players arrived in camp on time was 2001.

"Normally when training camp opens, the urgency to get deals done heats up," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "There should be some deals that will start to fall in the first and second rounds this week, which should help us."

The Ravens made some headway yesterday by signing fullback Justin Green (fifth round) and quarterback Derek Anderson (sixth) to three-year contracts.

That leaves receiver Mark Clayton (first round), linebacker Dan Cody (second), offensive tackle Adam Terry (second) and center Jason Brown (fourth) as the only unsigned picks.

The pace of signing draft picks has been slow in the NFL this year, especially in the first round, where only three of the 32 players have agreed to terms. Newsome said the team has negotiated with all of its rookies and indicated that talks with Clayton have progressed "beyond the initial phase."

The parameters of Clayton's deal could be set by the end of the week because the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders report to camp Friday. With Clayton being the 22nd overall pick, his agreement should be less than that of Jacksonville's Matt Jones (21st pick) and more than that of Oakland's Fabian Washington (23rd).

"It's a very good chance that Nos. 21 and 23 are going to be done if we're indeed not done by then," coach Brian Billick said.

The Ravens are attempting to end a three-year run of having at least one holdout. Addressing why a player is absent has become an unwelcome annoyance for the team.

"No holdouts would be a plus," Billick said. "It's unfortunate that it gets pressed to the 11th hour. The sad part is that the holding out of a day or two - and we've seen it all - doesn't yield anything."

Billick said the Ravens are not trimming any part of camp by reporting later than most teams. He said the team will have the typical 15 full-team practices before the first preseason game at Atlanta on Aug. 13.

But by starting later, Billick said it puts a higher premium on arriving on time.

"Because that preparation time is orchestrated with very strict parameters, I can't sacrifice the team to alter the schedule to an individual who misses the first two or three days," Billick said. "To miss those days can really put you behind the eight ball."

NOTE: Backup tight end Darnell Dinkins will host a free clinic today at Randallstown High School from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Holding pattern

The Ravens are trying to end their three-year run of holdouts. A look at the past absentees in training camp:

Chris McAlister, 2004

Dispute over franchise tag

Missed entire camp

Terrell Suggs, 2003

First-round pick (10th overall)

Missed two days

Kyle Boller, 2003

First-round pick (19th overall)

Missed four days

Ed Reed, 2002

First-round pick (24th overall)

Missed nine days

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