Roch around the clock

ROCH AROUND THE CLOCK

The Kickoff

June 16, 2006|By ROCH KUBATKO

I just returned from the Ravens' voluntary practice, the last gathering before players report to training camp on July 30.

Not a single fight broke out. Must have been those eight gassers that coach Brian Billick made his players run after yesterday's scuffles.

Jamal Lewis was a no-show. He wasn't taking any chances.

There was more energy yesterday - the positive kind. I'm told Wednesday was a bit "sleepy," except when guys were trying to take each other's heads off.

"We had a good 15 practices, a good couple weeks. The groundwork has been laid," Billick said.

"They've got to take hold the next five weeks. This is just a starting point for them. They've got a lot to do the next five weeks. That curve still has to be going up, both physically and mentally. It's a little tougher when you're away from one another to maintain that integrity, but this team knows what's in front of it."

Receiver Mark Clayton is still walking with a slight limp because of a hamstring injury. And the other starting receiver, Derrick Mason, limped off the field during a two-minute drill that concluded the workout.

Kyle Boller twice tried to hit Mason in the right corner. Mason made the catch both times, though there were disputes over whether he got both feet inbounds.

"This ain't college," one defensive player yelled. "Two feet."

Quarterback Steve McNair looks better each day, which makes sense as he gets more comfortable in his new surroundings. He's so fluid in everything he does, and one observer pointed out how the former Titan looks light on his feet for a guy who has taken such a beating over the years.

McNair threaded a pass to Romby Bryant in a crowd of defenders. I'm still not sure how the ball got there. The man can still bring it.

"Everybody realizes he's a winner, a big-time winner," linebacker Dan Cody said.

Boller, meanwhile, has been pretty relaxed. Maybe it's not so bad collecting $1.6 million and not having all kinds of pressure heaped upon you.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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