McNair's head is in the game, not court

Ravens QB focused on 2007 instead of on his recent arrest

May 18, 2007|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

Eight days after being arrested on a charge related to driving under the influence, Ravens quarterback Steve McNair was ready to get back to business at yesterday's minicamp.

He reported in good shape, a concern during his days with the Tennessee Titans. He talked football with teammates on the field and joked with them off it. And he threw a couple of touchdown passes, as well as making a few tosses to new running back Willis McGahee.

It was apparent that the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback was focused on practice and not his recent arrest in Nashville, Tenn., where he was charged on a misdemeanor commonly referred to as DUI by consent that prohibits a vehicle owner from letting it be driven by someone who is inebriated.

"What happened in Tennessee is left in Tennessee," McNair said in his first news conference since the arrest. "My lawyer is going to deal with that. Right now, my main focus is coming out here, getting chemistry and getting the things I need to get done in preparation for training camp.

"We're going to let the legal process handle it. It's unfortunate, but things happen. I just got to go through it. But at the same time, it's not going to distract me from helping this team get to where we need to be."

McNair is scheduled to go to court May 30. It is unknown whether McNair will be punished by the NFL because this is his second DUI arrest. The first was in 2003, when charges were dropped because the judge ruled police did not have sufficient reason to pull him over.

McNair's teammates said they didn't notice him being preoccupied at practice.

"He's one of those guys that you don't have to ask too much from," tight end Todd Heap said. "You know he's going to be on task doing what he's supposed to be doing. He's a guy that I don't worry about. When it comes to time for minicamps and when it comes for the season, he's going to be ready and a guy who can lead us."

McNair has had to deal with offseason distractions before.

He was essentially in limbo last May because the Tennessee Titans wouldn't allow him in their practice facility and the Ravens couldn't strike a deal for a trade. As a result, he missed all but one minicamp with the Ravens last season.

"To have that kind of interaction now puts us light-years ahead for training camp," coach Brian Billick said. "We were guessing a little bit before [in what suited McNair]. But now, you have a much better idea as we go through our conversations about what fits Steve."

This offseason, McNair will be able to participate in five weeks of minicamps (a total of 15 practices) before reporting to training camp at the end of July.

"It can give me a better understanding of what Brian wants out of this offense and what I can do in this offense," McNair said. "We couldn't put enough things in last year because of the limited time we had coming in. But this year, I think I can truly go out there and do it with my eyes closed. That's going to enhance us to be consistent throughout the whole year and not have this stalemate in the middle of the season or end of the season."

That slump at the end of the season still motivates McNair. He said he is still "bitter" from last season's 15-6 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

McNair was 18-for-29 passing for 173 yards and was intercepted twice.

"I got back and looked at the film and I did not do enough to make the plays as a quarterback and as a leader of this team to beat the Indianapolis Colts," McNair said. "That's a learning experience and we all go through it. We don't make mistakes on purpose, but you have to learn from it."

Notes -- Nine of the Ravens' 22 projected starters missed yesterday's voluntary camp. The absent players were linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, safety Ed Reed, defensive end Trevor Pryce, nose tackle Kelly Gregg, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and center Mike Flynn. "I am comfortable with the guys who we have here," Billick said. "Those who aren't, I am very comfortable knowing what they'll be able to do once they get here." ... Five players who ended last season on injured reserve - return specialist B.J. Sams (ankle), fullback Justin Green (knee), defensive tackle Justin Bannan (toe), running back Musa Smith (neck) and linebacker Dan Cody (knee) - all practiced. ... The Ravens signed two undrafted rookies, former Grand Valley State quarterback Cullen Finnerty and former Tulsa safety Bobby Blackshire.jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

For photos of the team's minicamp practices, go to baltimoresun.com/ravens.

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