Figurs wants better reception

Notebook

Return specialist working hard to expand his role as wide receiver

July 29, 2008|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Yamon Figurs wants more work.

The Ravens' top return specialist, Figurs is intent on expanding his role as a wide receiver.

So far at training camp at McDaniel College, Figurs has shown he has improved his skills as a receiver. He is running routes with more precision, and he has dropped fewer passes than a year ago.

"I'm just getting into a rhythm," Figurs said. "They brought me here to play receiver, and in the offseason when we left, they told me I would be a receiver."

Figurs caught just one pass for 36 yards last season but was rarely used in the passing attack. He got most of his work in the return game, where he became the first Raven to score touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns in the same season and ranked 15th in the NFL in average on kickoff returns (24.7 yards).

Perhaps because Figurs battled knee and shoulder injuries last season, the team drafted three rookies, running back Ray Rice and safeties Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura, who can return kickoffs and punts.

Figurs said he is not concerned about the additional competition: "It's always good to have someone pushing you to get better because if you get relaxed, it's not a good thing. The key is to keep getting better every day."

To that end, Figurs said he is grateful for the opportunity to learn from coach John Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. Harbaugh was the special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles for nine seasons, and Rosburg helped mold Joshua Cribbs into a Pro Bowl returner during his time with the Cleveland Browns from 2001 to 2006.

"We've got two great special teams minds. ... " Figurs said. "We're turning up all angles, man. It's great."

Injury update

There's a good chance the Ravens will practice today without their top two defensive tackles.

Kelly Gregg, who practiced yesterday morning, limped through the lobby of the team's hotel with his left leg heavily wrapped. Haloti Ngata, who did not practice yesterday, wore a brace on his knee but did not appear to be as limited as Gregg.

Willis McGahee returned to practice yesterday after sitting out Sunday. The running back's left knee was taped, but it did not appear to slow him.

Learning experience

This is not defensive tackle Salomon Solano's first foray in the NFL. As a member of the NFL's International Practice Squad program, Solano spent last season with the Detroit Lions. But the native of Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, said he has never played on a defense as methodical and successful as the Ravens' unit.

"This is a growing experience for me to be around this defense that I think is the best defense in the league," Solano said. "It's a great opportunity for me to be here."

edward.lee@baltsun.com.

Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

Q&A

Yamon Figurs ran a blistering 4.30 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine before being selected by the Ravens in the third round of last year's draft. Figurs' passion for speed reached new limits during the offseason.

Q: What did you do for fun during the offseason?

A: We got some jet skis and rode them all summer long [in Jupiter, Fla.]. It was the first time I owned my own jet skis, and I got some super-fast ones that go about 80 mph.

Q: Is there a speed limit on the water?

A: Only when you're going out and there are manatees and stuff in the water. But I don't want to go any faster than [80 mph]. That water stings when it hits you, and if you go too fast, you're not jet skiing on the water. You're hydro-planing.

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