Lawrence Showing Skills At Tailback

Ravens notebook

Only Knock On Reserve Is Tendency To 'Play Soft'

August 22, 2009|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,edward.lee@baltsun.com

A year ago, Matt Lawrence was unemployed, a waiver casualty after the Chicago Bears needed to add depth at offensive tackle. Now Lawrence is getting a surprising number of repetitions at tailback behind Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain at Ravens training camp, usually running with the second offense.

Lawrence, who spent time with the Seattle Seahawks before landing on the Ravens' practice squad in October, said he's trying not to make too much of the arrangement.

"I just expected to come in and compete for a position to play football," he said. "There's really nothing to take out of it except that I have to do what I'm told to do. If they say go in, I go in. If they say I'm out, I'm out. I don't think it's a sign of anything. It's a sign that I've got to do what I've been given an opportunity to do."

At 6 feet 1, Lawrence is the tallest running back on the roster, but he does a decent job of getting his pads down. Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said he is looking for more toughness from Lawrence.

"He's good at catching the ball out of the backfield, he does run good routes and he does have good vision. So, he does have a lot about himself to give to this game," Montgomery said. "But sometimes he has a tendency to play soft, and that softness could be his downfall. The key is, you would like to see him be physical and always on the attack all the time."

Lawrence understands that he is stuck at a position loaded with talent and depth, but he did lead the team with 36 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 38 yards in the Ravens' 23-0 shutout of the Washington Redskins in the teams' preseason opener. Still, Lawrence said he can't be concerned with making an impression with the coaches.

"Like I said before, I just take every snap and give it 100 percent and let the chips fall where they may," he said. "I'm hoping at the end of camp that there will maybe be a spot for me."

Skirmish over No. 99 ends

As far as rookie linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger is concerned, his skirmish with former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is over. After lashing back at Ryan, now the New York Jets' head coach, for his comments criticizing the Ravens' decision to give Michael McCrary's No. 99 jersey to Kruger, the second-round pick in April's draft said he is putting the episode in the past.

"Everybody loves him, and I've heard that he's a great coach," Kruger said. "I just want to go out and play hard. I'm really not concerned about that."

Clayton's hamstring on mend

If Mark Clayton had his druthers, he would be ready to play against the Jets on Monday. But the wide receiver's strained left hamstring is still an issue. Still, Clayton, who has run routes and caught passes during practice for the past few days, is encouraged that his recovery is ahead of schedule.

"I'm just thanking God that the healing process has been really smooth," said Clayton, who hasn't practiced since Aug. 2. "They said it could be into the season or whatnot, and I didn't think I'd be running routes and stuff at this moment. ... That's not full speed. I still feel pretty slow, but it's coming along. I'm just happy to be back."

End zone

Right guard Chris Chester (strained right calf) and tight end Todd Heap (undisclosed) returned to practice after sitting out Thursday's session. Linebackers Terrell Suggs (strained left heel) and Dannell Ellerbe (right knee) and offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers (right leg) did not practice. ... Wide receiver Derrick Mason wore his No. 85 jersey, not the No. 9 he had worn in honor of late quarterback Steve McNair. ... Two weeks after rapper Snoop Dogg visited the Ravens' training camp, Rohan Marley, son of the late reggae legend Bob Marley, appeared, exchanging hugs and handshakes with fellow former University of Miami players Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and McGahee.

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