Ravens conclude smooth offseason

Health of secondary is biggest concern

June 10, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Shayne Graham's 60-yard kick soared through the air, struck the right upright and dropped to the ground. There was an anxious moment of silence before the referees signaled the field goal was successful.

With the way the Ravens' spring has been going, did anyone expect the final moment of their offseason to turn out differently?

On a sun-splashed morning, quarterback Joe Flacco completed passes to his two newest wide receivers, Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth. The usually-strong defense ran all over the field to pick off throws. And both kickers, Graham and Billy Cundiff, hit 60-yard field goals.

The Ravens wrapped up an offseason of little drama and heightened expectations — albeit a week early after violating NFL practice rules — with the players leaping on the field and dancing to loud music in the locker room.

Amid the celebration, Flacco acknowledged the Ravens have the makings of a Super Bowl team.

"We believe we have the team to do it," Flacco said. "We've believed that for the last couple of years. We expect to be there and we expect to be in the hunt."

Considered by many to be the front-runners to win the AFC North, the Ravens only strengthened their position with perhaps the smoothest offseason of any team in the division.

In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are dealing with the repercussions and distractions from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's offseason ordeal. In Cincinnati, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is venting his frustration over the offseason absence of No. 1 wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco. In Cleveland, the Browns are once again trying to rebuild the long-suffering, dysfunctional franchise.

"I think we got as much done as we possibly could have," coach John Harbaugh said. "As a team, we worked really hard. I'm proud of the way they worked. I think we maxed out our offseason, and now it's time to get away a little bit."

The biggest concern for the Ravens is the health of their secondary.

Two of their top cornerbacks, Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb, are still recovering from knee surgeries. Webb could start training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list, but Washington expects to suit up for the first day.

Washington estimated Thursday that he's running at 80 percent.

"The knee is fine," said Washington, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Nov. 22. "I'm running, breaking, cutting. I'm fast again."

Unlike Washington and Webb, the progress of Ed Reed is more uncertain. The Pro Bowl safety hasn't reported to Ravens headquarters since having a hip procedure over a month ago.

Reed will likely miss the start of training camp at the very least.

"Ed is out there in Colorado and really working hard from everything I've heard," Harbaugh said. "Ed is at the stage of his career where he knows himself better than anybody."

Looking to add veteran depth to their banged-up secondary, the Ravens held tryouts for three defensive backs (cornerbacks Ken Lucas and Walt Harris in addition to safety Ken Hamlin) over the past two days.

"I would say that all three did very well," Harbaugh said. "All three looked like they could play in this league. Veteran corners, a veteran safety that have a lot left in the tank. What are the chances? I don't know."

The only drama that the Ravens have had to deal with has been flipping their offensive tackles ( Michael Oher to the left side and Jared Gaither to the right), Le'Ron McClain's campaign on Twitter to get more carries and the surprise absence of Terrell Suggs.

A three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, Suggs has taken some heat for not attending any voluntary practices this offseason after signing a six-year, $63 million contract last summer. He received a $23 million option bonus just three months ago.

But Harbaugh didn't criticize Suggs.

"Him not being through the [offseason practices]," Harbaugh said before pausing, "we'll just have to see how he comes back to training camp. But I would expect a very motivated Terrell Suggs in training camp."

Suggs attended the first day of the Ravens' offseason conditioning program in March and participated in the mandatory minicamp in early May. But he hasn't shown up since.

He is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-low 41/2 sacks and 59 tackles, his fewest since 2003, his rookie season.

"I can't vouch for anything he's doing or not doing," Harbaugh said. "I think Terrell's got a good heart. I think he's a hard worker. I think he's very motivated to having a great season."

The Ravens will break for 46 days before suiting up for their first training camp practice at McDaniel College.

"I think we worked hard and did a good job," Flacco said of the offseason. "We're going to come into training camp ready to go. Our goal is to hit the ground running."

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