Catching a glimpse of the Ravens' new offense

For a few series anyway, Ravens will offer peek at new passing offense

August 11, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Tonight's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers represents a sneak preview of the Ravens' new passing attack.

Hometown fans and a national television audience want to see whether Anquan Boldin, Donte' Stallworth and two rookie tight ends will instantly provide some big plays and touchdowns to the Ravens' offense.

Boldin, though, has a different mindset for his one-quarter cameo at M&T Bank Stadium.

"As a veteran, you just want to get it over with," said Boldin, who was acquired in a March trade from the Arizona Cardinals. "It's preseason. We're probably going to be in there about two series, three series at the most. You just want to get out there, kind of get used to the football speed of things and just make it out safely."

The newcomers to the offense have brought several cheers at this year's training camp.

On Monday, Stallworth tapped a pass over cornerback Fabian Washington's helmet with one hand and caught it with the other before racing to the end zone.

Later, Boldin made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch deep down the middle of the field for another touchdown.

So, is there any excitement from Boldin going into his Ravens debut?

"No, I'll leave that for when we get to New York," said Boldin, alluding to the regular-season opener Sept. 13 at the New York Jets. "Like I said, we just want to see where we're at as an offense with the first unit -- get out, move around, hit another team. But like I said, we just want to get out there, execute and make it out safely."

Boldin will give quarterback Joe Flacco a big target over the middle. Stallworth, who is dealing with an injury to a finger, will stretch the field with his speed. Then there are the two rookie tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, who could develop into key role players.

All this should add punch to a passing attack that ranked No. 18 in the NFL last season.

"It's going to be fun," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "We're going to treat it that way -- go out there, have fun and get up for the game. We want to be successful on offense and go down and put a touchdown on the board."

Boldin, who signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Ravens, was the biggest investment in the passing game this offseason.

Asked what he has seen from Boldin, coach John Harbaugh mentioned first downs.

"He's a hard worker; he's a positive guy," Harbaugh said. "He's really pushing the envelope with our guys as far as teaching them the game along with our coaches. I think that's been a big help."

The Ravens have had 13 straight days of full-team practices in training camp. Before that, Flacco and Boldin worked a few times during the players' vacation time.

The process of building chemistry and confidence is well on its way.

"The line of communication is there, so I think we're good," Boldin said. "Like I said, every day we're going to come out here and continue to try to get better. Hopefully, the sky's the limit for us."

It'll be interesting to see how the new receivers are incorporated into a group that returns wide receivers Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams along with tight end Todd Heap.

"How much we improve as an offense will be determined by the growth of the players who are returning," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said.

The Ravens' defense will have some new starters, but that's primarily because of injuries.

Tom Zbikowski will fill in for Ed Reed (hip) at safety. Travis Fisher and Cary Williams could replace Fabian Washington (knee) and Chris Carr (hamstring) at cornerback.

Another new starter is inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who is considered the biggest surprise of camp. He is beating out Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden, two players who started games at this spot last season.

But McClain isn't shocked that he's the one lining up beside Ray Lewis.

"I knew I belonged [in the NFL] the day I came out of my mother's womb," McClain said. "I was born to play this game. I'm born to go out there and hit somebody and play with a high intensity and a lot of rah-rah."

Note: Domonique Foxworth had surgery Tuesday to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the cornerback announced on his Twitter account. The procedure was performed by Dr.James Andrews.

Foxworth, who is out for the season, is dealing with significant pain as he recovers from the operation.

"My knee is killing me," Foxworth said on Twitter. "And almost every time I eat a [little bite] and take pain meds, I throw up."

By having the surgery now, Foxworth should be ready for next year's training camp and perhaps offseason workouts in the spring.

He injured the knee during a noncontact, walk-through practice July29, one day before the Ravens' first full-team practice of training camp.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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