For four Ravens rookies, Tuesday’s informal workout at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium wasn’t just the start of their NFL careers. It was a chance to learn from the some of the best.
Wide receivers Torrey Smith (Maryland) and Tandon Doss (Indiana), quarterback Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) and running back Anthony Allen (Georgia Tech) participated in workouts organized by All-Pro wide receiver Derrick Mason — and each rookie had a veteran player take him under his wing.
For Allen, it was Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who has gone over the playbook with Allen and scheduled study sessions.
“I want to get in here and start studying,” Allen said. “It’s kind of like going into a test and studying the night before.”
In front of a crowd of local media, Rice playfully promoted his new teammate by shouting to the reporters to stop an interview with linebacker Jameel McClain and give Allen some of the spotlight.
Smith, Doss and Taylor arrived to Towson’s campus piling out of Joe Flacco’s Ford 150. The quarterback was quick to praise the new recruits.
“From Tandon I saw a guy that can stay on the move and catch the ball well while staying on the move,” Flacco said of Doss, who fell in the draft partially due to a groin injury that scared scouts, but impressed the Flacco with his ability to move laterally.
“He doesn’t need too much time to slow down,” Flacco said. “He can pluck balls out of the air. “
Smith and Doss said they hope to learn a lot from a receiving core featuring two of the better possession receivers in the league in Mason and Anqaun Boldin.
Smith, who had a chance to show off some of his speed, hopes to add a deep threat to an offense.
“Torrey obviously has a lot of speed and also catches the ball well and can stretch the field vertically,” Flacco said. “I’m excited about them.”
Smith, who produced almost a quarter of the Terrapins offensive yards in 2010, also was excited about working with Flacco, with whom he seemed to gel quickly.
“It was weird knowing every time I looked back, there was the ball,” Smith said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Taylor, who is currently the only other Ravens quarterback on the roster besides Flacco, has also looked north of Baltimore for guidance.
“I’ve been working out at home with Michael Vick,” Taylor said, referring to the Eagles’ star who also played for Virginia Tech. “He’s not too upset I took some of his records.”
While the comparison between Taylor and Vick can be exciting, the combination of Taylor and Flacco could add some spice to the Ravens offense.
With the contract dispute between the NFL and the players' union hanging over their heads, the rookies are also faced with some problems the veterans stars aren’t encountering. For one, they haven’t been paid yet.
“I still have about $17 in my bank account, so not yet.” Allen said. “But it feels real good to be out here with my new teammates.”