These Ravens could really use training camp

June 06, 2011|By Mike Preston

The last time training camp was really important was in 1992. That was the year before the NFL allowed its teams to have organized team activities.

Combined with passing camps, OTAs diminished the importance of training camps, which are now more for working out kinks, adding a few wrinkles and building camaraderie.

That's contrary to the philosophy in past decades, when training camps were used to get players in shape for the coming season.

But now, we're back to the old days. The Ravens need training camp.

Because the three-month-old lockout has prohibited players from taking part in offseason camps, each team has mounting issues. Getting in shape won't be one of them. These players are professionals. They know what is at stake, even defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

Besides Cody, these are the players and coaches who need the lockout to end soon and training camp to start on time:

•Cam Cameron: The Ravens' offensive coordinator has to reinvent himself in 2011. He needs to build a strong relationship not only with quarterback Joe Flacco, but with the rest of his coaching staff as well. A shortened season could put Cameron on an even hotter seat season.

•Flacco: If he is going to have more input this season (wink, wink, we've heard this one before), Flacco needs as much time as possible to work with the offense. He also has to get used to working more closely with Cameron.

•Sergio Kindle: The second-year outside linebacker has been cleared to play by almost every medical expert in Baltimore, but no one can predict what will happen until the contact starts. Kindle, who fractured his skull while falling down two flights of stairs last summer, needs time to learn the defense. The Ravens want him to become a good pass rusher opposite Terrell Suggs.

•A fullback: Any fullback. With Le'Ron McClain not expected to return, they don't have a legitimate one on the roster, and if they want to go back to a power running game or bulk up in short-yardage situations, they have to address this area. The sooner, the better.

•Jimmy Smith: The cornerback out of Colorado, the Ravens' top draft pick, is a key for the season. They need a big, physical, shutdown corner, and if he can play man-to-man as advertised, this should help the Ravens' pass rush. It would have been nice if Smith had attended the team's informal workouts at Towson University, but it's no big deal.

•Torrey Smith: The second-round pick, a wide receiver out of the Maryland, can fly and should be able to stretch defenses. Hopefully, he can get the appropriate work at training camp to make an immediate impact. Maybe he'll be more involved in the offense than the last speed receiver the Ravens had, Donte' Stallworth, whose playbook consisted of one play: the end around.

•Domonique Foxworth: The former starting cornerback went through major reconstructive knee surgery a year ago. He says he is close to 100 percent, but the more time he spends on the field, the better the Ravens will feel about his health. If he can't make it through training camp, it would give the Ravens time to sign one of the free-agent cornerbacks on the roster from a year ago (possibly Josh Wilson or Chris Carr).

•Cody: If he weren't a rookie last season, he might have eaten his way out of the league. The kid has great talent. If he can get through a full training camp, look out.

•Backup running back: Unless the language is changed in the collective bargaining agreement or Willis McGahee takes a pay cut, the Ravens will have to cut him and the $6 million salary he is due this season. Ideally, the Ravens would like Ray Rice's backup to get a lot of repetitions in training camp while keeping Rice fresh for the regular season.

•Chuck Pagano: The team's scheme won't change much, but the Ravens' new defensive coordinator would like to put in his own signature packages. Training camp would give him time to do so.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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