Ravens Roost

August 23, 2009 5:38 PM

Ravens training camp is a success

Thumbnail image for Ray.jpgLast season the team was coming off of an embarrassing 5-11 record and when camp started they learned that their starting quarterback had decided to retire. They were also being led by a rookie head coach and none of them knew what to expect. Those concerns seem like old history now that the team has finished its second training camp under John Harbaugh. No longer is Joe Flacco a wide eyed rookie needing to have offensive coordinator Cam Cameron stand behind him at the line of scrimmage and call out the plays. The Ravens have come a long way in a years time and for all intent and purposes they have grown mightily under the Harbaugh regime. 

No longer does the Ravens defense own their offensive counterparts. The offense torched the defense often during the 6 weeks in camp. Flacco has gone from needing to be fed the plays to making audibles and shifting his linemen and backs before the snap. His understanding of Cameron's offense has increased tenfold. Don't expect to see any sophomore slump from Bazooka Joe this season, and besides sophomore slumps are an occurrence in baseball more then football anyway.

Ray Rice came into camp beefed up from a year ago and promptly took over as the starting running back. But, Willis McGahee also came into camp in much better shape from a year ago, and the two have been battling  to see which one is going to start the season as the number one back. I see the two of them being used in a rotation to keep them fresh, and keep defenses on their heels.

It seems all of the Ravens draft picks have performed better then expected. Offensive tackle Michael Oher is looking like a beast on the right side of the line giving the Raven defenders all they can handle. While he still needs to refine his technique he should be an improvement over Willie Anderson and a fixture on the offensive line for many seasons to come.

Ladarius Webb has also been a bright spot showing that he can be used as a defensive back, a safety, or in the kick return game. I think before the season is over everyone will have forgotten about the loss of Jim Leonard to the Jets. Webb just had the right amount of enthusiasm and love of the game, traits that usually produce excellent players.

While everyone would have loved to see the team pick up a top notch receiver the offense has been using the ones they have in multiple three and four man sets. There have even been defensive players lining up at receiver. last season Cameron had to teach the players the basics of his offensive philosophy, this season he can build from where the team left off. I can't wait to see some of the trickery he has in store for opposing defenses.

Paul Kruger, who has been chastised by Rex Ryan for having the audacity to wear number 99, has shown the high motor that his predecessor Michael McCrary (my all time favorite Raven) had, and looks to be a player that is going to pay dividends this year. Kruger still has a way to go before he perfects his technique but he certainly has the heart, and the intelligence to play the game at a high level. Look for him to really show improvement from game to game this season.

At the moment the Ravens offense is clicking,  and the defense hasn't missed a beat. This is a team that should make the playoffs, providing no rash of injuries to key players. I'm planing on going to the Jets game Monday night, and I'll give my take of what I see. The only trouble is I have to work the next day and can't stay past the first half. Why, if they're going to make you pay full price for these games, can't they schedule them on weekends? I realize the league wants to maximize their exposer, but give the working folks a break. But, the starting offense and defense should play the majority of the first half so I'll key on that. The rest of you watching the entire game please feel free to share your comments. After all we're a Ravens nation, and we believe! 

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