Batimore Ravens Training Camp – End of Week 1 Review

Juszcyzk Not There Yet

No matter what anyone thinks across the NFL, Ozzie Newsome has a strong knowledge on how to break up a team after a Super Bowl win and bring in new talent to poise the Baltimore Ravens for future playoff runs and subsequent championships.  Ravens’ fans should be encouraged by the young talent ownership and recruitment has lined up to get them closer to that goal, albeit probably not Metlife Stadium next February.

So what did the first week of training camp look like for the defending Super Bowl champions?

Without leader and defensive linebacker Ray Lewis, there is a lot of new talent that have some hard shoes to follow.  Rookie hometown favorite, Brandon Copeland, has changed positions from his former University of Pennsylvania role to inside linebacker.  Making this change meant also a need to change stealth, increase conditioning, reduce weight, but maintain speed and agility.  It was apparent this week that Copeland put in some offseason work with none other than Lewis’ and Ed Reed‘s personal trainer, Monte Sanders, to place him as a right fit that can potentially surpass Arthur Brown even if it means starting as a solid special teams player.

Continuing the University of Miami alumni legacy for the Ravens team is Bryant McKinnie, who definitely was in great cardiovascular conditioning but did not meet the weight requirements to practice on Thursday or finish practice on Friday.  McKinnie is certain to be padded up and ready this week.  Regardless to the weight loss need, he definitely is in better shape than prior years when he was told he was not in condition to attend the voluntary training camps but he might want to talk to rookie Copeland about getting Sanders’ contact information to beat this consistent weight problem.

Matt Birk retired from the Ravens offensive line and looked to have passed the torch of NFL aspirations to fellow Harvard alumni fourth-round draft pick rookie fullback, Kyle Juszczyk.  However Juszczyk looked very much like an unseasoned rookie during the first week, allowing Terrell Suggs to fly past him in a goal line drill jokingly asking for Vonta Leach, who is still in contract talks with the Ravens to return to the team.  After the 3rd full  day of training camp, it is obvious that Juszczyk needs a lot of time and serious work to defend top-notch NFL defensive players like Suggs.  If the Ravens re-sign Leach, Juszczyk could be the third tight end spot on the roster.

Speaking of Suggs, he came back with a vengeance – a pure chip on his shoulder – to be better than ever.  He has increased conditioning and speed to the likes of Coach John Harbaugh too.  He even tackled second-year running back Bernard Pierce for a three-yard loss in less than a second after the ball was snapped.

Pierce, like Suggs, bulked up in muscle and increase his speed to be a sure force to be reckoned with as the backup to Ray Rice.  Pierce’s work in the offseason will pay off as he will continue to run right through the tackles to gain short yardage and use his quickness to beat the defenders for long carries.

Of course the bad news is Dennis Pitta‘s season-ending dislocated hip on Saturday that has now caused an entrance of former local Morgan State University standout, Visanthe Shiancoe, to try to build a running game with the loss of Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers.

So far things are looking to come together slowly but surely with some dedicated veterans and smart owners that are bound to Super Bowl victories for the city of Baltimore.