Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Saturday, August 25, 2007


1. As the Baltimore Ravens take on the Washington Redskins tonight at FedEx Field, expect to see the starters for the majority of the first half in their last extended workload until the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.Traditionally, the third preseason game tends to be the most important one for the first-team. All week, the team has talked about eliminating the miscues that led to a 13-12 loss to the New York Giants, including 11 penalties, a turnover and some overly aggressive behavior between snaps. Have the Ravens learned their lesson or is it still not out of their system?

2. New franchise running back Willis McGahee has only demonstrated flashes of promise since arriving at training camp, mostly on one 16-yard run against the Philadelphia Eagles. Although it was limited action and obviously hard to get into a rhythm, gaining just six yards on three carries against the Giants was a definite step backward. The run blocking needs to be better, and McGahee has to take decisive action like backup Mike Anderson does when there isn't much room to operate.

3. Quarterback Steve McNair forced an interception into heavy coverage of wideout Demetrius Williams last week, and he'll be without injured starter Mark Clayton (sprained ankle). That gives him an opportunity to build some timing with Williams and throw more to veteran Derrick Mason, who has one catch for 21 yards in two games.

4. This is an important night for second-year cornerback David Pittman as he'll audition with the starters since Samari Rolle is out with an ankle sprain. Team officials are extremely curious to see how this disappointing third-round draft pick from last year handles the pressure. Pittman, who drew complaints last season about his work ethic and study habits, has improved his attitude and drawn praise for his athleticism and coverage skills.

5. A few positional battles worth watching: Chris Chester steps back in at right guard as he tries to hold off rookie Ben Grubbs, Troy Smith vs. Drew Olson for the third-string quarterback job and B.J. Sams vs. rookie Yamon Figurs in the return game. Plus, will undersized running back Cory Ross, the team's preseason rushing leader, continue to impress as he tries to convince the coaching staff to keep five running backs?

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


OWINGS MILLS -- Cornerback David Pittman lined up with the first-string defense in preparation for Saturday night's start against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in place of injured starter Samari Rolle. If it were a regular-season game, nickel back Corey Ivy would be starting. This is essentially an audition for Pittman, a disappointment last year after being drafted in the third round.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (swollen knee) didn't practice and is questionable for the Redskins game. Also not practicing: Rolle (sprained right ankle), wide receiver Mark Clayton (sprained right ankle), tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained left ankle), running back P.J. Daniels (hamstring) and offensive tackle Steve Edwards (knee). Plus, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) and linebackers Dan Cody (knee surgery) and Mike Smith (shoulder surgery) remain on the physically unable to perform list.Defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison returned to practice after missing Tuesday for undisclosed reasons.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


OWINGS MILLS -- With the Baltimore Ravens returning to practice Tuesday morning following a 13-12 loss to the New York Giants, cornerback Samari Rolle (sprained ankle) and wide receiver Mark Clayton (sprained ankle) weren't on the indoor training facility field with their teammates. And they may be absent from practice for a while with Ravens coach Brian Billick declaring afterward that both starters are likely to be out until the season opener Sept. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rolle had his ankle heavily taped, and Clayton is getting around in a walking boot. Both players guaranteed they would be back by the opener.Clayton's injury appears to be more serious at this point. He said he got his leg rolled up from behind while blocking downfield.Meanwhile, tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained ankle), running back P.J. Daniels (hamstring), offensive tackle Steve Edwards (knee), offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, linebackers Mike Smith (shoulder surgery) and Dan Cody (knee surgery) didn't practice.

Defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison wasn't at the beginning part of practice.Linebacker Antwan Barnes (high ankle sprain) returned to practice and said he will be a game-time decision Saturday against the Washington Redskins. Right guard Chris Chester (sprained foot) practiced without incident and said he'll start against the Redskins. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who bruised his knee Sunday, practiced with his knee and calf wrapped up. Ngata indicated that it wasn't a serious injury, just sore.Rookie free agent wide receiver Matt Willis appeared to injure his right leg and was helped off the field, but returned to drills just a few minutes later.

Defensive lineman Dwan Edwards is down to 290 pounds, 25 to 30 pounds less than last season.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.