Mixed Results For Ravens In Europe

Posted on June 26, 2007

By Joe Platania, PressBox Staff

When NFL Europa's final gun sounded in last weekend's World Bowl XV, several allocated Ravens and one former Baltimore player walked off the field on the losing end as members of the runner-up Frankfurt Galaxy.

The Galaxy was playing in its record eighth World Bowl in front of their home fans, but the team now has a 4-4 split after its 37-28 loss to the Hamburg Sea Devils.

As one might imagine, the Galaxy's Baltimore identity came on defense.


(Photo: Sabina Moran/PressBox)

Former Ravens linebacker Cornell Brown was the Galaxy's linebacker coach and had practice-squadder Jim Cottrell and former Raven Zac Woodfin in his unit.

Also on the Galaxy defense were free-agent pickup Kenny King (Arizona), who played in the season's first five games on the defensive line, and former backup lineman Remi Ayodele and defensive back Bill Alford.

Perhaps the most high-profile Baltimore allocation in Europe was Amsterdam Admirals quarterback Drew Olson.

Olson was sent to Europe to get playing time as well as to work on his mobility and his propensity to throw non-spirals. The results were highly mixed.

Playing for the only one of the six NFLE teams not located in Germany, Olson did complete 55 percent of his passes and his 13 touchdown passes were second in the league. He also ran 20 times for 37 yards, including one touchdown.

However, Olson also threw 11 interceptions and was injured on two separate occasions during the season, suffering knee and hamstring ailments. His team finished at 4-6, three games behind the league-leading Galaxy and Sea Devils.

The last-place Berlin Thunder also had a strong Ravens presence, with former offensive line reserve Sam Gutekunst and practice-squad tight end Rob Abiamiri (Mount St. Joseph) as part of the roster.

Abiamiri played in the season's final six games and hauled in five catches for 62 yards, including a 30-yard reception.

***

Most national prognosticators feel the Ravens are good enough to win a second straight AFC North Division title, but not to win Super Bowl XLII.

With the exception of Sports Illustrated, most of the major preseason magazines' 2007 predictions are in, with Lindy's being the only one to have the Ravens advancing to the Super Bowl. For the record, Lindy's says the Ravens will beat the Saints in the big game.

Here are the other Super Bowl forecasts, with their Ravens pick in parentheses:

Pro Football Weekly -- New England over New Orleans (11-5, first place).
Athlon -- New England over Dallas (division champs).
Street and Smith's -- New England over New Orleans (division champs).
The Sporting News -- New England over Dallas (9-7, wild-card).

***

Last year in this space, we told you that fully half the league (16 teams) would be conducting training camp at either their home stadiums or practice facilities instead of opting for a more fan-friendly out-of-town college campus site.

This year, that number has decreased slightly to 14, but that is still a radical change from a decade ago when no team would have ever dreamed of doing such a thing.

The Ravens' contract with McDaniel College -- also the site of most of the old Colts camps -- runs out at the end of the decade, but the team likes the idea of a fan-accessible site.

However, with camp-long totals easily surpassing six figures every year, space is something Ravens officials will have to think about as the years pass. After all, the on-campus intra-squad scrimmage is a thing of the past for two reasons: the overcrowding and traffic around Bair Stadium and the team's desire to play another team in an NFL-type environment.

This year, the Ravens entertain the Redskins in the yearly scrimmage at M&T Bank Stadium on August 4 at noon.

***

Another training-camp trend is the proliferation of shorter sessions. Gone are the days of six-week camps with two-a-day practices each day. 

This year, Dallas and Jacksonville are holding training camps that not only last roughly two weeks, but break right around the time of the first preseason game.

The Ravens -- and most teams, for the matter -- usually stay in their camp environs until at least two preseason games have been played.

Issue 2.26: June 28, 2007

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