TENNIS-BALL DRILL HELPING TO CREATE TURNOVERS
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ravens receiver/return specialist Michael Campanaro has been injured often during his career.
However, it should be said he knows how to heal.
Campanaro, a River Hill graduate whose brother lives approximately one mile from Ellicott City, Md.'s flood-damaged Main Street, helped announce the Ravens' charitable initiative to help disaster victims.
The Ravens will donate $10,000 to the United Way, who have set up an EC Strong fund. Anyone interested in donating can also text 51555 to "EC Strong" and contribute as well.
"It was tough [watching the flood footage]," Campanaro said. "One of the first things I did was to check on my brother to see if he was OK.
"It was awesome, seeing some of the ways people were helping each other out."
T-shirts emblazoned with "I (heart) EC" were worn by Ravens staff members at practice and can be purchased at 98online.com, with proceeds going toward the victims of the July 30 flood. The heart is filled in with the Maryland state flag design.
Here are Day 6 practice highlights:
- After three straight padded practices, the Ravens donned shorts and soft shells for the 8:45 a.m. session.
- The active-roster injury list remained unchanged. Its current occupants: tight end Dennis Pitta (finger), who was hurt during the Aug. 1 stadium practice, cornerback Will Davis (unknown), wideout Chris Moore (unknown "tweak"), running back Kenneth Dixon (knee), rookie cornerback Maurice Canady (unknown), tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (rib). Punter Michael Palardy was a new absentee.
- In the wake of running back Trent Richardson's release, the remainder of the physically unable to perform list is the same: receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles), linebackers Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot).
- The Ravens signed running back Stephen Houston to take Richardson's place on the roster. "We needed a running back," head coach John Harbaugh said. "We needed bodies out there." Harbaugh did say Richardson could return, saying he was "on our radar." The 6-foot, 225-pound Houston has played for New England and Pittsburgh and is the ninth-leading rusher at Indiana University.
- For some observers, one of the camp highlights so far has been the tennis-ball drill secondary coach Leslie Frazier is using with his unit to try to work on coordination skills, as well as grasping interceptions and fumbled balls. "Catching a tennis ball is a lot harder than catching a football," cornerback Jimmy Smith said.
- The drill must have paid off, with numerous tipped passes and interceptions dotting the practice session. Rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa jumped up and knocked away a Joe Flacco pass in a style reminiscent of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Albert McClellan, Zachary Orr and Lardarius Webb also picked off passes. McClellan's pickoff came after an alert tip from cornerback Sheldon Price.
- Receiver Mike Wallace continues to come on strong, beating Shareece Wright to the corner of the end zone, then throwing the ball against a nearby fence in celebration. Later, he gathered a perfectly thrown Flacco pass along the sideline between Wright and safety Eric Weddle.
- Early in practice, Flacco was throwing downfield passes to his receivers who were traveling at least 70 yards in the air. In a departure from recent seasons, Flacco is wearing a red no-contact jersey instead of the black top with the purple numeral on it, the better to be seen and not hit by defenders. The quarterbacks liked the black-top look after they saw San Francisco's signal-callers wear it when they came to Baltimore for joint practices in 2014.
- Flacco found tight end Benjamin Watson on a quick-hit pass over the middle that had to be thrown hard and quickly with Weddle closing in.
- Harbaugh said he would like to see second-year defensive tackle Carl Davis play at the level of starters Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan. With the latter out with a rib injury, Davis has gotten more reps and showed a little speed on the pass rush, forcing rookie tackle Ronnie Stanley to hold him on one play.
- Even after stumbling out of his stance, wideout Chris Matthews managed to beat Wright to the corner of the end zone to catch a pass.
- Correa and fellow linebacker Arthur Brown pursued well into space to hold Kyle Juszczyk to a short gain on a swing pass.
- Even though the secondary has tried to tighten up its coverages to prevent the kind of big plays that has doomed it the past two years, safety Lardarius Webb somehow let receiver Jeremy Butler get behind him for a long catch. Webb recovered and forced him out of bounds near the 1.
- Running back Terrance West is fully engaged in camp, picking up a fumbled handoff and darting around left end.
- The Ravens were thought to be focusing their kick- and punt-return duties on about 4-5 players this year instead of the crowd at those positions in 2015. However, Wallace and Tavon Young, who has been impressive, were seen taking repetitions at kick returner.
- The Ravens' alumni ties remain strong; former linebacker/defensive end Adalius Thomas, a 2000 sixth-round pick who spent seven seasons with the team, could be seen helping the special teams units.
- After an off-day, the Aug. 3 practice was the first of a four-day stretch that will culminate with the second of two M&T Bank Stadium practices, set for 6 p.m. Aug. 6., with gates to open at 4:30 p.m. and the third annual post-practice fireworks show scheduled afterward.
- Community groups represented at practice included many uniformed military personnel, a children's group from the Sharp-Leadenhall neighborhood near M&T Bank Stadium, youth football teams from Andover, North Harford, Lutherville-Timonium and Liberty, and the Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, headed by Loyola High grad Van Brooks, who broke his neck playing football and became paralyzed. He was confined to a wheelchair before walking with the aid of a walker several years later.