Reporting Mark Viviano
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WJZ)– The Ravens are feeling the heat. The first full-squad practice of training camp was held on Thursday.
Sports Director Mark Viviano has more from the practice and what the team’s leaders are saying.
Gone are familiar faces like Jarret Johnson, Tom Zbikowski and Ben Grubbs. But there are plenty of new faces, including more than 20 rookies and a number of newly-signed free agents, all mixing in with Ravens regulars like Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and Ed Reed.
It was the first official full-squad training camp workout to kick off the Ravens new championship quest. Making the playoffs has become the standard under coach John Harbaugh. He had four seasons on the job and four post-season appearances, twice reaching the AFC title game. But, still no Super Bowl.
Having fallen short of that goal during a close call with New England six months ago adds extra motivation for the Ravens as they regroup for another run.
“The mood at training camp will only be to overcome that last game,” Rice said. “Let’s get that out of the way. And that will be the movement going forward.”
“Once it’s over, it’s over,” Lewis said. “There’s nothing you can do to go back and change that. I think this year we have a totally different team, the reason being, we added some pieces, we lost some pieces. So that simply means that we’re a totally different team right now.”
Rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw wasn’t around for the New England loss, but he will be counted on right away because Terrell Suggs is out with an injury. The Ravens’ top draft pick has gained quick notice from his teammates.
“I’m seeing the sides of him,” Rice said. “I don’t know what he weighs on paper but he looked like a brick wall to me. I had to talk to him during training camp and said, ‘Courtney, look, you’re going to hit me a few times, but I need to play on Monday night.’”
A couple of the biggest names were not present for this first practice– defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie. Ngata strained his hamstring on Thursday and was unable to practice. Harbaugh said a personal matter kept McKinnie from being at the camp but he doesn’t know the reason. The coach added that he would have to speak to McKinnie’s agent. That could have an impact on the Ravens’ offensive line.
Flacco was in place and running the Ravens offense for a fifth straight training camp.
The Ravens will hold three public practices away from Owings Mills. The first one is at M&T Bank Stadium on August 4.