THE SPORTS SCENE:

Football, Fun and Family

bBy Darrell Carter
Over 100,000 people are expected to visit the Ravens Training Camp this month. Not only can you watch players, but you (and your kids) can play a little football yourself.
Have you ever been to the Baltimore Ravens training camp? Well, if you haven't, you should. Camp Billick has taken on a new look this season, mainly due to salary cap restrictions. Long gone are quarterbacks Elvis Grbec and Randall Cunningham. Gone are tight end Shannon Sharpe, return specialist Jermaine Lewis, and linebacker Jamie Sharper. Also, gone are starting defensive backs Rod Woodsen, Cory Harris, and Duane Starks, leaving Chris McAllister as the only returning starter. Reserves Gary Baxter, Anthony Mitchell and 2002 first-round pick Edward Reed will compete for starting rights.

Running back Jamal Lewis is returning from an ACL injury, where he missed the entire season. Serving as his backup on the departmentat chart are rookies Tellis Redman and Chester Taylor.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has implemented the 3-4 defense this season. Mike will audition many no-names to fill the void left by retired linemen Tony Siragusa and free agent Sam Adams. Leading the charge will be 10-year veteran Michael McCray and rookie Anthony Weaver. In the new defensive alignment, linebackers will add a fourth member. After losing Jamie Sharper in the expansion draft to Houston, Ray Lewis and Peter Bowlware will be paired with former defensive end Adalius Thomas. Rounding out the fourth spot will be either third-year man Shannon Taylor, Edgerton Hartwell or free-agent rookie Bart Scott.

Join the team for training camp at McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College) in Westminster this month. Admission is free! Last year over 110,000 fans visited the Ravens training camp.

This year's special activities include "Ravens Town" and "Junior Training Camp."

Ravens town will allow fans to test skills in several categories. There's an obstacle course. And then there's a "Quarterback Challenge" in which contestants attempt to throw a football through a target banner, testing their accuracy.A Field Goal Fantasy involves kicking the football through the uprights of an inflatable goal post. And then there's the Speed Toss: Throw the football through a target banner and measure your throwing speed.

Junior Training Camp consists of six drills for children: Quarterback Challenge, Chutes and Ladders, Running-Stumbling-Fumbling, Kickoff and Return, Receiver Relay, and Running Back Challenge.

Chutes and Ladders, for example, allows kids to retrieve a football, and then proceed to hurdle two dummies, tackle another, and then maneuver through a zigzag course before throwing the ball back to a coach.

Camp continues until August 20. For further information, visit the Ravens website.

Directions: From Baltimore via-695 to Exit 19 onto I-795 North (Northwest Expressway). Follow signs to Westminster via Route via Route 140 West to Route 31; at blinking light turn left (route 31); at first traffic light turn left onto Main Street. Proceed up the hill; the entrance to the Ravens visitor parking is on your left, look for signs.

What About Them O's?
What has come over the "new and improved" Baltimore Orioles? They were one game under .500 before the All-Star break and came out swinging in the second half of the season. It's too bad this progress might be for naught because of the impending work stoppage. Pitching coach Mark Wiley should be given credit for turning around young pitchers Jorge Julio, Willis Roberts, Sydney Ponson, and Rodrigo Lopez. The team ERA is currently ranked fifth in the America League.

While the team lingers in third place in the American League East, New York and Boston are battling for first place. New York acquired outfielder Raul Modesi and pitcher Jeff Weaver to compete down the stretch. The new additions have bumped the Yankees payroll over $130 million dollars. Baltimore's payroll is a modest $60 million dollars.

Kudos to Pat Tillman of the Arizona Cardinals (National Football League). Pat left his one-million-dollar-a-year job to join the Army Rangers of United States Army at the rate of $18,000 a year. He said that, after the events of September 11, 2001, he felt obligated.


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This story was published on August 7, 2002.