GEARING UP FOR THE NEW SEASON:

Ravens Training Starts Soon & World Is Watching

by Darrell K. Carter
       Have you notice all the Ravens stories this year? When you’re the ‘World Champions’ and from Baltimore—you will get the ink. Most people in the area believe the Ravens will win another Super Bowl title and make world headlines again in January 2002. Get ready! Training camp starts July 29 at Western Maryland College.

       The off-season was a busy time for the defending Super Bowl Champions. It all started with the free agent signings of All-Pro quarterback Elvis Grbec and superstar tackle Leon Searcy. Draft day featured another stellar performance from director of college scouting Phil Salvage and vice-president of personnel (a.k.a. general manager) Ozzie Newsome. Selecting Arizona State All-Pac 10 tight end Todd Heap, with the last pick in the first round, was a mistake for the other 30 teams. Head coach Brain Billick’s confidence in second-round pick cornerback Gary Baxter of Baylor University, prompted the wavering of defensive backs Clarence Love and Anthony Poindexter.

       The off-season became still more interesting. Not only did defensive lineman Tony Siragusa make several television appearances, Hollywood insiders believe he is a lock for the cable hit television show “Sopranos.” Siragusa has agreed to appear on HBO’s “Inside The NFL” for eight episodes.

       Also, HBO and NFL Films will feature the Ravens in the first sports reality series, “Hard Knocks,” about their work in training camp. The first episode will debut on Wednesday, August 1st and continue on Wednesdays through the season finale September 5.

       In June, the team made an unforgettable stop by the White House to visit President George W. Bush. It’s not unusual for a championship team to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, unless the attire is questionable....

       Ok, enough of the Hollywood gossip! Back to training camp!

Elvis is in the Building

       The mix of veterans and young players in Camp Billick 2001 has the American Football Conference Central Division favoring Baltimore for the first time since the team moved to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996. The addition of veterans, such as 16-year star quarterback Randall Cunningham, reunites Billick with one of his record-setting key offensive players during his days in Minnesota.

       Second-year quarterback Chris Redman moves up the department chart to the number-two quarterback slot. (It has been well documented that the signing of Elvis Grbec signaled the end of starting Super Bowl quarterback Trent Dilfer, therefore promoting Redman, and bringing in Cunningham.)

Harris is Strong

       A record-setting defense! That was the battle cry in 2000. The defense gave up 165 points, breaking the old 16-game record set by the 1986 Chicago Bears.

       Strong safety Kim Herring was the only starting member of the defense to leave via free agency. Backup safety Corey Harris will resume Herring’s old position, though Harris started several games at the strong side while Herring was recovering from a shoulder injury late in the season.

Ex-XFL Prospects in Camp

       The now defunct XFL football league is a distant memory. The start-up league premiered in February with great fanfare, then fizzled out in May like a famous over-the-counter pain reliever. Offensive guard Bennie Anderson of the former Chicago Enforcers, safety Pete Destefano of the former San Francisco Demons, and punter Noel Prefontaine of the champions Los Angelas Xtreme, will attempt to make the Ravens roster.
       Want to watch the Ravens practice? Here’s how to get to Western Maryland College: From Baltimore take I-695 to exit 19 onto I-795 North (Northwest Expressway) and continue to its completion. Follow signs to Westminster via Route 140 West to Route 31 South; at blinking yellow light turn left (Route 31); at first traffic light turn left on Main Street. Proceed up the hill; the entrance to Ravens’ visitor parking is on your left—look for signs. Call the Carroll County visitor center for more info at 800-272-1933.

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This story was published on June 27, 2001.