While the Ravens are by no means through with their preparations for the 2010 regular season, training camp has now reached an end.
After today's morning walk-through, the players will pack up their gear, check out of the Best Western Westminster, and make the trek down Route 140 back to the Owings Mills area.
The team will continue to practice at The Castle for the next few weeks, but the schedule will be different, and the intensity will be toned down a bit.
Even though training camp is now over, the memories of camp (I'm struggling to hold back tears) are not forgotten. Here are the best and worst moments of Ravens training camp 2010:
Best Hit: There weren't any huge "Oh my goodness, did you see that?" type hits this training camp, but one of the bigger ones came on the first day the veterans were in camp for full contact drills. Safety Dawan Landry, known as a big-time hitter, laid a shoulder/forearm into Willis McGahee as the running back made a turn upfield. The result of the hit? McGahee had to leave practice, suffered a split lip, and needed a dental implant.
Best Tongue-Lashing: John Harbaugh screaming at his first-team defense for their inability to stop the second-team offense in the red zone. After the offensive back-ups ran three straight successful running plays against the Ravens' top defensive front, Harbaugh gave his best Rex Ryan impression and started letting the expletives fly. We don't usually see (or hear) that side of Harbaugh, but he surely lit a fire under his top defensive players that morning.
Best Catch: Donte' Stallworth got tricky on two separate occasions this camp, employing an interesting tactic to bring in a pass despite being well-covered. Twice (once mid-way through camp and once yesterday morning) Stallworth was blanketed in coverage by a defensive back, but he managed to tip a long pass over the defender and make the grab. The first time he pulled that trick, Stallworth capped it off by sprinting in for a touchdown.
Best Joke About a Teammate: Stallworth will take home this honor as well. Less than a week into camp, Stallworth came to the podium after practice to talk with reporters. The Ravens' new wide receiver was asked about the energy of Derrick Mason, who is now going into his 14th NFL season. Stallworth responded with the best one-liner of camp: "It's still hard for me to believe that he's 56 years old."
Best Weight Change: There's not even a question who wins this honor; you've got to give it to Terrell Suggs. The linebacker ballooned to 283 pounds last offseason and posted a career-low sack total, but he came into camp noticeably slimmer. He's now down to 263 pounds and is in fantastic shape. The three-time Pro Bowler looked fast, agile and motivated in practice, and appears to be back in his peak form.
Worst Press Conference: Domonique Foxworth is an eloquent guy and is very media-friendly, so you wouldn't expect him to be mentioned in this category. But the press conference that the cornerback gave after tearing his ACL on the first day of camp was a depressing scene, even from a reporter's perspective. Foxworth leaned on his crutches and answered every question tossed his way, but his comments about blaming himself for his injury must have been tough for his teammates and coaches to read. His injury left the Ravens scrambling to make sure they have enough healthy cornerbacks to start the season.
Worst Practice Attire: On more than a couple occasions this camp, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe decided to wear sweatpants out to practice in the 90+ degree heat. Why Ellerbe would choose to be even more hot and uncomfortable than he would have been otherwise, I have no idea. But if I was drenched in sweat as I was watching practice in shorts and a polo, I can't even imagine how hot Ellerbe must have been taking part in practice in a helmet, pads, and sweatpants.
Worst Mismatch: Most starting offensive linemen can't stop Haloti Ngata unless they get the help of a double-team. Now imagine how Ngata fares when he goes 1-on-1 against a backup lineman with little to no NFL game experience. There were a few moments in camp when Ngata would match up against a backup lineman (Joe Reitz, David Hale, Bryan Mattison) in 1-on-1 drills. As could be expected, Ngata absolutely dominated, often knocking his offensive counterpart to the turf.
Worst Field Goal Attempt: This honor doesn't go to Shayne Graham or Billy Cundiff. It goes to safety Tom Zbikowski. After returning an interception for a touchdown during full-team drills one morning, Zbikowski tossed the ball to cornerback Chris Carr, who sprinted over to 10-yard-line and got in position as a field goal holder. Zbikowski got a running start towards the ball and tried to boot it through the uprights, but failed miserably. The kick came up about three yards short and was wide right as well. Don't count on Zibby making a position change any time soon.
Worst Weight Change: Offensive tackle Jared Gaither dropped 29 pounds this offseason, a move which he says was intended to take some stress off his injured toe. Gaither didn't consult with the Ravens about this decision, however, and the coaches were less than thrilled when they saw a significantly slimmed down Gaither at the start of camp. The Maryland product saw very limited practice time before he started experiencing cramps and back spasms, and eventually, he was diagnosed with a small tear in his back. I certainly don't know if the weight loss is to blame for the injuries (the extent of my medical knowledge is that I shouldn't scratch a bug bite), but it seems like it played a factor.