Ready or not, Baltimore Ravens training camp has begun. The reigning Super Bowl champions are preparing to defend their title. The team has many new faces after losing eight starters due to free agency, trade and retirement. According the Elias Sports Bureau; no defending Super Bowl winner has lost more than five.
Training camp will give us a glimpse into how the revamped Ravens will look this season. It is easy to say the defense got younger and faster, we need to see it to believe it. Critics are still yammering over trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers, but fans have faith the Ravens will find a suitable player to fill the void and will patiently watch the wide out competition.
Head coach John Harbaugh cancelled the first day of training camp, replacing it with a field trip to Gettysburg, Pa. for team building activities.
The first full squad practice took place on Thursday with picture perfect weather and cooler temps; it was a nice way to start training camp.
While the weather was perfect, the practice was far from it:
“We had a great day,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “I can’t say that we practiced great. We probably practiced like you would expect to practice on the first day of training camp with a full team.”
The second day of practice was better, but the weather wasn’t. The warmer temps brought on a slew of heat cramps and dehydration, the usual annoyances caused by hot and humid summers in Baltimore.
There was a special guest at Friday’s practice. Boston Marathon bombing victim Erika Brannock was invited to the Ravens practice and met coach Harbaugh and some players. The team presented her with a signed football.
Running Back Ray Rice is going the extra mile to help Brannock by auctioning off his Jeep. He plans to give a portion of the proceeds to her to help with living expenses.
“She is just a courageous, courageous person who is fighting like crazy to live a normal, great life with her family and her friends and in her profession,” Harbaugh said. “We’re proud to have her.”
With less than six weeks to the start of the 2013 season, the Ravens have a lot to do before they head to Denver to face the Broncos on September 5.
Truth be told, I’m still not excited about training camp, but I’m warming up to it and I like seeing my Twitter feed filled with camp news and notes.
The Ravens have the added pressure of being Super Bowl champions; critics will watch them under a microscope and scrutinize every move.
It must be hard to return to the practice field after being on top of the mountain. Once again the Ravens are standing at the base and face a long, rough road to get back to the top. Their biggest motivator is the feeling they had at the top; something they will never forget.
Their long journey begins now and I will watch every step along the way. I have no clue what to expect this season; we’ll see what happens on any given Sunday…