As training camp looms, Ravens are boring -- in a good way

After a busy start to the offseason, the defending Super Bowl champions are focused on new season

If you had to sum up the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens in one word as they head into training camp next week, I think we all know what that word would be.

Boring.

Not bad boring. Not the kind of boring that means there's no reason to pay attention, of course. Certainly not the snooze-because-you-always-lose kind of boring that will infect some of the training camps at the other end of the NFL pecking order.

No, we're talking about the kind of uneventful, controversy-free boring that allows coach John Harbaugh to go to bed every night with a beatific smile on his face. He probably knocks on the bedside table just in case, but the Ravens will begin reporting to The Castle next Sunday with few distractions and fewer pressing questions about the makeup and outlook of the team than they've had in a very long time.

This should go down as one of the bigger upsets of the offseason when you consider that — just a few months ago — the Ravens were dealing with more manufactured drama than an entire season of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

They had abandonment issues involving their two most storied players. Ray Lewis retired after being the emotional leader of the franchise for most of its history in Baltimore and fellow slam-dunk Hall of Famer Ed Reed jumped ship to sign as a free agent with the Houston Texans.

They had contract intrigue. Joe Flacco and team officials waited until after he led the Ravens to the Lombardi Trophy to get serious about the long-term deal that temporarily made him the highest-paid quarterback in the league.

They had the equivalent of several high-profile divorces, cutting loose go-to receiver Anquan Boldin, hard-hitting safety Bernard Pollard and rough-and-tumble fullback Vonta Leach to gain salary cap room, and losing Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams to free agency.

Throw in the Rolando McClain situation and the controversy over the regular season opener and, really, the only things missing in the reality drama department were the creepy stage mother and the former Olympic decathlete with the curious resemblance to Joan Rivers.

It's pretty amazing to look at where the Ravens were during the frenetic aftermath of the Super Bowl and look at the team that will go through its first full workout 10 days from now. The angst that accompanied all those comings and goings has been replaced by the peaceful easy feeling that everything is now as it should be.

Flacco is going to be around for the foreseeable future. Ozzie Newsome worked his usual offseason magic and stole top-notch pass rusher Elvis Dumervil from the Denver Broncos. And the front office completed a surprisingly comprehensive retooling of the defense with several other free agents and a solid draft class that features safety Matt Elam, linebacker Arthur Brown and defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

The past couple of years, the Ravens have had to sweat out Monday's deadline for signing franchised players to long-term deals before getting deals done with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and running back Ray Rice. This year, they didn't even have to use the franchise tag.

Everything has fallen into place so well that Harbaugh might consider changing the team's catch phrases from "W.I.N." and "The team, the team, the team" to something a little more in keeping with this new distraction-free environment.

"Serenity Now!"

You think Bill Belichick wouldn't like to change places with Harbaugh right now? To the New England Patriots fans who suffered through the recent exodus of Tom Brady's top receivers and will spend this season under the cloud of the pending Aaron Hernandez murder trial, the Under Armour Performance Center must look like the happiest place on earth.

The Broncos, another of the Ravens' top AFC rivals, are still smarting from the fax snafu that led to Dumervil's departure and the recent DUI arrests of a pair of John Elway's top front office lieutenants.

Though the Ravens flirted with a legal entanglement when they signed talented-but-troubled free agent linebacker McClain in early April, he retired so soon after his third arrest in 17 months that it was almost like he was never here.

It has been a disturbing offseason all around the NFL, with 30 players arrested since the start of 2013 and no end in sight to the horrible Hernandez scandal, but all appears to be well in Owings Mills as the Ravens prepare to begin a new season with a number of new faces.

There will be a lot of national attention focused on them during training camp because of their status as defending Super Bowl champions, and if that's the only reason they show up on ESPN's SportsCenter this summer, Harbaugh will be a very happy head coach.

He wants the Ravens to bore you all the way to another Super Bowl.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog, and listen when he co-hosts "The Week in Review" at noon Fridays on WBAL (1090 AM) and at wbal.com.

 
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