The intensity and pace of this Ravens training camp is much greater than it has been in the past. In the first practice Saturday morning, tight end Todd Heap got into a fight with outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.
Todd Heap? He never fights anyone. But yet, here he was going toe-to-toe with Johnson, one of his best friends on the team. It gets better. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata rushes over and pushes Heap, and then Heap starts punching Ngata. This wasn't the type of stuff where Heap was waiting for someone to step in and break up the fight. This was like Ali-Frazier, Leonard-Duran and Hagler-Hearns.
Wow. I can't wait for the next practice.
New head coach John Harbaugh said it was going to be an open competition, and it really has been. All three quarterbacks -- Joe Flacco, Troy Smith and Kyle Boller -- have taken equal repetitions with the first team. Right now, there doesn't seem to be a difference among the three except that Flacco will occasionally put a ball in a window where the others can't.
Running back Ray Rice, the Ravens second-round pick from Rutgers, is a tough little dude and he always seems to find a way out of trouble. He took a handoff to the left during practice, appeared to be bottled up by four players, but then spun right and beat everybody around the corner for a 40-yard touchdown. It's early in training camp, but I like this kid.
Some other players who have made favorable impressions are right tackle Adam Terry, left guard Ben Grubbs (great initial pop) and cornerback Derrick Martin. Martin has been getting some good jumps on passes thrown his way, and he has shown good closing speed.
The catch of the morning belonged to second-year wide receiver Matt Willis while hauling in a mid-range pass from Flacco across the middle. I swear Willis had glue on his fingers because this pass was on his fingernails, but he still hauled it in.