A year ago, receiver Randy Hymes had much to worry about.
He was an undrafted free agent from a small school who was attempting to make a professional team at a position he had not played since he was a sophomore.
Now, after starting the final two games of the season last year and leading the team in receiving yards in the first preseason game on Saturday, Hymes is more relaxed than ever.
"Coming from last year, I spent a lot of energy being nervous. But this training camp for me is going pretty smooth," said Hymes, who was a quarterback at Grambling. "I'm not nervous, worried about anything, am comfortable and know the system. I know the plays, and coaches feel comfortable with me being out there."
Hymes made the best two plays for the Ravens in the loss to the Buffalo Bills. Showing some uncharacteristic elusiveness and flat-out speed, he took a 20-yard catch 21 more yards on a pass from Anthony Wright on the final possession of the first half. The play set up a 54-yard Matt Stover field-goal try, which missed left.
Hymes then caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Boller with 23 seconds left in the game to bring the Ravens within a point. He was the go-to guy on the ensuing two-point conversion, but could not pull down the lob pass.
"That's what coaches are looking for," Hymes said. "Who is going to step up? Who is going to take charge when it's crunch time? That's how I felt when I was out there.
"I'll take that week and bring it with me for this week. I'll probably get a lot more reps now that Frank [Sanders] is down. I'll just be ready like I was this past weekend."
Sanders did not practice yesterday and Hymes will likely see an increased role in the first half of Saturday night's game in Atlanta.
"I think it gave him some confidence to know that he could impact the game," coach Brian Billick said of Hymes' performance. "Every chance he gets to do that is good."
Cook on move
With right guard Bennie Anderson limping on a sore ankle, Damion Cook practiced with the starters for the second straight day.
Cook has not played guard before for the Ravens, but Mike Flynn's injury moved top backup Casey Rabach to center full time, leaving the Ravens thin at that position.
"It's not an easy transition, but it's what they are asking me," said Cook, who played in three games on special teams last season. "If they ask me to play left tackle, right guard, quarterback, wherever it is, I don't care. I'm going to give it all I got. It's not the easiest thing in the world, but the more reps I can get at the position, the more confident I get."
O. Brown eager
It looks as though right tackle Orlando Brown will return to action Saturday.
Brown was sidelined because of knee irritation for the scrimmage and the first preseason game. He hasn't played in a game since a referee's flag hit him in the eye in the 1999 season, forcing him out of football.
"I'm going to play," Brown said.
Of the rest of the starters, Cornell Brown (hamstring) and Sanders missed their third straight practice and probably will not play. Punter Dave Zastudil (hamstring) and Flynn (knee) are also out.
Avoiding slop ...
For the second time in less than a week, the Ravens moved practice from their training camp at McDaniel College to M&T; Bank Stadium.
The grass practice fields were not covered during Tuesday's downpour, and the fields were still wet yesterday morning.
"I didn't want to do it on a sloppy surface," Billick said.
The Ravens returned to practice in Westminster for the afternoon session.
... and traffic
One thing the Ravens didn't have to worry about was morning traffic. The team had a five-motorcycle police escort to the stadium.
"The escorts and our administration did a great job," Billick said. "We went 45 minutes down and got off the bus just like high school. It's get your pads off, sit on the bus, work, get back on stinky as all get out, take your pads off and come on back. We got a lot done."
Linebacker Terrell Suggs spent a good portion of the morning practice working without his helmet, presumably because of another practical joke. Suggs missed the afternoon practice after having a magnetic resonance imaging on his neck. The team will know more about his prognosis today, but the injury is not believed to be serious. ... Wright ran the scout team for the morning practice, which at least got him on the field. Wright has seen a decreased amount of work with the starters this week. "It's all part of the rotations," Billick said. "It is nothing that we haven't expected. It's just the way it's going down this week. He understands what we are trying to get done."