Team gets heated in humid weather

The Baltimore Sun

Besides fighting each other, the Ravens battled another opponent yesterday: the heat.

Hazy, hot and humid conditions blanketed Ravens training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster, and the weather played a significant role during yesterday's practice, which was the first session featuring full pads and live hitting.

Rookie fullback Le'Ron McClain lay on the turf for several minutes with what appeared to be heat-related cramps. The team's trainers tried to stretch out McClain's left calf and, after the fourth-round pick took off his jersey and pads, wrapped his upper body with wet towels and bags of ice.

The heat might have exacerbated a skirmish between linebacker Jarret Johnson and rookie tight end Marcus Freeman, and shoving matches between wide receiver Demetrius Williams and cornerback Evan Oglesby and wide receiver Romby Bryant and cornerback Corey Ivy.

"It's really, really hot out here," linebacker Terrell Suggs said with a smile and beads of sweat on his face. "The day started out hotter, and that's actually the hardest part of our practice, the beginning. It was hot, but it cooled down. It's taking its toll on some of the rookies and some of the vets, but not necessarily me. But it is getting hot out here."

The team installed water-spraying fans on the sidelines, and many players immersed themselves in the mist during a water break. Many of them also stayed hydrated, which did not go unnoticed by coach Brian Billick.

"If you watch our training staff, they do a great job," he said. "They are working it nonstop in the end to make sure they've got fluids in them and monitoring where these guys are."

Perhaps one benefit of the heat was that players were quick to step in to break up the fracas between Johnson and Freeman because they didn't want to run sprints afterward.

"The veterans were diving in, saying, 'Get off because we don't want Coach to go off and [have us] do sprints in this heat,' " Billick said. "They did the right thing."

Rookie injury update

First-round pick Ben Grubbs might be able to play in tomorrow's scrimmage against the Washington Redskins, but the outlook isn't as rosy for fourth-round selection Antwan Barnes.

Grubbs, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on Tuesday, suited up yesterday and participated in individual drills. "I've got to get my confidence back in my right leg, which I did," he said. "I came out here [Wednesday] and did some things on my own. I feel pretty good."

Barnes' right ankle was heavily taped, and the linebacker had a limp during practice. "I'm basically doing some things to get the ankle stronger," he said, adding that he didn't expect to work out until Monday.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (right thigh bruise) did not practice for the second straight day, and he might be held out of the scrimmage. Tight end Quinn Sypniewski (stomach flu) said he is improving and should be able to play tomorrow.

Ross might be on shaky ground

With return specialist B.J. Sams healthy again and rookie Yamon Figurs impressing coaches with his speed, Cory Ross knows he faces stiff competition at kick returner this season.

The former Nebraska running back who joined the team as a rookie free agent in 2006 took over return duties for the injured Sams during the last four games of the season, averaging 21.6 yards on nine attempts. While the edge is clearly with Sams so far, Ross said he is not letting that affect his focus on trying to get better every day.

"Competition is competition wherever you're at," said Ross, who added that he learned a lot from Sams last year. "The only thing I can do is just have fun and do what I do."

End zone

Parking for tomorrow's scrimmage costs $10, and tailgating is permitted. The parking lots will open at 8 a.m., and the gates at M&T; Bank Stadium will open at 11 a.m. ... After Monday's morning practice, the Ravens will announce the launch of the sale of Ravens license plates. The plates will cost $55, which includes a Motor Vehicle Administration fee of $25 and a tax-deductible gift of $30 to the Ravens All Community Team Foundation. ... Today's afternoon practice, originally scheduled from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., is closed to the public.

Sun reporters Don Markus and Patrick Gutierrez contributed to this article.

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