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Baltimore Ravens

Preston: Observations from Ravens' open practice at M&T Bank Stadium

During Sunday night's practice, receiver Mike Wallace ran a 15- to 18-yard comeback rout along the right sideline. He ran the cornerback completely out of the picture before hauling in a 15-yard reception.

It doesn't sound like a big deal, but Wallace has been having a strong training camp. Last year he was used mostly on vertical or crossing routes, but he has been precise on every pattern in the past four days.

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It appears Wallace wants to become the go-to receiver and fill the leadership role vacated by Steve Smith Sr., who retired at the end of last season.

In training camp, Wallace has been feisty, more vocal and relentless in attacking the ball. The Ravens have been fortunate in having two good all-around receivers in Derrick Mason and Smith, both excellent rout runners.

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Maybe Wallace can become the third.

» If the Ravens can develop a downfield passing game and if he can stay healthy, running back Danny Woodhead should be a major weapon in the offense.

Woodhead, in his ninth season, still is a problem for any linebacker to cover in space and if the Ravens can stretch a defense he'll be a prime target on third downs, especially on wheel routes out of the backfield.

So far in training camp he has performed well.

» I can't wait to see rookie outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, the second-round draft pick out of Houston, in a preseason game. He is still uncomfortable in learning the defense, but he does have a nose for the ball.

He also likes being physical and doesn't mind mixing it up with tight ends and offensive linemen.

» Most good rookie pass rushers in college had a signature move and little else, but that doesn't work in the NFL.

Ravens rookie outside linebacker Tim Williams is like a good college wrestler, who can hit multiple moves if the first two don't work. Because of his strong motor, Williams is in constant motion using speed, leverage and flexibility.

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Former Ravens outside linebacker Peter Boulware was a speed guy, but Williams is in the mold of a Michael McCrary or Terrell Suggs.

» There is no sophomore jinx or drop-off in talent in second-year defensive tackle Michael Pierce. He has played well in training camp and seems to be getting more pressure on the quarterback than a year ago.

The Ravens will probably get him off the field in passing situations, but he can collapse a pocket.

» I thought second-year offensive tackle Stephane Nembot would develop into a solid right tackle, but he needs to improve foot speed. He consistently gets beat off the edge. Backup guard/tackle De'Ondre Wesley, a third-year player, has trouble picking up stunts.

Meanwhile, starting center Ryan Jensen has good speed and gets downfield well on screens. He has been a little surprising.

» Coach John Harbaugh probably is going through all his offseason and practice schedules to determine if there is a way to avoid some of the injuries that have hit this team.

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Here is a suggestion: Instead of starting off training camp with three-hour practices, how about going two hours initially and gradually working up to three-hour practices?

I know the Ravens have all of these minicamps and workout routines going into training camp, but it still takes the human body time to adjust to working for 180 minutes. The Ravens don't bang and hit all the time like under former Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, but it still takes time for the body to get acclimated with the heat and other conditions of training camp.

» The best moments of Sunday night's practice at M&T Bank Stadium were the unveiling of the Brandon Williams Dance Cam and the interaction with fans, particularly one young girl.

The Ravens, and I don't know how they will do it, have to cleverly work that routine into every home game. Everyone in the stadium was laughing when Williams hit that hand stand.

» Best quote of the night belonged to former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis. When asked what it takes to be a 2,000-yard rusher, Lewis hesitated but then said: "A bad quarterback."

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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