The Ravens gave their fans a treat with an open practice held at their home stadium on Saturday, August 4th. I don't know why more teams don't do the same in their respective hometowns... It's such a great PR gesture.
Gates opened at 3:30 p.m. and practice started at 5. The practice was free and open to the public.
One of the things Garrett Downing of the Ravens.com staff advised us to watch in the 11-on-11 drills was the emergence of undrafted linebacker Albert McClellan as he fights for a spot in the LB rotation.
Albert McClellan, OLB and special teams, 6-2, 255, acquired by Ravens in 2009 as undrafted free agent out of Marshall...spent 2010 on PS8...got some playing time in 2011...and now looking to establish himself in the defensive rotation.
McClellan is hoping to take on a larger defensive role this season and is competing with Paul Kruger for a starting outside linebacker spot. He has not generated much buzz in the media, but the coaching staff has said on numerous occasions that he’s off to an impressive start.
“That guy, really, I think has had a real good camp so far,” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. “It’s early, but he’s had a good camp.” McClellan primarily played special teams last year, but did get defensive action in seven games. His biggest performance came when he started for injured linebacker Ray Lewis on Thanksgiving Day against San Francisco. McClellan registered four tackles and helped lead the Ravens to a 16-6 victory.
He came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Marshall, and spent the 2010 season on the Ravens practice squad. At 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, McClellan is built to play a number of different positions. He was a defensive end in college, but during his time with the Ravens he has played inside and outside linebackers, as well as special teams.
“Albert is very versatile,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “The more you can do in our whole system, the better off you are going to be. Albert can play a lot of positions because he is so smart.”
In addition to competing with Kruger for a starting job, McClellan will challenge Sergio Kindle and rookie Courtney Upshaw for playing time. And if one of the inside linebackers like Lewis or Jameel McClain were to go down with an injury, McClellan has shown he is capable of filling in for them. Wherever he ends up playing, McClellan’s focus right now is to keep performing at a high level in practice and continue to work his way up.
“I’m looking at it as an opportunity,” he said. “I’m just taking every chance that I get. I’m not going to turn down anything and I’m going to take on as much as I can handle."
Another guy Downing says Ravens fans should focus on during practice is newcomer Corey Graham.
Graham, 27, signed with the Ravens after five years with the Chicago Bears. He played every aspect of Chicago’s special-teams unit and was a Pro Bowler last season after recording 22 special-teams tackles and one forced fumble. But he also wanted to have a chance to play defense, which drew him to Baltimore as a free agent. The Ravens released veteran cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr this offseason, creating an opening in the secondary that Graham thought he could capture...
Graham has been a consistent standout of the defense, working as the nickel and dime cornerback and taking a number of reps with the first team. He’s made several interceptions in practice – including one Thursday that he picked off in the end zone are returned to midfield – and looks primed to take on a valuable role on defense.
"I knew that when they got an opportunity to finally see me play that they would like what I could do out there,” Graham said. "It’s not something where I didn’t know if I could play defense or corner in this league. I knew it from the beginning.”