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Late For Work 8/3: Torrey Smith, Olympian Michael Phelps Trade Tweets

Ozzie: fastest group of WRs ever. Flacco over being conservative. K.O. stonewalls Sergio.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 at 9:19 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Smith, Phelps Trade Tweets

Shortly after American swimmer Michael Phelps made history by winning a gold medal in the 4 × 200 meter freestyle relay to become the most decorated Olympian ever (19 overall medals at the time), receiver Torrey Smith tweeted about the unprecedented accomplishment.

“Really enjoying watching history,” wrote Smith. “@MichaelPhelps is that dude!!!

You could say Phelps still had a lot on his plate when he received Smith’s tweet.

He was still preparing for the men’s 200 individual medley – which he ended up winning over fellow American Ryan Lochte yesterday and set another Olympic record with the most gold medals ever (16 golds, 20 total medals) – and was bombarded with a host of other tweets and calls.

The list of those reaching out to Phelps included Lil Wayne, Kimmie Meissner, Warren Sapp, Young Jeezy and Missy Franklin. Oh and not to mention a personal phone call from President Barack Obama.

Still, Phelps replied, showing some excitement to see Smith in action himself.

“Thanks bro!!! Looking forward for the season to start!!!” he wrote.

Phelps, a Baltimore native who was born and raised in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of Towson, is a self-professed Ravens fanatic.

He served as an honorary captain at a Titans-Ravens game in 2008 after he won eight gold medals in the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Unsure that he wanted to compete in the London Olympics, Phelps credited linebacker Ray Lewis for helping him rekindle his Olympic fire and motivating him to continue his rigorous training.

“Someone who helped me find the passion back was Ray Lewis,” Phelps told The Baltimore Sun in May. “He’s been able to help me kind of just find me.

“I love to watch him play. It sends chills up my spine. And his words are so powerful. It’s what friends are for.”

Ozzie: Fastest Group Of Ravens WRs Ever

“These Ravens can fly,” wrote ESPN’s John Clayton after visiting Ravens training camp in Owings Mills, Md.

It was just over a year ago when the biggest knock on the Ravens receivers was that they were too slow and couldn’t gain separation against good man-to-man defense. Clayton says their lack of speed would cause quarterback Joe Flacco to hold the ball too long, waiting for running back Ray Rice or one of the tight ends to get open.

But Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome seems to have cured that problem and told Clayton that he believes “this is the fastest group of receivers he’s ever put together.”

Newsome got to work by first adding No. 2 receiver Smith in the second round of the 2011 draft. Then speedster Jacoby Jones was cut by the Texans this offseason and Ozzie “jumped on him.” LaQuan Williams, an undrafted rookie free agent from last year, and 2012 sixth-rounder Tommy Streeter have wheels of their own.

Flacco Over Being Conservative, Wants To Attack

With Flacco taking more of a leadership role in Baltimore, he continues to suggest to the coaching staff that he wants the offense to be more aggressive, even when the Ravens have a fourth-quarter lead, according to Clayton.

“For more than a decade, the Ravens have been constructed to win with defense and good running,” he wrote. “Flacco wants the Ravens not to be as cautious. Because the Ravens defense is so good, Flacco thinks the Ravens should go for the jugular.

“Instead of sitting on 17-3 leads that could end up being 20-17 victories, Flacco wants more offense and more points. Not a bad idea.”

Harbaugh believes Flacco will have a breakout year in 2012, wrote Clayton, and he’s not the only one raving about the fifth-year veteran.

While at practice, the ESPN analyst noted that teammates and even beat reporters are giving Flacco shining reviews.

“[T]his is clearly his best training camp in terms of focus and execution,” Clayton wrote.

There has been a perception in the past that Flacco hasn’t been trusted to be given the reigns of the offense or the ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron told reporters yesterday that Flacco “has a lot of flexibility,” which varies based on what the offensive line can do and some other factors.

But Cameron summed up his quarterback’s ability this way:

“I guess the best way for me to be able to word it is that there is nothing we wouldn’t be able to do with Joe Flacco at quarterback in any aspect of the game,” he said.

K.O. Stonewalls Sergio … Twice

As soon as he recovered from back spasms and returned to the field, rookie offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele “has been a fixture” with the first-team offense at right tackle.

And he seems to be fitting in well.

As The Baltimore Sun put it, K.O. K-Oed pass rusher Sergio Kindle yesterday, “giving up no ground to the twisting and turning outside linebacker.” And he didn’t just stonewall Kindle once. He did it twice.

“Osemele has a future with the offensive line and represents good insurance if the Ravens can’t count upon McKinnie,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “But coach John Harbaugh’s preference is to start the five best offensive linemen, so that means McKinnie, Oher, left guard Bobbie Williams, center Matt Birk and right guard Marshal Yanda.”

Pees Not Worried About Upshaw – Yet

Baltimore is relying a great deal on rookie Courtney Upshaw as the Ravens look to fill the void left by Terrell Suggs.

But the Ravens’ top 2012 draft pick missed his fourth consecutive practice of training camp yesterday with a bruised right shoulder.

It’s not time to get too worried about his absences … yet.

“I’ll start getting worried if it’s halfway through the [preseason],” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees told reporters. “What we need to do is just get him out there – especially for some preseason games – and have him hit and get hit and actually play. It’s one thing to go out and practice. There’s different situations here in practice that are just not the same as game-type tempo and game-type situations, and that’s [why] we need to get him out there.

“I’m not too concerned yet until if we get down the road and he’s not playing in any games. Then I will be concerned.”

Quick Hits

  • Overheard by Matt Vensel in practice yesterday: “‘Chad, go grab my Pedialyte! Isn’t that your job? Don’t you know that people are looking for jobs?” – strong safety Bernard Pollard to director of media relations Chad Steele. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis’ statement reacting to his arrest and being charged with child abandonment: “My arrest on Wednesday evening was the result of a misunderstanding rather than the result of me being an unfit father. I am a responsible parent and have always provided for my children. That fact cannot be disputed. I have made mistakes in my life, but failing to care for my children is not one of them. I’m confident this matter will be resolved as the legal process plays out, and I will continue to work toward an arrangement within the court system that will allow me to effectively co-parent my son.” [The Carroll County Times]
  • @Ravens: I have received the #Ravens practice playlist. Not all approved yet, but I see some Eminem, a lot of Jay Z, George Clinton and Run-DMC. [Twitter]
  • @RayRice27: Happy birthday to my best friend in the whole wide world. I love you mom [Twitter]
  • @RavensCommunity: Hosted Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County today at training camp practice! Happy faces! [Twitter]
  • Hensley, in your opinion, who has the best secondary in the AFC North? “Baltimore has the best corners in the division. Pittsburgh has the best safeties.” [ESPN]
  • @Crushboy31 [Bernard Pollard]: Fast hard practice today!!! I see something special coming together… [Twitter]
  • Speaking of Pollard, he and the rest of the Ravens secondary aren’t backing off their claim that they’re the best unit in the NFL. “If I wasn’t to piggyback that, I would be wrong,” Pollard said of Lardarius Webb’s original assertion. “I think we have a really, really good secondary. We have a Hall of Famer at free safety, really good guys on the outside and I’m kind of a piece of the puzzle. So we all complement each other very well.” [The Baltimore Sun/CSNBaltimore.com]

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