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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continue to deal with health concerns along their defensive line as defensive tackle Arthur Jones has already been ruled out for Thursday’s opener against the Denver Broncos with what was listed as an illness.
Jones’ status remains a mystery as the starting defensive tackle hasn’t practiced since playing in the team’s third preseason game on Aug. 22. Coach John Harbaugh said on Aug. 27 that Jones was dealing with a personal health issue but didn’t divulge any other specifics.
“Art had an issue — it’s not football-related,” Harbaugh said at the time. “I’m going to leave it to Art to explain what it was, but it was more of a personal health thing that’s not serious. But we just held him back this week.”
Though the Ravens figure to be playing extensively in the nickel package against Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and a trio of talented receivers, Jones is one of the team’s better defensive linemen against the run, making his absence concerning for defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Free-agent acquisition Marcus Spears will likely start in Jones’ place in the Ravens’ base defense.
Jones isn’t the only injured member of the defensive line as rookie Brandon Williams missed his second straight practice and had his right foot in a walking boot on Monday, an indication that he won’t be available in Thursday’s season-opening game. He played 39 defensive snaps in the preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams last Thursday but hasn’t practiced since then.
Others who weren’t absent during the portion of practice open to the media on Monday included wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and tight end Dennis Pitta (hip). As expected, Pitta was officially ruled out for Thursday’s game and is expected to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return on Tuesday afternoon.
Rush specialist Pernell McPhee (knee) was practicing for the second straight day after missing the last two weeks of preseason action.
The good news for the Ravens was tight end Ed Dickson being listed as a full participant in Monday’s workout, a strong indication that he will be ready to go against the Broncos as many expected when he made his return to the practice field two weeks ago.
Newly-claimed veteran linebacker Robert James was taking part in his first practice a day after being added from the Atlanta Falcons. He is expected to mostly be a special-teams contributor.
“He’s played on all four special-teams phases,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “He’s been a productive tackler for [the Falcons]. He’s a real good blocker, and we’ll see how it works out in practice today. But I think we’re able to get a guy — much like our personnel office has done in the past — at the last second and come in and help us immediately. We’re excited about his presence here.”
Outside linebacker John Simon is now wearing No. 94 after wearing No. 47 in the spring and preseason.
Here’s Monday’s official injury report:
OUT: DT Art Jones (illness – non-football injury), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Ed Dickson (thigh)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB CJ Anderson (knee), CB Champ Bailey (foot), TE Joel Dreessen (knee)
LIMITED: G Chris Kuper (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DE Robert Ayers (achilles), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), QB Brock Owsweiler (left shoulder), WR Wes Welker (ankle)