Harbaugh kicks off his second training camp with questions at receiver

July 27, 2009 | Luke Jones

Less than 24 hours after newly-signed receiver Drew Bennett abruptly announced his retirement, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was disappointed but reiterated the Ravens would move on with the players they already have.

Bennett retired after an arthritic condition caused his knee to swell up after working out and signing a contract with the Ravens on Friday.  The eight-year veteran spent most of his career with the Tennessee Titans but spent his final two seasons in St. Louis with the Rams.  Bennett is the second Ravens wide receiver to retire in the last two weeks, though Derrick Mason’s absence clearly has a much bigger impact on the offense.

“I think that’s why you put guys through a workout at this stage; it’s to find out how they recover the next day and what not,” said Harbaugh.  “[Bennett's] knees just didn’t calm down…And it is time for him to move on.  He didn’t feel like he could get through a practice, let alone a season at this level.”

Harbaugh reiterated the Ravens would be adding a wide receiver but did not mention any specific name, saying it could be a veteran or younger player.  The Ravens have signed receiver Biren Ealy to replace Bennett on the roster.  Having only one career reception, Ealy is probably not the last addition to the wide receiver position.

While the Ravens were adding Ealy to the roster on Monday, they also waived tight end Quinn Sypniewski.  The former fifth-round draft pick out of Colorado had struggled to recover from a horrific knee injury dating back to last season.  Harbaugh said the young tight end was still in the team’s plans, but the organization could not afford to keep him on the 80-man training camp roster at this time.

Harbaugh has not had any further communication with Mason since meeting with him in person last week.  Mason retired two weeks ago, though he has not submitted the official league paperwork.  The star receiver was previously seeking a contract extension this offseason.

The second-year coach is more concerned with the players that will be taking the field at McDaniel College this week.

“We’re not talking about any specific players or anything like that,” Harbaugh said.  “Everybody knows the situation.  We’ve got a job to do today, our guys can’t wait to go to work, and that’s it.  And that’s what training camp is about.”

The other big story of the day is the absence of first-round pick Michael Oher.  The right tackle from Ole Miss is the only draft pick yet to sign from the Ravens’ 2009 class.  Only four of the NFL’s 32 first-round picks have signed contracts as of Monday afternoon.

Should Oher fail to report by Monday evening, he would become the first rookie holdout since Haloti Ngata in 2006.

“The agent wants to make sure he does the right thing by Michael, and we want to make sure that we do the right thing by Michael, too,” Harbaugh said.  “We want to get the best contract we can for him as soon as we can.  It should happen pretty soon.”

Despite the questions at wide receiver, the head coach is ready to kick off the Ravens’ 14th summer at McDaniel College.

“Everybody that I have talked to is excited to go to training camp,” Harbaugh said.  “They’re excited to go to work.  I know the coaches feel the same way, and the players feel that way.”

- The Ravens also waived guard Brian Johnson, a member of the practice squad last season.

- Veterans that reported to training camp on Monday include Willis McGahee, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Marshal Yanda, Adam Terry, Samari Rolle, Kelly Gregg, Dawan Landry, and Antwan Barnes.

The Ravens will announce the players to be placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Tuesday.

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