WESTMINSTER, Md. — The excitement was palpable as the Ravens took the field for their first full-squad practice on Friday morning, but the mood changed dramatically with the absence of starting cornerback Domonique Foxworth and WNST.net learning he tore the ACL in his right knee on Thursday evening during an “orientation” practice.
The Ravens will now piece together a secondary for the start of training camp as they await the returns of Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb, both returning from ACL injuries last season. With all three cornerbacks currently out of practice, Chris Carr and Travis Fisher lined up with the first-team defense.
Not exactly a tandem that inspires confidence.
Be sure to head to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Domonique Foxworth, John Harbaugh, Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison regarding the Foxworth injury and the first day of full-team workouts.
Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below).
6:30 p.m. — The Ravens have confirmed Jared Gaither was merely dealing with back cramps this afternoon when he was carted off the field. Definitely good news on a day when it’s much needed.
The team has also brought in former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Nashville Dyer, presumably for a tryout. Dyer has also spent time in NFL Europe.
5:20 p.m. — Ed Reed did some conditioning and strength work on his own this afternoon as he continues to recover from offseason hip surgery.
Rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody showed a very impressive bull rush against starting guard Ben Grubbs, pushing him deep into the backfield during 1-on-1 linemen drills. However, right guard Marshal Yanda held his ground against the 350-pound rookie later in the drill.
And the Baltimore defense looked to be in midseason form when K.J. Gerard intercepted a pass and attempted to lateral the football to a teammate. Gerard nearly fumbled but managed to maintain possession.
A nice play, but one that makes fans pull their hair out.
5:15 p.m. — In a day filled with disappointing news, the status of Fabian Washington provides a small beacon of light as the cornerback returned to the practice field this afternoon. He sported a red mesh top over his white practice jersey, indicating no contact for the starting corner.
With the loss of Domonique Foxworth for the season, any progress by Washington or Lardarius Webb is a great piece of news.
5:00 p.m. — If you’re on the WNST Text Service, you just received the news that Jared Gaither was carted off the field with an apparent back injury. There didn’t appear to be an exact moment of injury, as he stood in pain for a few minutes before going to the ground.
He remained on his stomach for a few minutes before taking off his shoulder pads as the training staff applied ice packs to his back. He then gingerly walked over to the cart before laying on it and being taken off the field.
This could simply be a minor issue of some spasms, but with the events of the last 24 hours, it’s hard not to think the absolute worst if you’re a Ravens fan.
2:20 p.m. — Ray Lewis started his 15th training camp with the Ravens on Friday morning, the only player left from the inaugural 1996 season.
The 35-year-old linebacker emphasized the need for the team to move on from the Foxworth injury despite his disappointment and sympathy for his fallen teammate.
“I think every team is going to—one way or another—face some type of adversity through the course of the year,” Lewis said after practice. “It just so happens for us, it came on Day 1. Losing a guy like Foxworth, do you try to replace that guy? No, but the next guy has to step up, and that’s what teams are built by. The bottom line is figure it out, move whatever pieces you have to move around, and just keep moving.”
You can catch the full interview with Ray Lewis in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.
2:10 p.m. — Other highlights of the morning practice took place during 7-on-7 passing drills when Troy Smith connected on a long touchdown pass to Eron Riley. Chris Carr later picked off a Marc Bulger pass and returned it for a touchdown.
The biggest cheers of the day were drawn when Joe Flacco connected with new standout receiver Anquan Boldin for a short touchdown.
“[Flacco’s] a great young talent, and I only see him getting better,” Boldin said after his first training camp practice as a Raven. “This year, they went out and got weapons to put around him, so hopefully he goes out and has a killer year.”
2:00 p.m. — The team spent a good portion of practice in an 11-on-11 “thud” scrimmage (contact without taking anyone to the ground). The first play of the session was a completion from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason.
Other highlights included a Marc Bulger strike to Mark Clayton in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Bulger is still in a bit of a learning mode but saw his participation level increase on Friday compared to the earlier workouts of the week.
Surprisingly, Jameel McClain received extensive reps at the other inside linebacker spot next to Ray Lewis during the 11-on-11 portion. Most expect Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden to compete for the starting job next to the 35-year-old Lewis, but McClain received the reps on the first day.
1:55 p.m. — With the disappointing news of Foxworth’s injury dominating the media’s attention this morning, I’ll remind you a practice actually took place this morning as well.
Offensive tackle Jared Gaither participated fully despite dealing with a foot injury during the OTA schedule. While he’s projected to be the starting right tackle with Michael Oher being shifted to the left side, both players took their turns at each position throughout the morning workout.
In fact, Gaither seemed to receive most reps on the left side as the practice wore on Friday morning. We’ll continue to monitor each young tackle to see if perhaps the Ravens are wavering on the decision to flip-flop the two.
1:35 p.m. — In addition to Heap, cornerback Fabian Washington did not practice on Friday morning despite coming off the PUP list on Thursday. With the injury to Foxworth, the team may choose to be extra cautious with throwing Washington back into the mix full-go.
Walt Harris came off the PUP list and practiced this morning.
Free safety Ed Reed, running back Matt Lawrence, tackle Oniel Cousin, center Matt Birk, cornerback Lardarius Webb, and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo remain on the PUP list. Heap is on the non-football illness list.
In other injury news, running back Willis McGahee lost a tooth and left the field with a member of the training staff in the middle of practice. He was seen walking around the team hotel in good spirits after practice.
1:00 p.m. — As we learned Thursday evening, Todd Heap has been placed on the non-football injury list as he is reportedly suffering from flu-like symptoms. He was dressed in shorts and a jersey and observed practice from the sideline.
12:50 p.m. — Domonique Foxworth just spoke with the media in the lobby of the Best Western and was clearly distraught over the loss of his season before the first day of full-squad workouts. He tore the ACL in his right knee in a non-contract drill on Thursday evening in a workout closed to the media and public.
“I was just running and tried to change directions,” he said. “It’s something I’ve done a million times in my career. This time it just didn’t work.”
Foxworth did not know it was a serious injury as he said the most serious injury of his career had previously been a sprained ankle. He learned the results of the MRI on the right knee during Friday morning’s workout.
“It’s a ton of emotions,” he said. “The biggest one I’m feeling—and I know it’s probably unfounded—but I just feel like I’m letting people down. I know everyone’s excited about this team and excited about this season and my teammates—I know how excited they are—and the fans.”
The Ravens will now explore all external options to add depth with veteran Frank Walker being a logical candidate to return after spending the last two seasons with the team. Walker has been contacted by the team but no offer has been made at this time.
With Foxworth’s injury, the focus will shift even more heavily on the status of Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb, the new projected starters.
“We’re going to be fine, with or without me,” Foxworth said. “They’re going to be fine. I’m going to do what I can to help them. [Secondary coach Chuck Pagano’s] going to do an incredible job. I promise you if there are any shortcomings on this team, it won’t be in the secondary. I can guarantee that.”