Live from Westminster: Veteran CB Harris to IR, Mason and Birk return to practice

August 06, 2010 | Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Walt Harris era has ended before the first preseason game.

The veteran cornerback, who initially rejected a veteran-minimum offer from the Ravens before signing a deal in late June, was placed on Injured Reserve to make room for newly-signed free agent rookie cornerback Chris Hawkins. The rookie from LSU was most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It was previously reported that Harris had been released, but it’s likely he was designated for IR with him suffering from Achilles tendon and knee issues.

Harris was in and out of practice over the first two weeks of training camp as he was dealing with an Achilles tendon issue. The 36-year-old missed all of last season with the San Francisco 49ers due to a torn ACL.

“Walt was really disappointed that he wasn’t able to get healthy and practice,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That was the toughest thing.”

Harbaugh left open the possibility of Harris return should he be able to get healthy, but the two sides did not discuss a return when the Ravens informed Harris of the decision.

Receiver Derrick Mason returned to the practice field Friday morning after being sidelined two days with a right ankle injury. Mason did not appear limited running on the ankle and participated fully in 11-on-11 and individual drills.

The Physically Unable to Perform list shrunk to four on Friday as center Matt Birk returned to the practice field. The 13-year veteran had an elbow procedure in the offseason and had not practiced over the first two weeks of camp. Birk was so excited to return that he was the first lineman on the field Friday morning.

“Great to see [Bird] and [Mason] back,” Harbaugh said after the morning workout. “[Mason]looked 100 percent and [Birk] really looked 100 percent too. I’m sure [Birk] will be a little sore because it’s his first practice, but it was good to see him in there.”

Safety Ed Reed (hip), cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps), and running back Matt Lawrence (knee) remain on the PUP list.

Tackle Jared Gaither continues to suffer from cramps and spasms between his shoulder blades, according to Harbaugh. The right tackle missed Friday morning’s practice and was limited in both workouts on Thursday. Gaither was carted off the field last Friday with what was described as back “cramps” and missed four straight practices before returning to the field on Monday.

“[Gaither] just can’t get into his stance and really play right now, so we’ve got to work that out somehow,” Harbaugh said.

The other notable absence was running back Willis McGahee, who is dealing with some swelling in his knee. Harbaugh described it as a “precautionary” move to hold McGahee out of practice.

Others absent from practice were offensive tackle Tony Moll (concussion), cornerback K.J Gerard (hamstring), David Hale (undisclosed), and Stefan Rodgers (leg).

Check back right here for updates (time-stamped) throughout the day, and don’t forget to go to the Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh and Derrick Mason as well as quarterback Marc Bulger’s conversation with Thyrl Nelson.


5:45 p.m. — Just a few notes to pass along from the afternoon’s special teams practice.

Defensive back Marcus Paschal limped off the field halfway through the workout, appearing to favor his right leg. He did not return.

Defensive back K.J. Gerard was a non-participant again as he continues to recover from a hamstring issue.

The team primarily worked on the punt units, but we didn’t see the towels, trashcans, and volleyballs as we did on Wednesday. What a shame.

The Ravens will practice at M&T Bank Stadium at noon on Saturday. Admission is free and parking will only be $5. Remember, if you cannot make it down to the Purple Palace, we’ll have the Purple Haze chat open for a special training camp edition, getting underway at 12:00 p.m.

1:48 p.m. — Rookie Ramon Harewood continues to get plenty of reps with the first-team offense with Jared Gaither struggling to stay healthy in the early stages of camp. Drafted in the sixth round, Harewood is considered a likely candidate for the practice squa, but his performance has impressed coaches thus far.

“He’s playing both sides, he’s taking every snap, and he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t make the same mistake twice,” Harbaugh said. “He’s really a smart player for a guy that has very little football experience historically. He has a long way to go, but he’s moving pretty quickly.”

1:45 p.m. — After Billy Cundiff struggled on Thursday, Shayne Graham faced his own difficulties Friday morning, missing kicks from 51 and 48 yards. Graham missed another from 64 yards, but we’ll excuse the veteran for not making what would break an NFL record for longest field goal.

Graham connected from 35 and 44 yards.

Overall, the offense got the best of the defense during 11-on-11 passing drills with Anquan Boldin pulling in a nice catch thrown from Joe Flacco as Fabian Washington attempted to defend.

Troy Smith tossed a touchdown pass to rookie tight end Dennis Pitta who continues to impress along with fellow rookie Ed Dickson at the tight end position.

The defensive highlights included newly-acquired cornerback Doug Dutch nearly picking off Flacco during passing drills.

Defensive back Marcus Paschal made a tremendous breakup on an attempted deep ball from Flacco to Boldin down the middle of the field. Paschal also picked off Flacco on Thursday, as he tries to distinguish himself from a group of young players trying to position themselves for a roster spot in a thin group of cornerbacks.

12:45 p.m. — Despite injuring his finger taking a snap on Thursday morning, backup quarterback Marc Bulger practiced with the last two fingers on his right hand taped. He did not take any snaps under center, but his throws showed good zip throughout the morning session.

“It’s a little sore,” Bulger told after practice. “It was a little scary [Thursday]. I think it will be a day-to-day thing, but fortunately it wasn’t broken.”

Bulger said it’s something that’s happened to him often throughout his career, and it comes with the territory of playing quarterback.