With the news coming earlier in the week that inside linebacker Jameel McClain (neck) would be placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp, the Ravens had to be even happier with their free-agent signing of veteran linebacker Daryl Smith in early June.
The former Jacksonville Jaguar worked extensively with the starting defense on Thursday and has earned positive reviews very early in his tenure with Baltimore. With several inexperienced inside linebackers in the mix for starting spots such as second-round pick Arthur Brown and third-year player Josh Bynes, Smith’s nine previous years in the NFL bring plenty of wisdom to the unit.
“That was a big move,” Harbaugh said. “[Linebackers coach] Ted Monachino had a lot to do with that. Ted coached him down in Jacksonville, so he knew him so well, and he’s been better than advertised as a leader and as a football leader one day in.”
After expressing much optimism throughout the offseason that McClain would be ready to play by the start of camp, Harbaugh and the Ravens aren’t exactly painting the brightest picture for the linebacker’s future.
“I really thought he would be there,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just when you look at the MRI and you see what’s on there, there’s no denying the fact that it’s not safe for him at this time, so there’s no way that we are going to put him out there until it clears up.”
Training camp roundup
In addition to McKinnie, McClain and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) were both absent from the first full-squad practice as they remain on the active PUP list along with reserve safety Anthony Levine, who was added to the list on Thursday morning.
Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee) and cornerback Moe Lee (undisclosed) were present but not working during Thursday’s workout.
Jones took part in practice after passing his conditioning test on the second try and offered a diving catch as one of the highlights of the day. He took some reps as the starting receiver opposite Torrey Smith, but the Ravens used several players in that capacity over the course of the practice.
Rookie Rick Wagner received an opportunity to play some left tackle with the starting offensive line after Osemele’s right hamstring began cramping up midway through practice. The second-year lineman was stretched out and iced the back of his leg as he sat out the second half of practice, but the injury is not considered serious.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata received extensive time at the nose tackle position as defensive coordinator Dean Pees used a rotation of players along the line. Ngata was primarily flanked by Arthur Jones and Chris Canty in what appeared to be the starting defensive line at such an early stage in camp.
Overall, the Ravens appeared to defer to their veterans at several position where there’s expected to be stiff competition. James Ihedigbo ran with the first unit at strong safety instead of first-round pick Matt Elam and Albert McClellan ran with the starting defense at inside linebacker instead of second-round choice Arthur Brown.