McKinnie, Ngata practice for first time; Birk sidelined with back spasms

August 03, 2012 | Luke Jones

McKinnie, Ngata practice for first time; Birk sidelined with back spasms

(Updated 7:00 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After passing the conditioning test, offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata took part in their first practice of training camp Friday afternoon.

McKinnie announced on his official Twitter page that he and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had taken and passed the conditioning test Friday morning, meaning each would be eligible to practice.

While Ngata has been sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained while attempting to run the conditioning test when he first reported to Owings Mills last Wednesday, McKinnie’s status had been far cloudier after he failed to report to the team until last Sunday. McKinnie said last weekend he injured his back in a fall at his home, and that caused him to be unable to report on time.

“Haloti Ngata passed this morning, and Bryant McKinnie passed with a diving effort at the end, I might add,” said Harbaugh, who confirmed McKinnie’s lower back injury is no longer a concern. “It’s a tough test. You’ve got to be in shape to pass that test, so congratulations to those guys.”

Ngata had been on the physically unable to perform list while McKinnie was placed on the non-football injury list upon reporting to training camp last week. The two practiced in helmets and shells for two days during the acclimation period required under the collective bargaining agreement, but the two will be in full pads on Monday, according to Harbaugh.

With their respective returns to the field, the Ravens’ offensive and defensive lines can begin taking better shape with the first preseason game less than a week away.

“It means a lot,” Harbaugh said. “It’s another offensive lineman. Of course, Bryant’s a guy who’s played a lot of football for his career but also for us last year. He’s competing right in there with the rest of the guys, and he can be a big part of us and has been. Of course, Haloti Ngata, his presence speaks for itself.”

Left guard Bobbie Williams also returned to practice after presumably receiving a day off on Thursday.

New absences on Friday included fullback Vonta Leach, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and cornerbacks Cary Williams, Asa Jackson, and Jimmy Smith. Smith’s absence isn’t surprising after he left Thursday’s practice with a back injury, but the second-year defensive back isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.

“Jimmy’s back locked up,” Harbaugh said. “It’s all muscular. It’s something that’s happened to him in college before. It takes a couple days, usually, for that to loosen up.”

Leach was dealing with a “tight” back, according to the coach.

Center Matt Birk, linebackers Courtney Upshaw (shoulder) and Josh Bynes, offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf), defensive lineman Arthur Jones, running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring), and wide receivers Tandon Doss (hamstring) and Patrick Williams were again absent from practice.

After saying earlier in the week that Birk was receiving rest, Harbaugh revealed Friday that Birk is also dealing with back spasms. He has missed five straight practices and hasn’t worked since last Saturday. The coach essentially rule Birk out for the preseason opener in Atlanta last week.

“Matt’s resting; he had some back spasms too,” Harbaugh said. “It’s probably both me and Matt [deciding]. Matt’s had the back spasms, and I’m going to probably slow him down a little bit more, especially this week. Maybe next week after the game, we’ll get him back a little bit more.”

Jones is dealing with a hip flexor issue and underwent an MRI, but Harbaugh did not know the results when he met with reporters on Friday evening.

Long-term injury absences included tight end Dennis Pitta (broken hand), wide receiver David Reed (ACL surgery), and linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon surgery).

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