The Ravens continued to be without rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw Thursday as the top draft pick recovers from a shoulder injury.
The 35th overall pick has missed four straight practices after sustaining a shoulder injury in Saturday’s workout. Upshaw appeared to suffer a stinger in a collision with rookie running back Bernard Pierece, but the 272-pound linebacker finished practice.
Though the Ravens want to see Upshaw return to action as he’s expected to be the starting strongside linebacker, they aren’t concerned as long as the 22-year-old is ready to play in preseason games, starting with the opener in Atlanta next Thursday.
“I’ll start getting worried if it’s halfway through the preseason,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “What we just need to do is get him out there, especially in some preseason games, and have him hit, get hit, and actually play. It’s one thing to go out and practice. There’s different situations here in practice that are just not the same as game-type tempo and game-type situations, and that’s why we need to get him out there. I’m not too concerned, yet, until if we get down the road and he’s not playing any games. Then I will be concerned.”
In Upshaw’s absence, Albert McClellan and Sergio Kindle have received more reps with the starting defense, and coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week that McClellan is competing for the starting job. Upshaw has an impressive pedigree after playing in the vaunted Alabama defense, but he failed his first attempt at the team’s conditioning test at the start of training camp and the team would like to see him slim down a bit as he’ll be expected to drop into pass coverage more than he did in college.
While the Ravens labeled it a shoulder bruise, it’s appearing more likely the injury is more severe than that. Upshaw has walked out to the practice field during the latter portion of a few practices this week after receiving treatment on the shoulder.
“Courtney Upshaw got a bruise on his shoulder, so he is out for now,” Harbaugh said Monday afternoon after Upshaw missed his first practice. “It’s a bruise, and he’ll just take the time that it takes to get healed up. Jimmy Smith bruised his shoulder [Saturday], too, and he was able to get back [Monday]. So, it kind of gives you an indication.”
Unlike Smith, however, Upshaw’s recovery time has taken much longer.