BALTIMORE — A record crowd of 17,861 watched a Ravens training camp practice at M&T Bank Stadium, but they couldn’t have felt any better about the team’s cornerback problems after Saturday afternoon’s workout.
Cornerback Chris Carr, now a starter after the loss of Domonique Foxworth, left practice with an undisclosed injury, which appeared to be a hamstring issue. Carr would not comment on the injury, deferring questions to coach John Harbaugh.
“I’m not sure,” said Harbaugh when asked about the defensive back’s status. “I don’t have a report yet on that. I’m not sure.”
That clears things up.
Fellow starting cornerback Fabian Washington also sat out despite being dressed to practice. Washington has been in and out of practice over the last week as he continues to work his way back from an ACL injury a season ago. With both projected starters—along with Lardarius Webb who is still on the Physically Unable to Perform list—sidelined on Saturday, the Ravens had Travis Fisher and Cary Williams working with the starting defense.
Wide receiver Derrick Mason also left practice with what he described as a bruised knee. The 36-year-old missed two days of practice with a right ankle injury earlier this week before returning on Friday.
“I just banged my knee a little bit,” Mason said. “It wasn’t critical [that] I came back in.”
Mason iced the knee after leaving practice and expects to participate in the Ravens’ next workout on Sunday afternoon.
Gaither absent again
Offensive tackle Jared Gaither failed to practice for the second straight day as he continues to deal with back spams between his shoulder blades. The Ravens sent him to a back specialist, with the initial feedback indicating the injury is not serious. Gaither was limited in practice on Thursday before sitting out the last two days.
The right tackle, who lost approximately 30 pounds before training camp began, is having difficulty lining up in a three-point stance, according to Harbaugh.
“It’s just something he’s got to fight through,” Harbaugh said. “It’s unfortunate because he’s competing for that spot, and you’ve got to stack practices. That’s what the competition is all about.”
Despite Gaither’s tepid relationship with the organization and his desire for a new contract, Harbaugh stood by the tackle’s work ethic and desire.
“[Gaither’s] a hard worker. We just have to get him on the field and get him going and he’s going to be fine. That’s what we’ve got to try to do right now.”
Cundiff was unofficially 7-for-9 on field goals while Graham was a masterful 10-for-10 on Saturday afternoon.
The battle has been extremely even to this point in camp, with both performing consistently unlike the up-and-down battle between Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano last summer.
“We know it’s going to be a tough decision,” Harbaugh said. “We just kind of put it on the back burner. We don’t have to make that decision yet, so we don’t want to. You see them everyday, they’re both kicking very well.”
Harbaugh expects teams to contact the Ravens later in the preseason in hopes of acquiring one of the two. The coach believes the decision will be a difficult one.
“My gut feeling is [the choice is] going to be a gut feeling.”
In addition to Carr, Mason, Washington, and Gaither, others not participating in the Saturday afternoon workout were guard David Hale (undisclosed), tackles Tony Moll (concussion) and Stefan Rodgers (ankle), defensive backs Marcus Paschal (leg) and K.J. Gerard (hamstring), and tight end Davon Drew (hamstring).
Running back Willis McGahee returned to practice after sitting out with swelling in his right knee on Friday.
Ayanbadejo told WNST.net there is still no timetable for his return from a torn quadriceps injury sustained last season.
Changes at M&T Bank
While rookies benefited most from the special practice at M&T Bank Stadium, young players and veterans alike had to get used to some changes at their home stadium.
This was the first time the Ravens have played on the new field turf installed in the spring. Initial feedback from players was positive, as veterans cited how much softer it was than the turf that had been used since 2003. Several players commented on how hot the turf felt to their feet, but a warm August day certainly contributed to that.
“When I first got on it, I wondered if it was going to be supportive enough, but it felt pretty good,” quarterback Joe Flacco said about the new playing surface. “Your feet were a little bit hotter than they are out in Westminster, but it was good. I enjoyed it.”
The fans in attendance also enjoyed the brand new high-definition video boards displaying a far crisper picture than the original screens.
“They were sweet,” Harbaugh said. “They looked very good. I caught myself looking up there every now and then.”
A New Tradition
The record crowd attending practice left a lasting impression on owner Steve Bisciotti and Harbaugh as both were pleased with the turnout and believe it will become an annual event in August.
“[Bisciotti] came out on the field there when we were doing one of our drills and he basically said, ‘This is a tradition now. We’re doing it because it was so good,'” Harbaugh said. “You felt it out there. It’s great for our team to get out there on the field, but it’s so good for the fans.”