OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens held their first workout since their second preseason contest on Friday, defensive end Pernell McPhee headlined a dwindling list of non-participants.
Though McPhee has received an occasional day off at a couple different points since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent in the spring, the defensive end’s absence wasn’t injury-related as he was excused to deal with a death in the family. He played in Friday’s game against the Detroit Lions, registering two solo tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hit.
“He had a personal issue, a tough situation,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I’ll let him explain it when he gets back, but he suffered a loss in his family, so he has been excused to go take care of that right now.”
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was also absent from Sunday’s practice due to the death of his mother, according to the team.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith returned to practice after sitting out Friday’s game and missing two practices last week while dealing with a sprained ankle suffered in the season opener. Wide receiver Devin Goda and linebacker Darryl Blackstock (groin) also returned to practice on Sunday.
Smith expects to play in the Ravens’ third preseason game — a sentiment echoed by Harbaugh Sunday — as they’ll host the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. The second-year wide receiver described not playing last Friday as “agonizing” and felt he could have played against Detroit.
“Coach was kind of being cautious with it, so I can get it out of the way now rather than just having it lingering on,” Smith said. “I felt way better today and obviously, I still have to practice until I get better, but I’m fine.”
Offensive lineman Jah Reid was present but not dressed in pads to practice after suffering a setback with the calf injury that’s hampered him since mandatory minicamp. Others not practicing included linebackers Josh Bynes (back) and Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), tight ends Ed Dickson (shoulder) and Dennis Pitta (hand), defensive lineman Ryan McBean (fractured ankle), and wide receiver David Reed (knee).
After sustaining a shoulder stinger on Friday night, linebacker Sergio Kindle was practicing but sported red mesh over his jersey, indicating no contact. Safety Sean Considine also wore red mesh, but it remains unclear whether he suffered an injury in the game. Wide receiver LaQuan Williams (ankle sprain), fullback Vonta Leach (ankle sprain), and linebacker Ricky Brown (hip contusion) all practiced despite suffering reported injuries after the second preseason game.
Caldwell welcome addition with emphasis on no-huddle attack
Harbaugh praised the influence of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell when it comes to the Ravens’ increased focus on the no-huddle offense. Of course, Caldwell spent a decade working with quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis as the Colts ran a similar attack almost exclusively.
While the Ravens operated without a huddle at different times over the last four seasons under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, they have run it extensively in the first two preseason games.
“We’ve had that in our system before so it’s based and formatted on what we’ve always had, but Jim’s brought some nuances,” Harbaugh said. “He’s brought a tempo or two we didn’t’ have before, just some methodology, I think, to it that he’s really added. Plus, the experience just in terms of dealing with Joe and talking to Joe and how they’ve done it in the past has been really helpful.”
It remains to be seen just how much the Ravens will use the no-huddle offense, but all signs point to it being a major point of emphasis as they begin the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.
Harbaugh described it as “very much quarterback driven” with Flacco having the ability to go to the line of scrimmage with several play options for which he will decide what the offense will do.
“As you watch the transformation, it’s going to be fun to see how we do,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be challenging. We go against good defenses. It’s not going to be easy, obviously, it never is. We will have our ups and downs, but I really think our coaches, starting with Cam and then Jim and all of our guys, have done a great job of setting up the structure of this offense, and I’m as excited as anyone to see how it plays out.”
It was a rare practice in which Billy Cundiff outdid Justin Tucker as the two kickers squared off once again on Sunday. Cundiff was a perfect 4-for-4 as he connected from 30, 36, 39, and 44 yards. In contrast, Tucker turned in a solid performance by going 4-for-5, but his miss went wide left from 44 yards.
Unlike the veteran, Tucker was given an attempt from 53 yards, and the rookie converted.
Right guard Marshal Yanda appeared to receive a breather on Sunday as he didn’t take part in any reps after the early portion of practice. The Ravens’ starting offense mostly went with Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Michael Oher at right tackle while using Kelechi Osemele at left guard. Veteran guard Bobbie Williams, who has been dealing with soreness in his surgically-repaired right ankle primarily worked at right guard with the first and second units.
Linebacker Courtney Upshaw received more reps with the starting defense on Sunday as he split time at rush linebacker with Albert McClellan, who started in Friday’s game against Detroit.
Ravens hold final off-site practice
Conducting their final off-site practice of the summer, the Ravens traveled to Stevenson University as approximately 2,800 fans attended the ticketed event. The team also held public practices at M&T Bank Stadium and the Naval Academy in their first official camp after announcing they would no longer hold training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster.
Mustang Stadium is on the site of the Ravens’ old training facility used from 1996 through the early fall of 2004 before the team moved to its currently facility. Harbaugh even offered a plug that certainly had to please the admissions office at the Owings Mills university.
“Stevenson has been fantastic; just great people here [and a] really tremendous facility,” Harbaugh said. “This stadium is really, really special. I know the indoor [facility] they have over here is really neat. They have done a great job with their athletic facilities. This would be a great place to go to school.”