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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Traveling by bus just a few minutes to Stevenson University for the final public practice of the summer, the Ravens saw another significant member of their 2013 roster missing as wide receiver Torrey Smith did not participate.
Coach John Harbaugh said after practice that Smith was simply given a day to rest, but reports indicated the third-year wide receiver had his calf wrapped during Saturday’s practice, which suggested he might be dealing with a minor injury. Running back Anthony Allen joined Smith as a new absence from the practice field on Sunday as he dealt with “a little nick” in Harbaugh’s words.
Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil wasn’t practicing for the second straight day despite coach John Harbaugh once again downplaying the significance of the groin injury the three-time Pro Bowl selection suffered in the second preseason game. His absence means even more reps for second-year linebacker Courtney Upshaw at the strongside outside position.
Other players absent from Sunday’s practice were wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), defensive tackle Marcus Spears (hamstring), tight ends Ed Dickson (hamstring) and Dennis Pitta (hip), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee).
Though Harbaugh said last week that Thompson would have a chance to play in the third preseason game, it now appears the second-year receiver has all but been ruled out as he continues to recover from a sprained foot suffered in the preseason opener against Tampa Bay. The speedy slot receiver has missed valuable practice time in trying to establish himself as a viable option in the passing game.
“Deonte will be further evaluated after this week,” Harbaugh said, “but his was a couple-week injury.”
Approximately 3,100 fans were in attendance for the practice at Mustang Stadium after winning a lottery similar to the one that awarded select fans a rare opportunity to take in training camp practices at the team’s Owings Mills facility this summer.
Yanda, Webb still possible for Thursday
Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda was a full participant in his second straight practice on Sunday as he continues to work his way back to full strength from offseason shoulder surgery and cornerback Lardarius Webb delivered a big hit to wide receiver Aaron Mellette in 11-on-11 team work in what amounted to his most physical play of the summer.
Harbaugh remains undecided whether either veteran will take part in the all-important third preseason game but acknowledged that he’d like to get each at least a few reps against the Carolina Panthers. The Ravens generally don’t play most of their starters in the preseason finale and certainly wouldn’t put Webb or Yanda in harm’s way with most other starters sitting out.
Webb has practiced on a limited basis since the beginning of training camp as he works his way back to full strength following an ACL injury suffered last October.
“We’ll have to make that decision probably the day before the game,” said Harbaugh, who added that there’s a good chance that both Webb and Yanda could play. “He looks pretty good out there right now, so we might leave a little bit of that up to him and the doctors obviously. It would be nice to get him the work before we tee it up for real.”
Coming off two straight Pro Bowl seasons, Yanda acknowledged that he still has plenty of work to do to get himself ready for the start of the regular season on Sept. 5 against the Denver Broncos.
Yanda returned to the practice field last week on a limited basis and has finally taken part in live-contact drills over the last two practices.
“I just need the timing of the game and my footwork and my punch and stuff like that,” Yanda said. “The shoulder’s feeling good. It’s coming along. I’m a little rusty, but it’s going to be. I haven’t had the pads on since February.”
All hands on deck
With Smith absent from Sunday’s practice, the Ravens used a plethora of receivers in his place including rookies Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown, who received extensive action with the first-team offense.
The primary alignment for three-wide sets appeared to be Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, and Brown, but Mellette provided one of the highlights of the evening practice by catching a long touchdown from quarterback Joe Flacco, beating veteran cornerback Chris Johnson. Stokley also provided several good catches while working in the slot position, and it appears he and Flacco are building an improved comfort level with a week of work under their belts.
“What you saw today is [that] we’re going to give those young guys an opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “Some of the young receivers have done an excellent job, and I think we owe it to our team and owe it to them to see what they can do in there with the first group. We’ll practice those guys and probably play them a little more with the ones this week.”
Perhaps the most intriguing formation involved veteran tight end Dallas Clark and fullback Kyle Juszczyk working in a two-tight set as Juszczyk worked from a flexed position in the slot. The Harvard product made a really nice catch on a seam route, beating Christian Thompson and Brynden Trawick in coverage for a 32-yard touchdown.
Though it’s never wise to read too much into any given practice, third-year wide receiver Tandon Doss primarily ran with the second-team offense as the Ravens seized the opportunity to evaluate their rookie wideouts with the starting unit minus Smith.
Rare struggles for Tucker
Second-year kicker Justin Tucker experienced rare struggles during Sunday’s practice as he missed field goals from 46, 57, and 64 yards. He missed the 46-yarder wide to the right, which was an extremely rare miss from that distance this summer.
His 57-yard attempt hit the crossbar while his 64-yarder was well short before rookie cornerback Marc Anthony fielded it in the back of the end zone.
Tucker connected on other kicks from 36, 48, and 51 yards.