Ravens defense squawks, gets upper hand in Sunday’s practice

August 14, 2011 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens practice began later than usual, but there was no sign of it hurting the defense on Sunday evening.

Starting practice at 4:45 p.m. instead of the usual 1:30 p.m. start to give players some extra rest, the starting defense was flying around throughout the session and clearly got the best of the offense.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs was chirping the loudest, several times questioning the calls of Cam Cameron during 11-on-11 team periods. Of course, it’s important to remember it was practice and not an actual game before anyone makes too much of Suggs’ playful jabbing.

On one third-and-long situation inside the red zone, Cameron called for a run play, and the defense sniffed it out well short of the first-down marker. Suggs quipped that the Ravens better have a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter if they’re going to call that play. It’s hard to disagree with him, either.

“I think it was positive, it was competitive, and challenging one another,” Harbaugh said. “We’re a team, but kind of in practice, we’re kind of not. We kind of get after each other a little bit. I thought the defense, at times, had the better of it, and at times, the offense had the better of it, too. It was great competition.”

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Two plays following Suggs’ critique of Cameron and the offense, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo picked off quarterback Joe Flacco in the end zone on a pass intended for tight end Dennis Pitta, sparking loud celebration from the defense.

Another defensive highlight was Lardarius Webb’s interception of backup Tyrod Taylor on a pass intended for rookie LaQuan Williams. As Webb returned it down the left sideline, receiver Justin Harper was screaming for Webb to lateral the ball in an obvious reference to the defense’s tendency to pitch the ball recklessly in game situations. Fortunately, Webb ignored the receiver’s attempt to get the ball back before the whistle blew the play dead.

Later in the red zone period, Flacco found a wide-open Ray Rice streaking out of the backfield for a touchdown as the offense celebrated emphatically. Suggs fired back that it was their first score in 35 tries — an unofficial number, mind you.

Perhaps the most impressive play by Flacco came against the second defense showing heavy blitz. The fourth-year quarterback responded by checking out of the original play and hitting his hot read on a quick slant to Torrey Smith. The sequence sparked Harbaugh to walk over to Flacco to emphatically shake his hand.

Injury updates

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody returned to practice on Sunday after missing Saturday’s with a minor ankle injury. He worked without any limitations, according to Harbaugh.

“He was fine. He did a good job. He seemed OK.”

Right guard Marshal Yanda missed his second straight practice as he continues to deal with back spasms. Oniel Cousins primarily worked at right guard, and rookie Justin Boren received a few reps at the spot as well.

“I think he is really powerful,” said Harbaugh about his impressions of Cousins working at guard the last two days. “He is a powerful guy in there. He is really explosive. He has long arms. he passed off all the twists in the games really well. We’ll just have to see how it works out and maybe take a look at him in the game.”

Ed Dickson had an increased workload on Sunday but is still sharing first-team reps with fellow second-year tight end Dennis Pitta.

With Ed Reed taking the day off on Sunday, safety Bernard Pollard worked in his starting position while Tom Zbikowski continued to work as the strong safety.

Fullback Ryan Mahaffey left the field during the middle portion of practice but later returned to join his teammates on the sideline.

Here more from Harbaugh in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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