Tag Archive | "Davon Drew"

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Clarifying the Physically Unable to Perform List

Posted on 27 July 2010 by Luke Jones

With so much discussion over the PUP (physically unable to perform) list over the last couple weeks regarding Ed Reed and today’s announcement that 10 players—including second-round pick Terrence Cody—have been placed on PUP, it’s easy to get confused with the meaning of the designatioin.

In Reed’s case, the discussion in recent weeks is in regards to the reserve PUP list, which states:

This list designates players with serious injuries that will keep them from being able to start a season on the 53-man roster but may be able to return to the roster during the regular season. The players must be placed on this roster at or before the league-wide 65-man summer roster cutdown to be eligible for this designation, and they must stay on this list for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. After this time, teams have three weeks to evaluate such players, after which each such player must be placed on the 53-man roster, injured reserve, or waivers.

This morning’s designation (Reed, Cody, Fabian Washington, Lardarius Webb, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Oniel Cousins, Walt Harris, Matt Lawrence, Prince Miller, and Rodelin Anthony) was for the active PUP list, which is the first step taken to place a player on the aforementioned reserve list. It states:

Once they are designated as physically unable to perform, they are prohibited from practicing with the team. They can, however, rehabilitate individually and participate in team meetings. If a player begins training camp on the PUP list, they can be moved to the active roster at any time, even after one practice. A player is not allowed to be placed on the PUP list if they start training camp on the active roster.

The active PUP list still counts against the 80-man training camp roster, so there is no added roster flexibility but players are allowed to come off the list at any time. However, if Reed or any of the other nine players participates in a practice and would suffer a new injury or re-injure a preexisting condition, they would no longer be eligible for the PUP list in either capacity.

To put it simply, the active PUP is the necessary procedure for potentially placing any player on the reserve PUP in which he’d miss the start of the regular season. With most players, this doesn’t happen and they’re able to return to the practice field at some point during training camp.

For some perspective, the players who started on the active PUP list at the start of training camp last season were Willis McGahee, Lamar Divens, Davon Drew, Yamon Figurs, Ben Grubbs, Adam Terry, Jason Phillips, Samari Rolle, Lou Saucedo, Marshal Yanda, Kelley Washington, and Joe Reitz.

McGahee, Grubbs, Yanda, and Washington all went on to make key contributions for the 2009 Ravens.

While it certainly won’t make anyone happy seeing these 10 names on the list, it’s not always the major concern some perceive it to be.

Unless you’re talking about an All-Pro safety.

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Getting down to 53: The final days of training camp

Posted on 18 August 2009 by Luke Jones

We’re in the final week of training camp in Westminster, but the Ravens do not need to make any cuts until Sept. 1, when they must trim the roster to 75 players.  The team must then narrow down to the regular season number of 53 by Sept. 5.

For those begging for help at the wide receiver position, the late cut dates mean any veteran receiver that could possibly shake free and help the cause in Baltimore probably won’t be available until right before the regular season.

I’ve listed the number of players I predict the Ravens to keep at each position in parentheses. This list does not include the practice squad of eight players the Ravens will keep in addition to the 53-man roster.

LOCK: Joe Flacco, Troy Smith, John Beck
LONG SHOT: Cleo Lemon, Drew Willy
Skinny: It’s been an interesting week regarding quarterbacks, but Cam Cameron made it clear the Ravens are still committed to Beck as the No. 3 guy.  Smith’s play in the preseason has further cemented his status as the backup to Flacco.

LOCK: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain
BUBBLE: Jalen Parmele, Matt Lawrence, Cedric Peerman
LONGSHOT: Jason Cook
Skinny: Parmele is a favorite of Cameron, and Lawrence impressed during the preseason opener last week.  Peerman appears to currently trail these two on the depth chart.  Despite being the only other fullback behind McClain on the roster, Cook appears to be a candidate for the practice squad at this point.

LOCK: Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Kelley Washington
BUBBLE: Justin Harper, Yamon Figurs, Jayson Foster
LONG SHOT: Biren Ealy, Bradon Godfrey, Eron Riley, Ernie Wheelwright
Skinny: Losing Marcus Smith for the season is a major blow to the special teams units, an area in which the second-year receiver thrived.  Williams’ inability to remain healthy continues to frustrate the staff.  Harper has a ton of potential but is very inconsistent.  Foster has put his name into consideration with a good performance against the Redskins and an ability to make plays during practice.

LOCK: Todd Heap, L.J. Smith
BUBBLE: Edgar Jones, Davon Drew
LONG SHOT: Isaac Smolko
Skinny: Drew continues to be very quiet on the practice field.  Jones is a good special teams player and has played some H-back during camp.  His ability to play linebacker if needed makes him a valuable commodity on the 53-man roster.

LOCK: Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Chris Chester, Michael Oher, Marshal Yanda, Oniel Cousins
BUBBLE: David Hale, Tre Stallings, Joe Reitz
LONG SHOT: Robby Felix, Stefan Rodgers, Bryan Mattison
Skinny: The team should definitely look to add a veteran tackle, because Cousins is too inconsistent as the third tackle, but he’s improved from last season. Hale’s ability to play both guard and center will likely land him on the roster.

LOCK: Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce, Justin Bannan
BUBBLE: Dwan Edwards, Brandon McKinney, Kelly Talavou
LONG SHOT: Will Johnson, Nader Abdallah
Skinny: Edwards and McKinney are the favorites to land the final two defensive line spots on the roster.

LOCK: Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Tavares Gooden, Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain, Paul Kruger, Brendon Ayanbadejo
BUBBLE: Jason Phillips, Dannell Ellerbe, Prescott Burgess
LONG SHOT: Tony Fein, Will VanDeSteeg
Skinny: Ellerbe’s knee sprain was a disappointment considering how much he’s impressed over the last two weeks.  Burgess has been around for a couple years, but will it be enough?

LOCK: Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Samari Rolle, Frank Walker
BUBBLE: K.J. Gerard, Evan Oglesby, Derrick Martin
Skinny: Rolle’s health continues to be a concern.  Walker is probably safe because his physical style is much different than the other pure cover guys in the secondary.  Considering how many talented, young linebackers are currently on the roster, I predict the Ravens will go with 10 backers and only six corners.  If they go with seven corners, Gerard, Oglesby, and Martin are all in the mix.  Martin has seen reps at both safety and corner this summer.

LOCK: Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Haruki Nakamura, Tom Zbikowski
Skinny: No drama at this position.  These four are locks.

LOCK: None
BUBBLE: Graham Gano, Steve Hauschka
Skinny: It’s been a very close race so far, with Hauschka possibly holding the slightest of edges.  There are still three preseason games to clarify the picture.

LOCK: Sam Koch
Skinny: Koch practiced some field goals this week to be prepared in an emergency situation.

LOCK: Matt Katula
Skinny: Ngata is the backup field goal snapper, and McGahee is the No. 2 long snapper for punts.  Let’s hope neither has to be called into action.

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Getting down to 53: An early projection

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Luke Jones

We’re a week and a half into training camp, so I thought I would give my VERY early look at the 53-man roster.  Keep in mind, injuries are bound to occur and will change the makeup of the roster considerably.

The first preseason game will take place against the Washington Redskins next Thursday night, but here’s my roster projections based on my early observations in Westminster.

I’ve listed the number of players I predict the Ravens to keep at each position in parentheses. This list does not include the practice squad of eight players the Ravens could keep in addition to the 53-man roster.

And, remember, I’m not John Harbaugh, nor will I ever claim to be.

LOCK: Joe Flacco, Troy Smith, John Beck
Skinny: Though Smith and Beck will continue to battle for the No. 2 job, there are no other quarterbacks currently in camp to even compete.

LOCK: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain
BUBBLE: Cedric Peerman, Jason Cook
LONGSHOT: Jalen Parmele, Matt Lawrence
Skinny: It will most likely come down to special teams in determining whether Peerman and Cook find their way on the roster. Cook would give the Ravens a backup fullback, but Cam Cameron could elect to use the tight end as a fullback in certain packages. The team could obviously choose to keep both, but we’ll see how it plays out in the preseason.

LOCK: Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith
BUBBLE: Kelley Washington, Justin Harper, Yamon Figurs
LONG SHOT: Biren Ealy, Thomas White, Eron Riley, Ernie Wheelwright, Jayson Foster
Skinny: The team still could elect to sign another veteran receiver, especially with Mark Clayton out with a hamstring injury. Washington probably makes the team since he’s a strong special teams player, and Harper has been very impressive in the early stages of camp. Considering Figurs is no longer a lock to return kicks, his roster spot is in serious jeopardy. Riley could be a candidate for the practice squad.

LOCK: Todd Heap, L.J. Smith
BUBBLE: Edgar Jones, Davon Drew
LONG SHOT: Isaac Smolko
Skinny: The fifth-round pick Drew has been a disappointment so far after failing the initial running test at the beginning of camp and then injuring his ankle. Drew has returned to practice, but he’s currently behind Jones on the depth chart.

LOCK: Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Chris Chester, Michael Oher, Marshal Yanda, Oniel Cousins
BUBBLE: David Hale, Tre Stallings
LONG SHOT: Robby Felix, Stefan Rodgers, Bryan Mattison, Joe Reitz
Skinny: The Ravens will likely bring in a veteran tackle to replace Adam Terry who will miss the season with a knee injury. Hale has backed up Birk at center during camp, but Chester has the ability to play center in the event of an injury.

LOCK: Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce, Justin Bannan
BUBBLE: Dwan Edwards, Brandon McKinney, Kelly Talavou, Lamar Divens
LONG SHOT: Will Johnson
Skinny: This unit is very deep, and the Ravens will inevitably have to part ways with a very talented player.

LOCK: Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Tavares Gooden, Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain, Paul Kruger, Brendon Ayanbadejo
BUBBLE: Jason Phillips, Dannell Ellerbe, Will VanDeSteeg, Prescott Burgess
LONG SHOT: Tony Fein
Skinny: This is another deep unit. I could envision the Ravens finding a mysterious “injury” with one or two of these young guys and stashing them on injured reserve.

LOCK: Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Samari Rolle
BUBBLE: Frank Walker, K.J. Gerard, Evan Oglesby
Skinny: Are you noticing a theme here at the defensive positions? Once again, the Ravens will have to part ways with some talented corners, but the numbers won’t allow them to keep everyone.

LOCK: Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Haruki Nakamura, Tom Zbikowski
BUBBLE: Derrick Martin
Skinny: Martin is giving himself a chance to make the roster by shifting over to work at safety, so the team could conceivably carry him on the roster if he proves effective at his new position. Otherwise, he’s squarely on the bubble at the cornerback position, too.

LOCK: None
BUBBLE: Graham Gano, Steve Hauschka
Skinny: This battle will last through the entire preseason. Numerous Ravens officials have told me the four preseason games will carry the most weight. Both kickers have hit 50+ yard field goals during camp, but Westminster is a far cry from a Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium or Heinz Field.

LOCK: Sam Koch
Skinny: Koch is one of the better punters in the league, and his ability to place the ball inside the 20-yard line is a major asset. He also runs a mean fake punt play. Just ask the Cowboys.

LOCK: Matt Katula
Skinny: Katula is one of the most anonymous players on the team, because he does a great job. The Ravens hope it stays that way.

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Live from Westminster: Fabian Washington sits out, ‘Over 30 Club’ gets morning off

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Luke Jones

7:23 p.m. — The Ravens have signed a defensive tackle to the 80-man roster.  Nader Abdallah was out on the field during the afternoon special teams practice, wearing No. 61.

Abdallah is a rookie out of Ohio State and is 6-4 and 292 pounds.

5:09 p.m. — Another player slowed by injury is special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo.  The linebacker has battled a toe injury but is now walking around without a protective boot.  He has not tested the toe in cleats, so it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll return to the field.

Ayanbadejo said the toe is very sensitive, and he will take it slow in getting back.

5:05 p.m. — The Ravens will hold practices at 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.  Both workouts will include the full squad and are open to the public at McDaniel College.

5:03 p.m. — Harbaugh will not be present for Friday afternoon’s practice as he attends the memorial service for former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. The two men coached for a decade together in Philadelphia, and Harbaugh has referred to Johnson as a “football dad” to him.

Special teams coach Jerry Rosburg will run practice in Harbaugh’s place.

3:42 p.m. — Punter Sam Koch had quite a few reps this afternoon, and he was absolutely crushing the ball.  He continues to use the rugby-style kick to place the ball inside the 20-yard line.  On the last play of the practice, Koch put one inside the 5, but Derrick Martin could not catch the ball cleanly in the air, and it rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

3:27 p.m. — While special teams practices lack the excitement of the full-squad workouts, you will get to see some unique drills from time to time.

The Ravens practiced blocking field goals today by using volleyballs.  The rusher would come around the end with a coach throwing a volleyball from seven yards behind the line of scrimmage–the distance at which the holder will place the ball on a field goal try.  The object for each player was to either catch the volleyball or block it like a football.

Another interesting drill related to blocking kicks involved the use of towels.  The speed rusher coming around the edge on a kicking situation always wants to accelerate in a low position.  To practice this, special teams coach Jerry Rosburg has his players grab a towel on the ground as they accelerate around the edge.

3:23 p.m. — The afternoon practice lasted about an hour with the team working on a variety of drills.

The most compelling part of practice was the fun debate between members of the media, Ray Lewis, and Todd Heap over which sport has the best athletes.

Heap and Lewis logically argued for football, but they also gave credit to basketball, boxing, and hockey.  It was fun hearing the two players’ thoughts on sports other than football.

1:32 p.m. — Lardarius Webb continues to impress the coaching staff with his athleticism and coverage ability in the secondary.  The third-round selection picked off two passes this morning, one from Troy Smith and the other from John Beck.

When also considering his potential in the return game, expect Webb to be a significant factor for the Ravens in 2009.

12:50 p.m. — Rookie Paul Kruger continues to impress as he fills in for Terrell Suggs (heel) with the starting defense.  He’ll undoubtedly struggle when matched up with bigger offensive linemen, but he shows great speed off the edge.  I anticipate Kruger being a major part of the pass rush on third-down situations this season.

12:48 p.m. — Defensive back Evan Oglesby missed the morning practice after sustaining a concussion yesterday.  Oglesby is trying to win a job in a very crowded secondary.

12:45 p.m. — With Graham Gano getting the morning off from kicking, it was Steve Hauschka’s turn to shine, and he did not disappoint.  Hauschka was perfect on his attempts, including two 50-yard attempts.  The highlight of the morning was his 55-yard field goal that easily would have been good from 60+ yards.

For all of the talk about Gano’s strong kicking leg, Hauschka made a pretty strong claim today.

12:43 p.m. — Tackle Oniel Cousins and tight end Davon Drew returned to practice today.  With Adam Terry scheduled to undergo knee surgery and miss the entire season, Cousins now becomes the top reserve tackle behind Jared Gaither and Michael Oher.

12:27 p.m. — One of the best signs from the morning practice was seeing Samari Rolle working out individually during practice.  The veteran cornerback is still on the physically unable to perform list, but John Harbaugh said he could be returning in the near future.

Rolle has groin and shoulder issues dating back to last season and has been seen on the field with electronic stimulation mechanisms on his shoulder.  Today was the first time I recall him doing any real physical activity on the field.

With a healthy Rolle, this Ravens’ secondary might be as deep as it’s ever been.

12:07 p.m. — This morning’s practice lacked the intensity of yesterday’s extensive live hitting, but there were several nice plays during 11-on-11 thud action.  Joe Flacco threw a beautiful corner route to Todd Heap, hitting the tight end right over the shoulder for a touchdown.  It was definitely one of the prettier plays of camp.

Flacco also threw a nice slant to Demetrius Williams earlier in the session.

Backup quarterback Troy Smith threw an interception to safety Derrick Martin and had a difficult morning.  Smith just seemed out of sync but did have a nice sideline completion to Williams.

Not to be outdone, John Beck threw a long completion to receiver Justin Harper, as the young receiver continues to make plays in the deep passing game.

11:57 a.m. — Another morning practice is complete, and the most unexpected absence was cornerback Fabian Washington.  The starting corner has a sore knee and sat out this morning.  The injury is not expected to be serious.

The Ravens’ “Over 30 Club” sat out this morning, which includes Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Derrick Mason, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg and Matt Birk.  The veteran Birk got his morning lift out of the way early, so he could join his fellow offensive linemates on the field.  Justin Bannan is technically part of the club, but his off-day is staggered due to the team needing him on the defensive line.  He will presumably get tomorrow morning’s practice off.

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Live from Westminster: Adam Terry done for the season

Posted on 04 August 2009 by Luke Jones

5:09 p.m. — Here’s a question for you: what would the Ravens do if long snapper Matt Katula went down in the middle of a game?

We saw our answer after practice this afternoon.  Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata practiced field goal snaps while running back Willis McGahee was long snapping for punting situations.  Both players looked capable, but let’s hope neither has to be called into duty.

While the average fan has no idea who Katula is, he has certainly been an excellent long snapper since joining the Ravens in 2005.

5:00 p.m. — Another rookie to keep an eye on is defensive end Will VanDeSteeg.  At 6-4 and 256 pounds, VanDeSteeg has good size and has received a few reps with the starting defense since Terrell Suggs is currently out with a strained heel.  Paul Kruger has been taking Suggs’ place in the starting lineup.

He’s just another example of the fine work Eric DeCosta and the scouting staff do every season.  While there’s no guarantee that guys like VanDeSteeg or Dannell Ellerbe will make the team, they are more than capable of coming in and competing—exactly what you want during training camp.

4:55 p.m. — With Oniel Cousins sitting out and Adam Terry now done for the season, the Ravens had Marshal Yanda getting some work at right tackle with the second offense.  Yanda continues to impress in his recovery from three torn knee ligaments, but Chris Chester continues to receive most reps at right guard for the starting offense.

The coaching staff wants to bring Yanda along slowly, a smart decision considering how serious the injury was.

4:51 p.m. — Some of the highlights of the afternoon practice included a Domonique Foxworth interception on a flea flicker attempt from John Beck.  Beck did bounce back, however, when he rolled out to the left and completed a nice sideline pass to Ernie Wheelwright.

Joe Flacco was picked off by Lardarius Webb in the end zone, but the starting quarterback rebounded a few plays later to hit Demetrius Williams for a touchdown with Webb covering on the play.

Rookie fullback Jason Cook had a nice catch out of the backfield with fellow rookie Paul Kruger covering on the play.  Cook has a decent chance of making the team if he can show an ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

4:44 p.m. — The afternoon practice lasted a little over an hour, as the players worked out in helmets, shells, and shorts.  The team spent most of practice running 11-on-11 situations with no contact.

Tackle Oniel Cousins did not practice but was out on the field unlike this morning.  Cornerback Evan Oglesby also did not practice this afternoon.  There were no other real status changes from the players that missed the morning practice.  Tom Zbikowski was dressed to practice but was not very active during the workout.

1:45 p.m. — The NFL Network is currently replaying the “Music City Miracle” game between the Tennessee Titans and the Buffalo Bills, and it’s on in the hotel lobby.  Derrick Mason and Samari Rolle—members of the 1999 Titans—have both spent a few moments watching the game in the lobby.

You have to think both of them thought of their late teammate Steve McNair while catching a few moments of the classic playoff game.

1:41 p.m. — Some fans standing on the far upper field away from the bleachers got an up close and personal look at Derrick Mason.  When Flacco threw a fade to Mason in the back corner of the end zone, the receiver’s momentum carried him all the way into the crowd of people standing just beyond the yellow rope, causing a momentary scare.  Mason would prove to be fine on the play, but it was a close encounter for the fans nearby.

1:35 p.m. — Mark Clayton talked to reporters today and suggested his hamstring injury might take a little longer to heal than previously thought.  The Ravens’ No. 2 receiver said it could be another week or two until he’s back on the field.  With Clayton’s history of hamstring issues throughout his pro career, it would make sense for the Ravens to be extra cautious in the second week of training camp.

Suggs is still walking around the team hotel with a boot on his left foot, but the Ravens continue to show little concern.  After all, we’re talking about a guy who has never missed a game and earned two sacks with a badly-injured shoulder against the Steelers in the AFC Championship last season.  Also, keep in mind that Suggs earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season after missing all of training camp due to being designated the team’s franchise player.  He’s going to be fine.

12:24 p.m. — Left guard Ben Grubbs practiced this morning, but he continues to battle the same ankle injury that landed him on the PUP list at the start of training camp.  After coming out to practice, he was later seen talking to trainer Bill Tessendorf and then went back inside to the training room.  Grubbs later returned to practice.  In his absence, the Ravens shifted Chris Chester to left guard with Marshal Yanda playing right guard.

Tight end Edgar Jones was also shaken up early in practice but later returned to the field.

12:22 p.m. — New defensive back Chris Carr has a physical nature to his game despite his small stature (5-10, 180 pounds).  However, Carr tends to be overaggressive at times in the early stages of camp.  He was called for pass interference this morning and has been flagged several times in the first week.  While it’s certainly a plus to have a defensive back willing to get physical, but it has to come within the framework of the rules.

12:06 p.m. — Graham Gano and Steve Hauschka both looked good, though Hauschka missed a 49-yard attempt.  Hauschka was given the morning off yesterday.

Once again, this battle will come down to how each performs in the four preseason games.  Jerry Rosburg likes both kickers and thinks either one is capable of winning the job previously held by Matt Stover for the last 13 years.

11:54 a.m. — The Ravens spent a substantial amount of time working on their red zone packages this morning, with the first-team offense typically going against the second-team defense and the first-team D matching up against the second-team offense.

Joe Flacco hit Demetrius Williams on a slant for a touchdown, but the highlight of the session came from receiver Kelley Washington.  Matching up against Domonique Foxworth, Washington caught a fade route in the corner of the end zone from backup quarterback Troy Smith.  After bringing down the football, Washington broke into the Ray Lewis dance in celebration.  The move brought loud cheers from the Westminster crowd.

Willis McGahee and Ray Rice both looked strong running the ball with McGahee picking up 14 yards on a play off left tackle and Rice scoring from the 5-yard-line in a rep against the starting defense.  Rice appears to be the No. 1 back in most instances, but McGahee continues to get plenty of reps with the starting offense.

11:42 a.m. — Terrell Suggs (heel) and Mark Clayton (hamstring) once again missed practice, as both players are considered to be day-to-day with their respective injuries.  Antwan Barnes did not practice, so we have to wonder if he’s still feeling the effects of a mild concussion on Sunday morning, though he did practice on Monday.

Tom Zbikowski came up lame early on in practice and limped off with an apparent leg injury.  He spent most of the morning practice resting on a cart on the sideline.

L.J. Smith (hamstring) and Yamon Figurs (foot) returned to practice this morning.  Smith had missed action since tweaking his hamstring early last week, and Figurs was on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp.

Oniel Cousins was abent from practice this morning, but no reason was given.  I haven’t heard anything in terms of an injury dating back to yesterday, so it could just be a day off.

Others not practicing included Brendon Ayanbadejo (toe), Will Johnson, Davon Drew (ankle), and Lamar Divens.

11:28 a.m. — Coach John Harbaugh informed the media that Adam Terry would undergo another knee surgery and will miss the 2009 season.  Terry had previously been on the physically unable to perform list recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery surgery earlier this offseason.

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Live from Westminster: Suggs, Clayton do not practice

Posted on 03 August 2009 by Luke Jones

4:51 p.m. — One player I haven’t discussed too much is tight end Todd Heap.  The veteran has looked good out there with no lingering effects from the back injury apparent.  He looks quick getting in and out of his cuts and is hoping to once again become a major factor in the passing game.

“Todd has done a really good job in the offseason getting himself ready,” coach John Harbaugh said.  “He looks like he’s getting himself ready to have a really good season.  He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s got a lot of work to do betwen now and then, but he’s done well.”

4:45 p.m. — Dannell Ellerbe is a player to keep an eye on if you’re going to make your way out to Westminster.  An undrafted rookie inside linebacker out of Georgia, Ellerbe was considered a mid-round draft prospect before battling knee issues in 2008.  Ellerbe was 2nd team All-SEC in 2007.

He has been so impressive that he received a few reps with some of the defensive starters at the end of practice this morning.  While he clearly won’t challenge Ray Lewis or Tavares Gooden for a starting spot, he could be making a strong case for the 53-man roster, especially if he can perform well on special teams.

4:02 p.m. — One offensive lineman looking strong during camp is Oniel Cousins.  After largely being considered a disappointment last year, the 2008 third-round pick has impressed.  However, his kryptonite on the defense is linebacker Antwan Barnes.  Whenever the two face off, whether in individual drills or live 11-on-11 situations, Barnes seemingly gets the best of Cousins every time.

With Terry still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and on the PUP list, Cousins is making a charge for that third tackle spot behind Michael Oher and Jared Gaither.

3:56 p.m. — Just to recap the Ravens’ injury situations, the big names missing from this morning were Terrell Suggs (left heel) and Mark Clayton (left hamstring), both considered day-to-day.

Lamar Divens, Davon Drew (right ankle), L.J. Smith (hamstring), and Brendon Ayanbadejo (toe) were other significant players not practicing today.

Samari Rolle (groin/shoulder), Adam Terry (knee), and Yamon Figurs (foot) are still listed on the physical unable to perform list.

3:47 p.m. — The kick returner competition will also be another interesting battle to follow.  Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb appear to be the early favorites with Yamon Figurs still on the PUP list with a foot issue.

Carr fits the mold of a Jim Leonhard-like returner.  He won’t be a home run hitter back there, but he’ll field kicks cleanly and gain positive yardage.  Webb shows outstanding speed and returned a kickoff for a touchdown last week.  He has great instincts and will be interesting to watch when the Ravens get into the preseason schedule.

When you consider that both players can contribute to the secondary’s depth and Figurs is rather limited as a wide receiver, I think Figurs may have a difficult time winning this job, even when he finally is healthy.

3:40 p.m. — The afternoon practice is complete, as the Ravens focused on their special teams on the upper fields at McDaniel College.  The team spent a considerable amount of time working on kick return blocking assignments.

While these practices aren’t the most exciting to observe if you’re a fan, this is the area where those fringe players can stake a claim for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Moving to the kicking battle, Graham Gano had the opportunity to get the reps—with Steve Hauschka having the day off—and he did not disappoint.  Gano was perfect on five attempts, hitting from 33, 36, 45, 47, and 53 yards.  I spoke to him after the afternoon session, and he was really please with how he was hitting the ball.

12:48 p.m. — The highlight of the morning was a long completion to Demetrius Williams from Joe Flacco the sideline, drawing the loud cheers of the Westminster fans.  Defensive back Chris Carr was guarding closely, but Flacco dropped the ball right into Williams’ hands as he reached over the defender.

Another highlight came when the offense was practicing its goal line sets.  Willis McGahee took the hand-off to the right side and was met by Ray Lewis who wrapped him up and appeared to have the running back stopped.  McGahee kept fighting and crossed the goal line, giving the offense a touchdown on the final play of the drill.

Both Ray Rice and McGahee continue to impresse onlookers, as both men have run with strength in the early stages of training camp.

12:20 p.m. — Ben Grubbs was hobbling around toward the end of practice and was not participating in team drills.  He had previously been on the PUP list with an ankle injury.  Justin Bannan did not practice this morning, but the reason was not disclosed.  Brendon Ayanbadejo continues to recover from a toe injury but was not wearing a walking boot as he walked out to the field at the end of practice.

12:07 p.m. — I have some other injury notes to pass along.  Tight ends L.J. Smith and Davon Drew did not practice, as Smith continues to recover from a hamstring strain and Drew has a right ankle injury.  The rookie tight end Drew was walking with a significant limp today, so it may take some time for him to get back on the field.

Antwan Barnes suffered a mild concussion on Sunday morning, but he was back on the field practicing today.

Samari Rolle, Adam Terry, and Yamon Figurs are still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Jason Phillips was cleared to practice yesterday and is off the list.

11:52 a.m. — The morning practice has come to an end, and there were two notable absences from the field.

Terrell Suggs has a sore left heel and will be out for a short period of time.  Both Suggs and coach John Harbaugh told reporters after practice that the injury was not serious.  Harbaugh expressed little concern with Suggs missing some time, pointing out that he had three solid days of reps in a row before the heel flared up on Sunday.

Suggs had been seen walking through the hotel Sunday afternoon with a walking boot.

Mark Clayton also did not practice, still recovering from a hamstring tweak.  Harbaugh said the team will be extra cautious with it, citing Clayton’s history of hamstring issues.  It is not believed to be a major strain, but the training staff wants to play it safe for at least a couple days.

Rookie Paul Kruger took Suggs’ place on the starting defense while Demetrius Williams, who had his own hamstring issue yesterday, took Clayton’s place with the starting unit.

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Live from Westminster: Oher signs, Mason placed on reserve/did not report list

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Luke Jones

11:54 p.m. — As I’ve discussed earlier—both in the blog and on the training camp reports—the delay in Oher’s signing was likely based on the slotting system that exists for signing draft picks.

With the 21st pick (Cleveland’s Alex Mack) and the 28th pick (Buffalo’s Eric Wood) signing contracts already, it gave some basic parameters for the Oher deal to get done.  Oher is only the sixth first-round pick to sign a contract.

We’re still waiting to hear the official terms.

11:02 p.m. —  John Harbaugh’s statement to the Ravens’ official site about the signing of Michael Oher:

“We knew Michael wanted to be here.  He said that many times.  Ozzie [Newsome] wanted him to be here, and his agent [Jimmy Sexton] wanted him to be here too.  The agent wanted to make sure he did the right thing by Michael, and we wanted that.”

10:48 p.m. — With the signing of their first-round pick, the Ravens have become one of the first teams in the NFL to sign all of their 2009 draft picks.  Others to sign all of their picks include Chicago, the New York Jets, and Pittsburgh.

10:01 p.m. — The Ravens just announced that they’ve signed Michael Oher to a five-year contract. More to come…

6:03 p.m. — A reminder that tomorrow is a team administrative day as the veterans get settled into Westminster.  The team’s activities are closed to both the public and media, so we won’t get our first look at the entire team until Friday.

Several of the veterans reporting today came out to the field during the afternoon practice to greet coaches and teammates.  These players included Ed Reed, Haruki Nakamura, Jarret Johnson, and Marcus Smith.

5:57 p.m. — Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs were working out individually, hitting the hand-held pads after practice.  Yanda is still wearing a bulky brace on his surgically-repaired knee but looked good getting out of his stance.

5:55 p.m. — I learned this afternoon that Joe Flacco did not miss a single offseason workout.  It’s definitely an impressive feat for the starting quarterback and has to make Ravens fans feel good.

5:53 p.m. — There were no apparent injuries in the afternoon, though I did see Demetrius Williams having his right leg stretched out by the training staff in the closing minutes of practice.  It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an injury, but it’s something to keep an eye on come Friday morning.

5:48 p.m. — The Ravens have wrapped up practice for the day.  The four workouts over the last two days were very similar, resembling what you see during OTAs.

The defensive players spent quite a bit of time working on alignments, using trash cans as offensive linemen.

Mark Clayton shined during 7-on-7 drills, reining in a pair of nice catches with Fabian Washington all over him.  The Ravens’ new No. 1 receiver by default has been very consistent in the first two days of workouts.

The coaching staff really seemed to be working on Washington this afternoon.  The starting cornerback has been recovering from neck and shoulder issues dating back to last season.

Justin Harper, continuing to impress, hauled in another long throw from Troy Smith.  As I mentioned in the morning, he has easily been the best of the lesser-known receivers including Eron Riley and Jayson Smith.

2:19 p.m. — Harbaugh talked a little bit about the death of former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.  The two coached together for a decade in Philadelphia.

The Ravens coach expressed sadness, calling Johnson a “football dad” of his.  Harbaugh believes Johnson was a defensive pioneer and suggested there should be a coordinator wing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Harbaugh reminisced about Johnson’s desire for his players to tackle like “an arrow through snow” and mentioned how many techniques that the Ravens use are methods taken from Johnson.

2:00 p.m. — I predict that Lardarius Webb will quickly become a fan favorite here in Baltimore.  He met with reporters after practice this morning and told a story about media relations director Chad Steele giving him some fashion advice and suggested the rookie defensive back cut his hair—he has long dreadlocks.  Webb replied that he wanted to wait until all of the kids were wearing fake dreadlocks in honor of him.

Harbaugh expects Webb to be a huge part of the Ravens’ special teams but also said the team will have to limit his reps, depending on how much he plays on defense.

1:43 p.m. — More and more veterans are beginning to file in, as I just saw Ray Rice and Trevor Pryce walk through the lobby of the Best Western.  Other players making an appearance include Haloti Ngata and Haruki Nakamura.  I did learn that several players living in the area checked in this morning but will not return to Wesminster until their physicals at 3:00 p.m.

12:07 p.m. — Veterans are set to report this afternoon for their physicals at 3:00 p.m.  I just saw Haruki Nakamura walk through the lobby not too long ago.

Though veterans will be here this afternoon, they will not participate in this afternoon’s practice.  The public’s first chance to watch the entire squad will be on Friday morning.

11:47 a.m. — The wide receivers worked on ball control by carrying a football attached to a bungee cord.  The players started at the goal post and had to carry the ball to the goal line while maintaining control of the ball.

11:40 a.m. — Some of the highlights of 7-on-7 drills included a long completion from Joe Flacco to Justin Harper and a long touchdown pass from Troy Smith to Harper.

The Ravens’ seventh-round pick in 2008, Harper spent the entire season on injured reserve with a knee injury.  At 6-3 and 215 pounds, Harper has good size, but he will need to showcase his ability to coaches to stick on the regular season roster.

Today’s showing was a good start.

11:23 a.m. — The tempo of the practice was similar to yesterday with the players dressed in shorts and no full-go contact taking place.

It was interesting seeing Harbaugh instruct during the special teams portion of practice.  He demonstrated the proper technique to use as a gunner on punts.  Even if you’re not familiar with the head coach’s pedigree as a special teams coordinator in Philadelphia, it was clear to see where his roots lie.

11:19 a.m. — The only injury to report really dates back to yesterday.  L.J. Smith tweaked a hamstring and was held out of morning practice as a precaution.  He did not participate in drills and stood on the sideline without a helmet.

John Harbaugh did not seem concerned with the injury.

11:12 a.m. — Regarding the 10 players placed on the active PUP list (tackle Lou Saucedo was waived last night), rookie tight end Davon Drew and defensive tackle Lamar Divens practiced this morning after passing the pre-camp conditioning test.  Both players participated in the morning workout.

Willis McGahee initially came onto the field with helmet, indicating there was some chance of him practicing this morning.  However, he soon returned to the training room and came out to the field without his helmet.  He participated in some individual drills and worked on his conditioning, but he is not allowed to participate in team drills, as per the rules of being on the PUP list.

11:07 a.m. — The morning practice has concluded, and the biggest news to come out of Westminster is the announcement that the Ravens are placing Derrick Mason on the reserve/did not report list.  The designation comes as no surprise since Mason announced his retirement over two weeks ago.  Mason has not filed any paperwork with the league office, leaving the door open for his return.

With Mason on this list, it means he will not count against the current 80-man roster limit but is eligible to return to the team at any time.  The Ravens still hold onto the veteran receiver’s rights.

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Ravens kick off 2009 Training Camp

Posted on 28 July 2009 by Luke Jones

The Baltimore Ravens completed their first workouts on Tuesday with rookies, quarterbacks, and selected veterans participating.  The morning and afternoon workouts each lasted an hour and 15 minutes due to a smaller roster needing a smaller number of reps.

“Guys worked hard; it was crisp,” coach John Harbaugh said.  “But it will be a lot sharper on Thursday and Friday.”

The Ravens announced 11 players would be placed on the active PUP (physically unable to perform) list to start training camp.  The players are Lamar Divens, Davon Drew, Yamon Figurs, Ben Grubbs, Willis McGahee, Jason Phillips, Joe Reitz, Samari Rolle, Lou Saucedo, Adam Terry, and Marshal Yanda.

These players still count against the 80-man training camp roster but may come off the list at any time to practice.  Once a player practices, he is no longer eligible for the more commonly-known reserve PUP list that is used in the regular season and requires a player to miss the first six weeks of the season.

“We’ll continue to put these guys through a physical, who have had injuries in the past,” Harbaugh said.  “We’re going to make sure that certain situations react positively to the work before we put them on the regular practice field.”

McGahee was probably the most surprising addition to the list, but both he and the head coach confirmed that it was strictly a precaution to protect the running back’s knee.  He looks to be in great shape and ready to practice in the near future.

“They just want to be sure,” McGahee said.  “We don’t want the same thing we had at last year’s training camp.”

Quarterback Joe Flacco looked sharp in his training camp debut and without veteran receiver Derrick Mason.  Last year as a rookie, Flacco relied on Mason in big situations countless times.  Despite losing a target who caught 80 passes in 2008, Flacco is confident in the passing offense’s ability to move the ball.

Flacco connected with both Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams numerous times during Tuesday’s practices.

“Last year coming in at this time, I had no idea who I was going to be throwing the ball to,” Flacco quipped.  “I didn’t know what Derrick Mason or Mark Clayton even looked like…This year, we’re in much better shape than we were in last year.”

If Flacco is telling the truth, the Ravens will need to have a healthy Williams on the field.  The fourth-year receiver has battled injuries the last two years but will start opposite of Clayton in Mason’s absence.  The receiver looks noticeably bigger and stronger, setting a goal to build muscle mass around the joints.  Williams hauled in a pretty sideline catch over Frank Walker in the afternoon, drawing the cheers of the training camp crowd.

“I think his goal is to become a durable football player, along with becoming capable of doing all the things he needs to do as a receiver,” Harbaugh said.  “He looked good out there [Tuesday].  There was no indication of the Achilles [injury] at all.”

Another player returning from an injury is veteran defensive tackle Kelly Gregg.  Wearing only an ace bandage on his surgically-repaired knee, Gregg participated fully in both the morning and afternoon practices.

With a healthy Gregg, 32, joining Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce, and top reserve Justin Bannan, the Ravens are hoping to field an even better defensive line than they enjoyed a year ago.

“I feel great about our defensive line,” defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said.  “In watching a bunch of film in the offseason, the thing that keeps sticking out is that the front seven gets after it.  They have a lot of pride, and now with [Dwan] Edwards back and Kelly [Gregg] back, you’ve just added depth to that, and it should allow us to rotate guys and keeps guys fresh throughout the year.”

– The Ravens signed wide receiver Jayson Foster, a 5-7 receiver with good speed.  Foster attended Georgia Southern and spent time with Pittsburgh, Miami, and Denver on their practice squads.

Former Maryland Terp Isaiah Williams was waived on Tuesday.  The rookie wide receiver was signed by the Ravens in May.

– Veterans are set to report to Westminster on Wednesday.  Physicals are scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

The first full-squad practices open to the public will be on Friday.

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Live from Westminster: Ravens waive Sypniewski & sign WR Biren Ealy

Posted on 27 July 2009 by Luke Jones

8:32 p.m. – Ealy’s dismissal from the New Orleans Saints stems from an arrest back in May.  You can read about it here.

5:57 p.m. – If you’re on the WNST text service, you just learned the Ravens have signed wide receiver Biren Ealy.  Having only one career catch, I’m not sure Ealy would be the signing to “replace” Drew Bennett, but he is another warm body here in Westminster.

Ealy played his college football at Houston and played four games with the Tennessee Titans in 2007.

5:42 p.m. – Willis McGahee just walked into the lobby of the Best Western, joining veterans Samari Rolle, Adam Terry, and Antwan Barnes among the select veterans reporting today.

McGahee looks to be in good shape, but we’ll get our first look at the former Hurricane tomorrow morning on the field.

He was second behind Ray Rice on the depth chart during OTAs, as he was recovering from offseason knee surgery.

As I type this, I just saw Kellly Gregg walk through the door.

5:14 p.m. – Lardarius Webb is really excited to get going and says that the sore hamstring that plagued him during OTAs is now 100 percent.

He mentioned how much he’s learned from just observing Ed Reed—his hero growing up—and how he’s looking forward to playing with him.

4:01 p.m. – Ozzie Newsome was overheard in the hotel lobby shooting down any chance of Michael Vick becoming a Raven.

“We have a quarterback,” he said.  “We have three quarterbacks.”

3:17 p.m. – The John Harbaugh press conference was very brief.  It will be available in the WNST audio vault shortly.

* Harbaugh described Bennett’s condition as an “arthritic” knee.  The veteran receiver just didn’t think he could do it anymore.

* There are some “irons in the fire” regarding the wide receiver position.  Harbaugh said the Ravens would be adding a receiver but did not name anyone specifically, speculating that it could be a veteran or a young player.

* Regarding Michael Oher’s contract status, he said the rookie right tackle wants to be in camp on time but understands his agent needs to get the best deal possible for him.  Harbaugh pointed out that very few first round picks have signed contracts and how the slotting process delays negotiations.

The deal should happen “pretty soon” according to Harbaugh.

* Harbaugh insists that Quinn Sypniewski—waived earlier today—is still in the team’s plans, but the organization could not afford to keep him on the 80-man training camp roster.

The surgery on Sypniewski’s injured knee did not work last season, and he is recovering from another procedure.

* Harbaugh said the team would make decisions on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list tomorrow but would not disclose any players who would be on the list.

2:20 p.m. – I just spoke to third-round pick Lardarius Webb, and he’s very excited to finally be at training camp.  He actually spent the last month here in Baltimore, continuing to train and work out at the Ravens’ facility.

2:10 p.m. – If you’re looking for another person who isn’t sure of Derrick Mason’s status for this season, look no further than his quarterback Joe Flacco.

Flacco today said he spoke to Mason last week, and the 35-year-old receiver did not “sound too sure” about the prospects of returning to the Ravens.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about the Mason situation this afternoon when Harbaugh speaks to the media.

1:48 p.m. – The news of Quinn Sypniewski being waived is not very surprising given the state of his surgically-repaired knee that cost him the entire 2008 season.  The young tight end had experienced some setbacks this offseason in getting the knee back into football shape.

With Todd Heap, L.J. Smith, Edgar Jones, and rookie Davon Drew in the fold, the Ravens have plenty of capable tight ends to compete this summer.

1:12 p.m. – Other players making their way to Westminster include Paul Kruger, Jason Phillips, Jason Cook, and Graham Gano—who was sporting a new buzz cut.

I had the chance to talk to Gano about his battle with Steve Hauschka for the kicking job.  He’s confident and says he’s kicking better than he ever has right now.  The interview is available in the WNST audio vault.

12:06 p.m. – I just had the chance to chat with John Harbaugh in the lobby.  He will make his official statement about Drew Bennett at 3:00 p.m., but he was surprised to hear about the veteran receiver’s retirement.

Bennett’s decision seems to be completely about the poor health of his knee.

Harbaugh confirmed that he met face-to-face with Derrick Mason last week.  There had been some confusion in the media over whether their discussion was over the phone or in person.

11:47 a.m. – The players are starting to trickle in slowly.  I just spoke to sixth-round pick and running back Cedric Peerman.  He’s refreshed and ready to go for his first training camp as an NFL player.

Antwan Barnes has also walked through the lobby, the first “select” veteran to make an appearance.

10:59 a.m. – I’m here at the Best Western in Westminster, waiting for the Ravens rookies, quarterbacks, and select veterans to report for training camp here at McDaniel College.

It’s been a very quiet morning with the only noteworthy appearance being made by assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg, walking through the lobby.

The news on everyone’s mind is obviously the surprising retirement of veteran wide receiver Drew Bennett two days after signing a contract with the Ravens.  The announcement leaves the Ravens exactly where they were two weeks ago when Derrick Mason announced his own retirement.

John Harbaugh will speak to the media at 3:00 p.m., and the wide receiver position will surely be the hot topic of discussion.

Will the Ravens now turn their efforts toward D.J. Hackett?  The former Seahawk and Panther was among four receivers who tried out on Friday—along with Bennett, former Lion Chris Hannon, and rookie Justin Brown.

Hackett was also scheduled to try out back in May along with Kelley Washington, Jerry Porter, and Tab Perry but chose to try out with the Houston Texans instead.  The Ravens decided to go with Washington.

Hackett’s best season came with Seattle in 2006 when he caught 45 balls for 610 yards and four touchdowns

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Four down, two to go for the Ravens

Posted on 25 June 2009 by Luke Jones

The Baltimore Ravens have signed third-round pick Lardarius Webb to a three-year contract with a reported $530,000 signing bonus.

The Nicholls St. defensive back is the Ravens’ fourth draft pick to sign a contract, joining linebacker Jason Phillips, tight end Davon Drew, and running back Cedric Peerman.

The remaining unsigned picks are offensive tackle Michael Oher (first round) and linebacker/defensive end Paul Kruger (second round).

Considering the Ravens typically have not negotiated with their draft picks until July, the chance of both Oher and Kruger reporting to training camp on time appears likely.

If Oher would sign prior to July 27, it would mark the third year in a row in which the Ravens have signed their first-round pick before the start of training camp.  The Ravens’ last two first-rounders were quarterback Joe Flacco (2008) and guard Ben Grubbs (2007).

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