OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens returned to the practice field Tuesday by making their first adjustment to their 53-man roster by waiving veteran inside linebacker Josh Bynes and re-signing cornerback Derek Cox.
All 53 players on the roster were present and working as they prepare for the 2014 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but the departure of Bynes was surprising as the Ravens preferred to keep special-teams standout Albert McClellan and rookie free agent Zach Orr behind starting inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley. Bynes made six starts last season in place of the injured Jameel McClain and collected 45 tackles and three pass breakups over 15 games.
Bynes made the final tackle of Super Bowl XLVII to help the Ravens win their second NFL championship at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
“All I can tell you about Josh Bynes is if we can ever bring him back, we will, in whatever capacity we can,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s been a Raven through and through; he’s done nothing but help us be our best; he’s [been] completely all in for everything that we’ve ever done here. I love Josh, and I know he’ll do well no matter what he does.”
With only four cornerbacks on their 53-man roster when they made final cuts on Saturday, the Ravens brought back Cox to add depth and another veteran to compete with Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown for the No. 3 cornerback spot. Baltimore signed Cox last week after he was cut by the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 25, but he was initially cut over the weekend.
General manager Ozzie Newsome has been pursuing other options at the cornerback position as the Ravens lack depth behind starters Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, who were both slowed by injuries during the summer. The good news was the sight of Webb (back), Smith (chest), and Jackson (ankle) all taking part in drills during the portion of practice open to media on Tuesday.
Cox began his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being taken in the third round of the 2009 draft. The William & Mary product started 45 games for Jacksonville over our seasons before signing a four-year, $20 million contract with the San Diego Chargers prior to the 2013 campaign.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back began 2013 as a starter before being benched for poor play and losing his starting job in Week 13. He finished with 38 tackles, one interception, and seven pass breakups in 16 games, 11 of them starts. According to Pro Football Focus, Cox graded out 106th out of 110 cornerbacks to play at least 25 percent of his team’s snaps during the 2013 season.
Cox was released by the Chargers in March and signed a one-year contract with the Vikings later that month, but Minnesota parted ways with him when teams were forced to cut their preseason roster from 90 to 75 players.
Tight end Owen Daniels (leg), running back Bernard Pierce (head), offensive lineman Jah Reid (head), and safety Matt Elam (leg) were all present and participating in practice once again after they all returned to practice on Saturday. After Harbaugh had repeatedly told reporters that Daniels was dealing with general leg soreness and swelling, the 31-year-old acknowledged after Tuesday’s practice that he’s been stricken with a hamstring injury.
“I feel really good. I had a little hammy issue, but that’s all cleared up [and] I’m ready to go,” Daniels said. “I’m excited to get going this first week. I got a ton of good work in those first two weeks. Obviously, I would have liked to have been out there those middle two [preseason] games. We played it smart. Week 1 is the most important thing.”
The Ravens also have a pair of jersey number changes as rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro is now wearing No. 15 and Orr is sporting No. 54.