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Steve Smith’s expectations realistic in coming to Ravens

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Steve Smith’s expectations realistic in coming to Ravens

Posted on 23 July 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Steve Smith has talked plenty about motivation this offseason but is also grounded in reality as he officially begins his first training camp with the Ravens on Thursday.

Understandably having a chip on his shoulder over being released by the Carolina Panthers after spending the first 13 seasons of his career in Charlotte, the 35-year-old wide receiver is looking to prove he still has plenty left in the tank to help the Ravens, but there are no predictions of a 1,300-yard season or a return to the Pro Bowl. His motivation is shaped by perspective with an eye toward the end of his career knowing nobody wins the battle with Father Time.

“You can never perform at as high a level at 35 that you did at 25,” Smith said. “My job is to go out there and catch what’s catchable and have fun doing it. [I don’t want to] really concern myself too much on the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘Should I be here?’ or ‘Should I be there?’ The things that I’ve experienced in my career, honestly, they’re not going to get any better, and the reason why is because my perspective is different. Hopefully, I will accomplish better things statistically, but I’m living the dream.”

It’s difficult to predict what to expect from Smith in terms of production on the field as his yards per catch average has decreased from 17.6 in 2011 to 16.1 in 2012 to 11.6 last season, which was his lowest mark since 2007. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound wideout has depended on speed on the outside for much of his career, but he will need to reinvent himself as more of a possession receiver to thrive in Gary Kubiak’s offensive system while Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones provide two stronger outside options in the vertical passing game.

The University of Utah product turned in an excellent spring, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running crisp shorter routes whether working outside or in the slot. Smith downplayed how long it will take to build a rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco — simply explaining he’ll catch anything that should be caught — but also recognizes he doesn’t have to be the primary focus of the passing game like he was for more than a decade with the Panthers.

“I understand there are going to be times when I’m the premier receiver,” Smith said, “and there are times that I need to clear through for Torrey or Jacoby or Marlon [Brown]. You have to be able to be efficient in any offense; you’ve got to understand in every play what your role is.”

Of course, the Ravens’ motivation in signing Smith to a three-year, $11.5 million in March went beyond the number of passes he’ll catch as the offense lacked vocal leadership and swagger last season following the trade of veteran wideout Anquan Boldin. Smith has already shown he isn’t afraid to stir the pot as he mixed it up with cornerback Lardarius Webb during last month’s mandatory minicamp.

He’ll need to be productive on the field to authentically establish himself as a leader, but the early returns suggest both sides of the ball have benefited from his competitive fire during practices. It’s a reputation that was well known to the Ravens long before the veteran stepped foot in Owings Mills this spring.

“We get another defensive guy playing offense with Steve coming over,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “This is one guy last year [who defensive coordinator] Dean Pees told us not to anger, and it was a preseason game. The goal was to do our time and get out of there. It’s great to have him on our team.”

Smith’s ability to rebound from an underwhelming 745-yard season a year ago will go a long way in determining whether the Ravens can substantially improve their 29th-ranked offense in 2013. He doesn’t need to be a 1,000-yard receiver, but the veteran will be asked to catch shorter passes and help move the chains on third down, an area in which the Ravens ranked only 20th last season.

The longtime Panther knows his career is winding down but thinks he’s found the ideal place to fit his personality.

“I’m lucky to even be here,” Smith said. “After you hit 35, you should be with a walker and all that stuff. I’m just happy to be playing ball and have the opportunity to play in a conference where it’s smash-mouth football, and I’m going to fit in perfectly [with] that.”

Pierce, Reid ready to go

The Ravens will conduct their first full-squad workout on Thursday morning and enter the summer with a short injury report as running back Bernard Pierce and offensive lineman Jah Reid both participated fully in Tuesday’s workout.

Pierce has now been cleared after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery while Reid was sidelined with a calf injury in the spring.

“These two days they both looked good. They both looked fine; they have no problems,” coach John Harbaugh said. “There are some full-speed-type drills out there, not contact, but the speed of it, and they had no problems. We’ll work them through the first two days. Thursday and Friday are both full speed, but they’re not full contact, so that’ll be another chance for them to take the next step that way. I don’t anticipate any problems.”

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody is the only veteran with a clear injury concern entering camp as he’s still recovering from offseason hip surgery. Harbaugh said the fifth-year lineman is progressing, but there is no clear target date of when he’ll return to the practice field.

Dumervil grateful for opportunity provided by Bowlen in Denver

With Wednesday’s news of Pat Bowlen stepping down as owner of the Denver Broncos due to Alzheimer’s disease, Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil offered his support after spending the first seven seasons of his career in Denver.

“He helped impact my life [and] my family for generations to come,” Dumervil said. “He was a great guy. He always asked about my health, and when I was out for the year [in 2010], we talked a bit. He was always great to me, and I was always grateful for that. When I heard about the news, it was a sad day for that.”

 

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Live from Owings Mills: Five Ravens miss final day of mandatory minicamp

Posted on 19 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens held their final practice of mandatory minicamp and the final organized team activity before August’s Training Camp Thursday.

Five Ravens were again missing during practice.

OL Jah Reid was again missing from practice due a strained calf that is not believed to be a long-term issue. DL Terrence Cody remained out after having offseason hip surgery-it is hopeful he will be able to return in time for Training Camp.

DL Kapron Lewis-Moore missed Thursday’s session due to a hamstring injury he suffered earlier in the week. WR Kamar Aiken remained out with a leg injury and OL Parker Graham missed practice again an injury that has not been disclosed.

With the team cutting WR Aaron Mellette and LB Adrian Hamilton due to failed physicals, the roster shapes up to be in reasonable health heading into Training Camp.

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Lewis-Moore only new absence during Wednesday’s minicamp practice

Posted on 18 June 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continued to have excellent attendance at their second day of mandatory minicamp as only five players were missing from the field on Wednesday.

Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore was not present after leaving practice the day before with what appeared to be a left hamstring injury. He joined defensive tackle Terrence Cody (hip surgery), offensive linemen Jah Reid (calf) and Parker Graham (undisclosed), and wide receiver Kamar Aiken (lower leg) as non-participants on Wednesday.

Coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday that Reid’s calf strain continues to improve and that the fourth-year lineman will be ready for the start of training camp. Cody isn’t expected to return until camp.

Running back Bernard Pierce (shoulder surgery) once again took part in individual drills and is on track to be cleared fully by the start of camp in late July.

Asked if he was pleased with the conditioning level of veterans such as Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs who were not present for the previous three weeks of voluntary organized team activities, Harbaugh did not express any specific concerns in getting his first look at them this week.

“It’s hard to evaluate all that, but I’m certainly not disappointed in anybody,” Harbaugh said. “They all look good. If I was going to single a guy out, it would probably be Terrell Suggs. He can give you the numbers, but I’ll tell you this — the numbers were very good. You can tell he’s been working really hard.”

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Ravens offensive lineman Reid arrested for misdemeanor battery

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Ravens offensive lineman Reid arrested for misdemeanor battery

Posted on 09 March 2014 by Luke Jones

A troubling offseason for the Ravens got worse Sunday as reserve offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested and charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery in Key West, Fla. early Sunday.

According to the Key West police department, Reid was arrested following an altercation with several others at a bar that escalated when security tried to break up the fight. There is reportedly video evidence of the offensive lineman punching a security guard in the face multiple times.

He was released on $2,000 bond Sunday.

The 25-year-old is the third Baltimore player arrested over the last month, joining running back Ray Rice (simple assault-domestic violence) and wide receiver Deonte Thompson (marijuana possession).

“We have learned of the situation and are gathering information,” Ravens director of public relations Chad Steele said in statement.

The 2011 third-round pick has never lived up to the Ravens’ expectations and appeared in 10 games as a reserve last season. Reid made seven starts at left guard in 2012 before a toe injury ended his season and rookie Kelechi Osemele settled into the position during the postseason run to Super Bowl XLVII.

Reid is likely on the bubble to make the 53-man roster as he enters his fourth season in Baltimore, so this off-field incident won’t do him any favors in how the organization views him moving forward.

 

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Osemele likely to undergo season-ending back surgery

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Osemele likely to undergo season-ending back surgery

Posted on 01 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele discussed his chronic back problem at length prior to the bye week and it appears his 2013 season is now over.

Coach John Harbaugh announced after Friday’s practice that the second-year offensive linemen would not play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday and will likely undergo season-ending back surgery to have a disc problem corrected. Osemele’s back appeared to have worsened earlier in the week and his chances of playing the rest of the year are remote, according to the head coach.

Before officially being ruled out on Friday afternoon, Osemele had made 23 straight starts and hadn’t missed a game in his young career.

“There are some changes in his back that we discovered this week,” Harbaugh said. “He’s not going to play in this game. Going forward, I think the chances of him playing the rest of the year probably are pretty slim. There’s a good chance he’s going to get surgery here real soon. The back was just getting a little worse and a little worse as we went. We went back in and looked at it, and there’s some things that need to get taken care of there.”

Osemele practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday before being sidelined on Thursday, raising red flags regarding the status of his back. The 2012 second-round pick told reporters during the bye week that he’s dealt with the back injury since his rookie year and it had gotten worse this season, acknowledging that he would need to have surgery.

Backup center A.Q. Shipley will start at left guard against the Browns and replaced Osemele when back spasms sidelined him against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 6. Harbaugh said 2011 third-round pick Jah Reid and rookie Rick Wagner will also be in the mix at the position.

“He’s played very well when he’s been in there,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a football player. He’s always played well whenever he plays. And there are other guys that will be in the mix. The offensive line is developing very well, and I’m excited to see how they play going forward. We’ll actually be better, I think, with a healthier player.”

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 309 pounds, Shipley is four inches shorter and 21 pounds lighter than Osemele, giving the Ravens undersized players at both the center and left guard positions. Shipley began practicing more extensively at left guard following Osemele’s spasms in Miami and expressed confidence that he will be able to handle a new position.

Shipley has never started an NFL game at left guard and he made five starts at center for the Indianapolis Colts last season before he was dealt to the Ravens this offseason for a conditional seventh-round pick.

“I’ve been ready. I’ve been preparing as a starter for something like this,” Shipley said. “That’s the nature of this business, so it’s ‘next man up.’ [Guard] is a little easier in terms of the mental aspect. I just have to listen to the center now. It’s very similar to center; I’ve just got a little more space to deal with now.”

Meanwhile, Reid has been inactive for all but one game this season, but the third-year lineman has more experience at the position. After former Ravens Ramon Harewood and Bobbie Williams were given opportunities at left guard, Reid started seven games before a toe injury ended his 2012 season and paved the way for Osemele to move from right tackle to left guard for the postseason.

Other than Osemele, the Ravens appear to be in good shape from a health standpoint as all other members of the 53-man roster were present and working during Friday’s practice.

Veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game and practiced on a limited basis all week. Five others were listed as probable, including right tackle Michael Oher (ankle) and linebacker Josh Bynes (finger).

For the Browns, starting running back Willis McGahee (knee) was a full participant on Friday and is listed as probable to play against his former team.

Scott Green will be the referee for Sunday’s game in Cleveland. Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-40s with a 30 percent chance of rain but most of the precipitation coming in the morning.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: G Kelechi Osemele (back/knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)
PROBABLE: LB Josh Bynes (finger/thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), T Michael Oher (ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)

CLEVELAND
QUESTIONABLE: LB Quentin Groves (ankle), DL Billy Winn (Quad)
PROBABLE: DL Desmond Bryant (thumb), RB Willis McGahee (knee), RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ribs), DB Chris Owens (finger), LB Jabaal Sheard (wrist)

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Ravens list 17 players as probable for Saturday’s divisional playoff in Denver

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Ravens list 17 players as probable for Saturday’s divisional playoff in Denver

Posted on 11 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Releasing their final injury report ahead of Saturday’s divisional round game against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens listed 17 players no worse than probable as they appear healthier than they’ve been since the early portion of the season.

Running back Bernard Pierce, fullback Vonta Leach, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and wide receivers Torrey Smith and David Reed all practiced on a limited basis on Friday, but each player was designated as probable against Denver. Pierce and Leach returned to the practice field on a limited basis Thursday after failing to participate in Wednesday’s workout.

Earlier Friday, the Ravens placed offensive lineman Jah Reid (toe) on injured reserve and activated cornerback Asa Jackson from the reserved-suspended list.

Coach John Harbaugh anticipated an optimistic injury report when speaking to reporters following Thursday’s practice, which was the final open day of the week for the media in Owings Mills.

“It’s encouraging to have all our guys,” Harbaugh said. “As I pointed out earlier, we’re not anticipating anybody missing this game. We’ll have that report out for you, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything on there that’s going to surprise you at all. We look like we’re in good shape.”

Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos also turned in a favorable final injury report as only cornerback Tracy Porter was ruled out with a concussion. Head coach John Fox listed seven other players as probable for Saturday’s game.

BALTIMORE
OUT: OL Jah Reid (toe)
PROBABLE: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), WR David Reed (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), WR Torrey Smith (back), LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles/biceps), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DENVER
OUT: CB Tracy Porter (concussion)
PROBABLE: S Mike Adams (knee), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), T Orlando Franklin (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (ankle), G Chris Kuper (ankle), S Jim Leonhard (thigh), WR Matt Willis (knee)

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Ravens place OL Reid on IR, activate CB Jackson

Posted on 11 January 2013 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have placed offensive lineman Jah Reid on season-ending injured reserve and have activated rookie cornerback Asa Jackson to assume his spot on the 53-man roster.

Dealing with a toe injury for the last two weeks, Reid missed the wild-card playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts as the Ravens elected to shuffle their offensive line by inserting veteran Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, moving rookie Kelechi Osemele to left guard, and sliding Michael Oher to right tackle. Reid hadn’t practiced all week and was listed as a limited participant in practices last week leading into the Indianapolis game.

Reid appeared in nine games this season and had started seven contests at left guard prior to suffering the injury.

Jackson was suspended four games in December for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy after reportedly testing positive for unapproved use of Adderall. The 2012 fifth-round pick was allowed to return to the team’s Owings Mills facility on Monday.

Due to a significant number of injuries in the secondary, Jackson had been active in three straight games and played on special teams prior to being suspended. He was on the inactive list for the Ravens’ first 10 games this season.

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Pierce, Leach return to practice on limited basis Thursday

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Pierce, Leach return to practice on limited basis Thursday

Posted on 10 January 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 3:50 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In their final full practice open to the media ahead of their playoff game against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens regained two vital members of their offensive backfield as backup running back Bernard Pierce and Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach returned to practice on Thursday.

Each player worked on a limited basis in the Ravens’ final full practice of the week before departing for Denver on Friday afternoon. Pierce hadn’t participated in practices in the previous two days as he’s dealt with a knee injury. The veteran Leach has been hindered by an ankle injury for the last month and received Wednesday’s practice off after working on Tuesday.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe worked on a limited basis once again, but two players were added to Thursday’s report as wide receivers Torrey Smith (back) and David Reed (thigh) were limited participants as well.

“It’s encouraging to have all our guys,” coach John Harbaugh said. “As I pointed out earlier, we’re not anticipating anybody missing this game. We’ll have that report out for you, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything on there that’s going to surprise you at all. We look like we’re in good shape.”

Pierce relished the opportunity for some extra rest as he’s dealing with a sore right knee. The 2012 third-round pick watched practice from the sideline on Tuesday and Wednesday, which was a good indication that the Ravens weren’t overly concerned about the injury.

In contrast to Pierce, Leach has typically received at least one practice off in each of the last few weeks to rest his sore ankle. The three-time Pro Bowl selection removed any doubt that he would be ready to go against Denver. All signs point to Pierce being available as well.

“I had to take it easy a couple days,” said Pierce, who rushed for a game-high 103 yards in the wild-card playoff win over Indianapolis. “My body was real beat up, but I’m back. I’m feeling good, and it’s time to play football.”

The rookie back has become a larger part of the running game over the last five games in which he’s rushed for 388 yards on 62 attempts, which is good for just below 6.3 yards per carry. Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice remains a large part of the offense, but many are calling for the physical Pierce to receive extensive work to wear down opposing front sevens.

Regardless of his strong performance over the weeks of the season, Pierce said there will be no way to keep him off the field in terms of his health for Saturday.

“I’m a very competitive person,” Pierce said. “I’m ready to die for my team on any given Sunday, so I’m not missing anything.”

Guard Jah Reid (toe) was the only player absent from practice on Thursday as his status for the divisional playoff game in Denver remains in serious doubt. The second-year offensive lineman did not play in last Sunday’s win over Indianapolis, leading the Ravens to insert veteran Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and slide rookie Kelechi Osemele to left guard and Michael Oher to right tackle.

There were no changes to the Broncos’ injury report on Thursday as cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) was the only player not to participate.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Jah Reid (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), WR David Reed (thigh), WR Torrey Smith (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/bicep), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DENVER
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Tracy Porter (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Mike Adams (knee), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), T Orlando Franklin (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (ankle), G Chris Kuper (ankle), S Jim Leonhard (thigh), WR Matt Willis (knee)

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Leach, Pierce, Reid miss Wednesday’s practice

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Leach, Pierce, Reid miss Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens continued preparations for Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the Denver Broncos without two key members of their backfield on Wednesday.

Fullback Vonta Leach (ankle) was absent during the open portion of practice while running back Bernard Pierce didn’t participate in practice for the second straight day with a knee injury. Dealing with an ankle injury for the better part of a month, Leach appeared to be practicing on Tuesday, but the Ravens did not release an injury report. He has received periodic days of rest over the last few weeks of practice, so his absence on Wednesday should be regarded with little concern.

Despite rushing for a game-high 103 yards in the Ravens’ 24-9 wild-card playoff win over Indianapois, Pierce was listed as limited all last week in practices with an ankle injury. However, the rookie was listed as having a knee injury on the first edition of this week’s report.

Left guard Jah Reid was absent for the second straight day as he continues to recover from a toe injury that kept him out of the first round of the playoffs. All signs are pointing to the Ravens staying with the same offensive line they used last Sunday, which included veteran Bryant McKinnie making his first start of the season.

Listed as a limited participant on Wednesday, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was practicing for the second straight day after leaving Sunday’s win with a sprained ankle. The fourth-year defensive player has dealt with the same ankle injury since late November, which forced him to miss three games last month.

The Broncos had only one player listed as a non-participant as cornerback Tracy Porter sat out with a concussion on Wednesday.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), G Jah Reid (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/bicep), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DENVER
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Tracy Porter (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Mike Adams (knee), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), T Orlando Franklin (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (ankle), G Chris Kuper (ankle), S Jim Leonhard (thigh), WR Matt Willis (knee)

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Status of rookie running back Pierce a mystery for Tuesday’s practice

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Following a 103-yard rushing performance in the Ravens’ 24-9 wild-card playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts, running back Bernard Pierce did not appear to be taking part in Tuesday’s indoor practice.

The rookie was on the field without a helmet during the portion of practice open to the media. Despite playing at an exceptional level against Indianapolis, Pierce practiced on a limited basis all last week with an ankle injury.

Left guard Jah Reid (toe) was not present during the media viewing portion of practice as it appears his status will remain in doubt for Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos. In Reid’s absence, the Ravens made the long-awaited decision to insert Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, move rookie Kelechi Osemele to left guard, and slide Michael Oher to the right tackle position.

Baltimore limited the Colts to just one sack and two quarterback hits, but the offensive line will face an even bigger challenge this week against pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, who were the most prolific sack tandem in the NFL with a combined 29 1/2 quarterback drops this season.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was present and working during Tuesday’s practice after leaving Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle.

The Ravens did not release an official injury report following the workout but will release reports on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

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