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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — After a successful first trip to Annapolis last year, the Ravens once again took training camp on the road Sunday in a public practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Ravens drew more than 20,000 fans to Annapolis last year for one of three public practices to offset the discontinuation of training camp in Westminster. Once again, Baltimore will hold practices at M&T Bank Stadium as well as Stevenson University this summer in an effort to give fans an opportunity to see them practice.
The organization did not have an official attendance figure after Sunday’s practice, but a team official described the crowd as “comparable” to last year’s turnout.
Baltimore is now two weeks into camp and still a few days away from its preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making Sunday a golden opportunity to break up the monotony of daily practices at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills. It also provided a stadium setting for rookie players getting ready for their first live-game action on Thursday.
“The great thing about it is that you get in a situation like this where you’re in a stadium,” Harbaugh said. “It’s amazing how guys’ brains seem to shut down the first time they get into a new environment. So, you go down to Tampa and you go on the road in a game, and it’s hard for them, so they start making little mistakes. I think this will be a stepping-stone towards that.”
Safety James Ihedigbo (neck) and wide receiver David Reed (groin) were new absentees on Sunday, joining Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore as non-participants. According to the Ravens’ official Twitter account on Friday, Ihedigbo was shaken up on the final play of practice in Owings Mills, but the injury wasn’t believed to be serious.
Both Harbaugh and Ihedigbo confirmed the strong safety is dealing with a minor neck injury. Ihedigbo was listed as the starter on the team’s first depth chart released last week as he continues to compete with first-round pick Matt Elam, who took the reps with the first-team defense on Sunday.
“We’re just giving James a rest on the neck,” Harbaugh said. “He kind of got tweaked a little bit – [there’s] a little strain in there. It’s from the special teams drills. He goes pretty hard in there, so more than anything, I want to back him off a little bit.”
Tight end Ed Dickson practiced on Sunday but left the field early in the session after tweaking his hamstring. The injury forced veteran Visanthe Shiancoe into extensive action with the starting offense.
Harbaugh eased concerns about Dickson’s status after practice as the Ravens are already dealing with the season-ending hip injury suffered by starting tight end Dennis Pitta.
“His hamstring grabbed a little bit, so we pulled him out for precautionary reasons,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll take a look at it tomorrow and see how it looks and see where we’re at.”
Offensive lineman Ramon Harewood returned to the practice field for the first time in over a week Sunday after receiving an injection to alleviate swelling in his knee.
Fans greeted players with loud cheers and enthusiasm as they took the field shortly after 5 p.m., with Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco receiving the loudest reaction.
Tucker comes up short by his long standards
Kicker Justin Tucker had no problem converting a series of kicks from under 50 yards Sunday, but the Ravens once again tested the limits of his remarkable range.
After missing a 58-yard attempt wide to the left, Tucker came up just short on kicks from 63, 65, and 68 yards. The second-year kicker hit the crossbar on a 63-yarder, which is the distance equaling the NFL record.
“It was fun,” said Harbaugh, who’s teased his kicker whenever he’s missed from record-setting distances this summer. “It was great to see him out here in front of the crowd and get the long field goals. I’m always disappointed when he misses those 69-yarders, you know?”
McKinnie sounds off on weight issue
Left tackle Bryant McKinnie appeared to be growing tired of the questions about his weight on Sunday after he missed the first full-squad workout two weeks ago for being roughly 10 pounds overweight.
The 33-year-old has taken part in every workout since, but he is still trying to reach his target weight of 346 pounds that was prescribed by the teae. McKinnie said Sunday that he hasn’t played at that weight since 2002 but is moving closer to it.
“It’s not an issue,” McKinnie said. “I’m not like a big, huge guy. I’m not fat or sloppy. People will see me and they’re like, ‘Oh, you lost a lot of weight.’ Actually, I didn’t. It’s just every time I’m overweight — whether it’s five or 10 pounds — people assume I’ve just ballooned up.”
Odds & ends
Flacco and wide receiver Torrey Smith appeared to be picking on third-year cornerback Chykie Brown as they connected for two touchdowns against him during 11-on-11 drills. The pair completed a score on a comeback route on which Brown lost his footing and later connected on a touchdown strike on a quick inside slant in the red zone. … Rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette caught a long touchdown from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor as the seventh-round pick beat cornerback Asa Jackson to catch a pretty pass. … Wide receiver Jacoby Jones had the most impressive route of the day, burning Jimmy Smith badly on a double move that caused the third-year defensive back to fall down during a 1-on-1 drill. … Rookie cornerback Moe Lee intercepted a Tyrod Taylor pass in a team drill, showing a quick break on the ball to continue his impressive camp despite an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. … Owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome were present after attending Jonathan Ogden’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio on Saturday night. As practice was concluding, Bisciotti heeded the cries of young fans to show off his Super Bowl ring, pretending to toss the ring into the stands before walking over and offering the children a closer look at the gaudy piece of jewelry.