Tag Archive | "jared gaither"

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GAMEDAY: Five compelling Ravens to watch tonight

Posted on 12 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With the pregame buzz of a nationally-televised game inevitably wearing off shortly after the actual game begins (the first preseason game always provides that letdown, doesn’t it?), fans must channel their focus on individual standouts among many with no chance of making the 53-man roster in early September.

Stars such as Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, and Ray Rice will only be making cameo appearances, but the stakes are much higher for lesser-known players yet to make their name popular in the Charm City. A few are battling for starting positions while others are simply contending for a spot on the 53-man roster, with the Ravens or one of the other 31 teams in the National Football League.

Below is a list of five players to watch in tonight’s game against the Carolina Panthers. A couple of familiar names are trying to enhance their stature while the others have stood out in training camp and can improve their position for making the squad—in Baltimore or elsewhere—with strong performances in the preseason.

1. LB Jameel McClain

We all expected a battle between Tavares Gooden and Dannell Ellerbe for the inside linebacker spot next to Lewis, but McClain has emerged as the biggest surprise of training camp. The third-year linebacker was a special teams standout in his first two seasons with the Ravens, but he’s taken an overwhelming majority of the reps with the starting defense while Gooden and Ellerbe have worked with the second team.

McClain is beginning to draw comparisons to former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott in that both went undrafted, played multiple positions in college, and earned their money via special teams in the infancy of their respective careers. McClain can play all four linebacker positions in the Ravens’ 3-4 scheme, but he credits being able to focus on the inside spot as a major factor for his new-found status as a defensive starter.

Of course, being a starter in training camp doesn’t mean he’ll start in September, but it’s apparent how far McClain has progressed from the summer of 2008 when he was a nondescript linebacker-defensive end trying to make the team. His steady play in all aspects of the game makes him a valuable asset to the defense.

“That’s what [McClain] is, he’s consistent,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s physical between the tackles. He’s solid in pass coverage.”

2. OT Oniel Cousins

The 2008 third-round draft choice has drawn the ire of many in his brief opportunities to play in his first two seasons, but this is a critical preseason—and season—for Cousins. With Jared Gaither’s status up in the air, physically and contractually, tonight will be a valuable first step for Cousins to alleviate concerns at the right tackle position and convince the coaching staff he can eventually be an NFL starter.

Cousins began training camp on the non-football illness list after having a procedure to remove a cyst in his throat earlier in the summer, but one wouldn’t know he only returned to the practice field a week ago by the way he’s played.

“I think what [Cousins] has done has been pretty amazing,” Harbaugh said. “He’s just made up so much ground in the last week that he’s practiced. He looks good, so he should play quite a bit [on Thursday].”

With Gaither still sidelined with back spasms and other tackles (Tony Moll, Ramon Harewood, and Stefan Rodgers) banged up, Cousins will receive extensive playing time against the Panthers.

3. CB Prince Miller

At 5-foot-8, the diminutive cornerback has listened to doubters throughout his football career. It didn’t stop Miller from making 31 career starts at Georgia and matching up against the best receivers the highly-competitive SEC had to offer.

Miller has struggled in camp against taller receivers such as Anquan Boldin and Demetrius Williams, but shows good athleticism and an impressive skill-set in special teams, a critical factor for any player on the roster bubble.

The rookie was away from camp for two days to witness the birth of his first child but has played the nickel and dime positions with the first-team defense, largely because of the team’s health issues in the secondary.

With Chris Carr likely out and Fabian Washington a game-time decision, Miller will likely man the nickel with the starting defense in the first quarter and play extensively when the starters are removed.

“We gave him a couple days off [to be in Georgia for his child’s birth], and he did have fresh legs [Tuesday],” Harbaugh said. “I think it helped him. He kind of had the little bounce in his step, but he’ll play a lot on Thursday night along with those other young guys.”

4. LB Albert McClellan

The Ravens scouting department manages to find an impressive “hybrid” on the rookie free agent list seemingly every year, and McClellan fits that description this summer. The defensive end-linebacker has performed admirably in Westminster, even picking off Troy Smith and returning it for a touchdown in a red zone drill.

It’s no secret McClellan faces an uphill battle to make the team with such a deep linebacker unit already in place, but the same was said about McClain in 2008 before the Syracuse rookie won a roster spot with big performances in the preseason.

McClellan was a three-time captain at Marshall and accumulated 19.5 sacks in his collegiate career as a defensive end, earning second team All-Conference USA honors as a senior and first-team honors as a junior. Even if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, McClellan figures to have a good chance to catch on elsewhere or make the developmental squad.

5. DT Lamar Divens

With the Ravens drafting defensive linemen Terrence Cody and Arthur Jones in April, the 343-pound Divens has become a forgotten man in a very deep group of defensive linemen. Durability is an issue with the third-year tackle, finishing the season on Injured Reserve in 2008 (shoulder) and spending the entire 2009 campaign on IR (shoulder).

Divens has impressed during training camp, constantly getting to the offensive backfield while playing on the second and third defensive units. With so many defensive tackles on the roster, he is a long-shot to stick with the Ravens, but a strong preseason improves his chances to catch on elsewhere.

He will receive extensive playing time in the second half.

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The Real Key to the Ravens Success

Posted on 11 August 2010 by bigbrad

There has been a lot of talk about what the Ravens have done in the offseason, as well as key personnel returning from injuries. The Ravens offense has been seriously upgraded due to the acquisition of wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth as well as the drafting of tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. Many people, including myself, are interested to see how Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington will progress with their knee injuries. These have been the hot topics leading up to the first preseason game of the season tomorrow night against the Carolina Panthers. Personally, I feel that there is a more important set of players who will dictate the Ravens success this season. That group of players is the Ravens offensive line.


Michael Oher. Ben Grubbs. Matt Birk. Marshal Yanda. Jared Gaither. These five guys are the most important pieces of this Ravens team. Throw in a few key back-ups in Oniel Cousins and Chris Chester, and you have a group of the most important guys on this Ravens roster.


When the likes of Mike Flynn, Jason Brown, Adam Terry, Edwin Mulitalo, and Jonathon Ogden departed a few season ago, I got nervous. Ravens fans got nervous. Baltimore was losing a core of guys who helped keep Kyle Boller alive. I remember hearing a lot of negative press about how the Ravens would be able to replace Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. But once again, Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office came through again.


Last season, Joe Flacco was sacked 36 times. That’s just over two sacks a game on our beloved quarterback. This was about average in the NFL last year. The team who got sacked the least was the Colts with 13 sacks, followed by the Titans, Patriots and Saints. There is an easy explanation for why the Titans sack total was so low, and that is because they ran the ball more than anyone else, which was a good idea since it got the ball in Chris Johnson’s hands. But look at the other three teams on this list. Now think of their quarterbacks. There is a reason that Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady are considered the best quarterbacks in the NFL. And their offensive lines are keeping them for being hit.


Not to mention, the Colts and the Saints played one another in the Super Bowl. What I am trying to say is that if the Ravens can cut down on sacks on Joe Flacco, then they have a better chance of going further. I’ll say it right here. If the Ravens offensive line gives up less than 20 sacks this year, then the Ravens will make it to the Super Bowl. If Flacco is only sacked once a game, then there is an extremely good chance that he will be healthier, which he had a problem with at the end of last season. And if he is healthy, then our passing offense will be remarkable, which will consequently open up the running game as well.


I hope to see a lot of the Ravens offense selected to the Pro Bowl this year. Just be sure to watch the offensive line to gauge this year’s Ravens success.

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Live from Westminster: Gaither, Carr likely out for preseason opener

Posted on 10 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — As the Ravens complete their last two-a-day before Thursday’s preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers, it was apparent the intensity level picked up even with a shells and shorts workout with no contact.

Ray Lewis and the starting defense jawed with offensive players during 11-on-11 drills as both sides prepare to face a different opponent across the line of scrimmage on Thursday night.

John Harbaugh shed some light on who we won’t see in the first preseason game, and there were no real surprises in what he said. Offensive tackle Jared Gaither missed his fifth straight day of practice as he continues to suffer from back spasms between his shoulder blades. With Gaither making the transition to the right side, there is much concern over the amount of time he’s missed during training camp.

“I don’t think he’ll be able to play because he hasn’t practiced enough,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know if the injury is going to hold him out, but it’d be hard for him to play with the little bit of practice he’s had.”

Cornerback Chris Carr missed his third straight day of practice after limping off the field with a left hamstring injury at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The starting corner is improving, but the Ravens are likely to hold him out of the preseason opener, leaving Travis Fisher likely to start at cornerback.

“Carr could play, it’s a matter of whether we decide to put him out there or not,” Harbaugh said.

Fabian Washington continues to increase his workload in practice, but his status will be a game-time decision on Thursday. Coming back from an ACL injury last season, Washington sat out practice on the new surface at M&T Bank Stadium as a precautionary measure. Considering the fragile state of the defensive backfield, one would think the Ravens play it safe with Washington, too.

“He’s ready to go, it’s just a matter of whether we want him to go,” Harbaugh said. “I think we’ll take him out there in pregame and see how much work we get done, and we’ll just decide. But we’re not going to push it, I can tell you that.”

A new question mark was created Tuesday morning when left guard Ben Grubbs walked off the field with an injury. While the injury was not specified, Harbaugh described it as “not major” but was unsure whether Grubbs would play against Carolina.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata returned to practice after being stricken with back spasms Monday. He expects to play in the preseason opener. Others returning to practice included offensive linemen Ramon Harewood and Stefan Rodgers and wide receiver Demetrius Williams. Cornerback Prince Miller was also back on the field after two days away to witness the birth of his daughter.

In addition to Carr and Gaither, defensive back Marcus Paschall and offensive linemen Tony Moll and Dan Sanders were also missing from the morning session on Tuesday. The four players remaining on the PUP list are running back Matt Lawrence, safety Ed Reed, cornerback Lardarius Webb, and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Stay right here throughout the day for updates (time-stamped below) and follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates right from the field. Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Tom Zbikowski, and Jameel McClain as well as Thyrl Nelson’s chat with Chris Chester immediately following morning practice!


1:25 p.m. — A couple highlight plays from the morning session included Donte’ Stallworth’s long touchdown catch from Marc Bulger, beating cornerback Cary Williams on the play. Stallworth has received more work with the second offense the last two days, but continues to be very impressive during training camp.

Receiver Justin Harper also caught two long touchdowns during passing drills, but we’ve seen that countless times over the last two summers in Westminster.

Early in the 11-on-11 session this morning, the Ravens worked on some trick plays including a reverse to Anquan Boldin, making it highly unlikely we ever actually see it in the regular season. If Cam Cameron does have some trick plays up his sleeve, we’re certainly not going to see them in a public forum at McDaniel College.

The special teams practice this afternoon gets underway at 2:00. Wednesday’s walk-through is closed to both the public and media.

12:45 p.m. — Linebacker Bart Scott might be a distant memory in Baltimore, but it appears the Ravens may have found a similar personality—at least off the field—at the inside linebacker position next to Ray Lewis. Jameel McClain has been the biggest surprise of training camp after leapfrogging  Tavares Gooden and Dannell Ellerbe for the starting inside linebacker job, albeit in early August.

McClain, a third-year former rookie free agent from Syracuse, spoke at the podium following practice and showed off a keen sense of humor to the Baltimore media. Formerly a special teams standout and occasional pass-rush specialist, the young linebacker is eager to showcase his skills in the starting defense.

“I knew I belonged [in football] the day I came out of my mother’s womb,” McClain said. “I was born to play this game. I’m born to go out there and hit somebody and play with a high intensity and a lot of rah-rah. It’s not like I came here wide-eyed like, ‘Man, I don’t deserve this.’ I understand that you have to work for everything in life. I’m my biggest critic and my biggest fan, so it’s for me to put in the work all the time.”

He credits a productive offseason with his strength and speed coaches as the best explanation for his heightened stature with the defense. McClain is also focusing exclusively at inside linebacker as opposed to several different positions in his first two seasons in Baltimore

“Just getting the opportunity to go out there and now knowing the defense and getting the chance to settle in and more so focusing on one or two positions has been able to slim down my load a little bit,” McClain said.

You can check out McClain’s entire interview at the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.

12:28 p.m. — Billy Cundiff won Tuesday’s battle against Shayne Graham in the kicking competition. Graham noticeably struggled, unofficially going 1-for-4 and missing from 35, 52, and 57 yards. His wide-left miss from 35 even drew the heckling of his teammates as one defensive player said, “Shayne, that was disgusting!”

Cundiff was 5-for-6 unofficially with successful tries from 46, 47, and 52 yards to his credit.

The two will alternate kicks for the preseason opener despite John Harbaugh initially saying on Monday they would each take a half against the Panthers.

“That’s what [special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg] wants to do,” said Harbaugh, who did not know which kicker would go first. “He feels like it will keep both of those guys in the game for the whole game and give them a fair amount of reps, so we’re looking forward to that.”

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Live from Westminster: Ngata leaves with back spasms, Ravens eye preseason debut

Posted on 09 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — With the preseason opener just three days away, the Ravens were back on the practice field Monday with an eye toward Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. Players practiced in shells and shorts for a lighter workout in preparation for the first game of the preseason.

Though the first preseason game will not include extensive playing time for the starters, coach John Harbaugh is anxious to get his first look at the roster in a live game situation.

“I think execution is the main thing,” said Harbaugh, who explained starters will play no longer than a quarter with some players playing even less. “We like our guys to be sharp, be on target, whether it’s blocking people, throwing the ball, on target with our pressures, on target on defense with our assignments. That’s probably the number one thing. We’d like to see our guys play hard, like to see them be physical. We want to play the [style] we want to play and start to establish that right off the bat if we can.”

Cornerback Chris Carr and offensive tackle Jared Gaither were again held out of practice, making it more likely they will not play on Thursday. Carr’s left thigh was wrapped as he watched practice on the field, though he indicated after practice the hamstring is improving.

Gaither continues to be “in limbo” with back spasms, according to Harbaugh. The team does not believe it to be serious, but the medical staff will perform another test to confirm the severity of the injury. Gaither has not participated fully in workouts since last Wednesday.

“We’ve just got to work through the spasms and get him out here, so we can practice,” Harbaugh said.

Perhaps an even bigger scare occurred during the morning session when defensive tackle Haloti Ngata took a helmet to the back and left the field. He suffered from some spasms as a result, but it is not considered to be a serious injury, according to Harbaugh.

“He should be fine.”

Cary Williams also left the field with an apparent injury, adding a new name to a laundry list of banged-up players in the secondary. He joins Carr, Marcus Paschal, K.J. Gerard, Lardarius Webb (PUP list – knee), and Ed Reed (PUP list – hip) as defensive backs dealing with injuries. Fabian Washington has practiced the last two days after sitting out Saturday’s practice on the new turf at M&T Bank Stadium.

With so many injuries already affecting the team’s depth at offensive tackle and cornerback, a major goal of the first preseason game simply will be remaining healthy.

“If something happens to a guy, he’s going to come out,” said Harbaugh, who plans to hold out several players already dealing with injuries. “Then, you basically hold your breath and you pray as far as the big injury, because there’s nothing you can do about that. Hopefully we can get through it. After the game, if we can say we got through it injury-free, that’s really a victory also.”

Check back right here for updates throughout the day (time-stamped below) and head to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, and Anquan Boldin as well as Dawan Landry’s post-practice conversation with Thyrl Nelson.


5:00 p.m. — The afternoon session wrapped up in just under an hour with the team practicing in shells and shorts.

Players not practicing included Haloti Ngata (back), Jared Gaither (back), Chris Carr (hamstring), Fabian Washington (knee), K.J. Gerard (hamstring), Demetrius Williams (undisclosed), Daniel Sanders (undisclosed), Stefan Rodgers (ankle), and Tony Moll (concussion).

Cornerback Cary Williams returned to practice despite leaving the field halfway through the morning session.

The highlight of the afternoon was a dropped interception by linebacker Jameel McClain, who proceeded to drop and do 10 push-ups as punishment. Despite the snafu, McClain is one of the biggest surprises of camp, as he continues to work next to Ray Lewis at inside linebacker with the starting defense.

The Ravens will be back on the field Tuesday for their last two-practice session prior to Thursday night’s preseason opener. Practices at 8:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (special teams only) are open to the public.

2:20 p.m. — The voting remains open on the question of whether the Ravens will keep their current fight song or adopt an updated version of the Baltimore Colts fight song, but it’s pretty apparent that Baltimore has made its choice.

As of 2:15 on Monday afternoon, 78 percent of voters had chosen the Colts tune as the new fight song.

Senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne says the organization is still deciding how to introduce the new (or old) fight song to the M&T Bank Stadium crowd on Thursday night. The gameday programs have already gone to print and will not include anything about the change in fight songs, according to Byrne.

2:10 p.m. — Thursday will provide the first legitimate test for Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham in a kicking competition that has been very even to this point. Unofficially, Cundiff was 7-for-7, which included kicks of 45, 50, and 51 yards. Graham was slightly worse, going 7-for-8 with a miss from 51 yards and a successful try from 45 yards.

John Harbaugh said each kicker will play a half, and the rotation will alternate for the remainder of the preseason schedule. It has not been determined who will kick in the first half. The four exhibition contests will carry the most weight in determining who will be the placekicker against the New York Jets on Sept. 13.

“I don’t think it’ll be everything, but we see them kick them in games, and that’s an environment, obviously, that matters,” Harbaugh said. “So, it probably has a little more weight.”

1:55 p.m. — Fabian Washington practiced for the second straight day after sitting out Saturday’s workout as a precautionary measure on the new turf at M&T Bank Stadium. Though he came off the Physically Unable to Perform list, the team continues to monitor his surgically-repaired knee and has given regular time off to the starting cornerback.

Monday morning’s workout looked to be a conscious effort to test Washington as he was thrown at repeatedly with mixed results.

Washington was flagged for pass interference while trying to cover receiver Mark Clayton early in an 11-on-11 drill and gave up a leaping touchdown to Marcus Smith in the corner of the end zone later in the drill. Later in practice, Washington deflected a ball right into the hands of Donte’ Stallworth for a long touchdown.

Despite the rough morning, Washington rebounded to break up a deep ball from Marc Bulger to Stallworth before the morning practice ended.

With Washington still sitting out some workouts and refraining from working out on the new surface at the stadium, it’s unknown whether he’ll play in Thursday’s preseason opener.

“We’ll have a few guys that we’ll hold out, just as a precautionary measure that we just don’t want to push through the game,” Harbaugh said about his plans for Thursday. “Guys that will normally play in the regular season will not play in this game, I’m sure.”

Washington would figure to be a strong candidate to fit into that category.

1:00 p.m. — Though Jared Gaither (back) and Chris Carr (hamstring) remain out with injuries, several Ravens returned to the practice field Monday morning including receiver Derrick Mason (knee), Tavares Gooden (undisclosed), K.J. Gerard (hamstring), David Hale (back), and Stefan Rodgers (ankle). The latter three appeared limited in the shells-and-shorts practice, but Mason and Gooden participated fully in the workout.

In addition to Gaither, the offensive line was without Ramon Harewood (both knees) and Tony Moll (concussion) at the tackle position.

Others missing from practice included defensive backs Marcus Paschal (leg) and Prince Miller (away for the birth of his child).

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Live from Westminster: Carr, Gooden sit out afternoon practice

Posted on 08 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Ravens were back on the practice field in Westminster with the “over-30” club sitting out the Sunday afternoon session. The remaining players practiced in shells and shorts with many players dealing with “soreness” after two weeks of camp workouts, according to coach John Harbaugh.

Cornerback Chris Carr did not practice after leaving the field with a hamstring injury Saturday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. He left the field before practice was over to dodge reporters’ questions, but Harbaugh does not consider the injury to be serious.

“It looks like [a short-term injury],” Harbaugh said. “[Carr] was out doing some things today, so he should be fine.”

Linebacker Tavares Gooden was a new absence from practice on Saturday afternoon despite downplaying the significance of him not practicing. The third-year linebacker would not comment on any injury, simply saying he was “good, just running around; that’s all.”

Gooden’s absence was labeled “precautionary” by Harbaugh, and he expects the linebacker to return to the practice field on Monday.

In addition to the veterans over 30—including Derrick Mason who bruised his knee during Saturday’s workout—Jared Gaither (back spasms), David Hale (undisclosed), Tony Moll (concussion), Stefan Rodgers (ankle), Marcus Paschal (leg), and K.J. Gerard (hamstring) joined Carr and Gooden as the others missing practice. Prince Miller was absent from practice to witness the birth of his daughter, according to his Twitter account (@Sheeeesh_Miller).

The afternoon practice focused on passing drills with safety Dawan Landry continuing to lead a patchwork secondary. The fifth-year player picked off Joe Flacco to continue a strong camp in which he’s delivered vicious hits and provided tight coverage in the defensive backfield. With Ed Reed continuing to work his way back from hip surgery and several cornerbacks hampered by injuries, Landry is being leaned on to provide leadership in the secondary.

He and Tom Zbikowski have excelled throughout training camp, helping to ease concerns at the safety position.

“[Landry] is the guy that’s probably been there the longest, maybe the most experienced guy back there now,” Harbaugh said. “I really feel good about our safeties. Our safeties, as a group, have done really well. The corners that have played have done well. I think the safeties have anchored us so far in camp.”

With so many corners missing time during training camp, it’s allowed Cary Williams to receive reps with the first-team defense, a golden opportunity if not for his off-field issues. The third-year player is suspended for the first two games of the season after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy during his time with the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens signed Williams from the Titans’ practice squad last November.

The suspension was announced the week before training camp began.

“He’s got to pay a consequence for a mistake that he made,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the way it is in the world, and he understands that. It’s going to be damaging to us and to him, but he’s got to move on from it. I think he’s matured quite a bit, even the time he’s been here with us, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh following Sunday afternoon’s practice at McDaniel College.

The Ravens will be back on the field for a Monday morning workout at 8:45 a.m. and another full-squad practice at 2:45 p.m. Don’t forget to tune to AM 1570 or streaming online at WNST.net for training camp updates from Westminster every hour on the :30s!

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Ravens notebook: Carr, Mason leave practice as record crowd attends

Posted on 07 August 2010 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A record crowd of 17,861 watched a Ravens training camp practice at M&T Bank Stadium, but they couldn’t have felt any better about the team’s cornerback problems after Saturday afternoon’s workout.

Cornerback Chris Carr, now a starter after the loss of Domonique Foxworth, left practice with an undisclosed injury, which appeared to be a hamstring issue. Carr would not comment on the injury, deferring questions to coach John Harbaugh.

“I’m not sure,” said Harbaugh when asked about the defensive back’s status. “I don’t have a report yet on that. I’m not sure.”

That clears things up.

Fellow starting cornerback Fabian Washington also sat out despite being dressed to practice. Washington has been in and out of practice over the last week as he continues to work his way back from an ACL injury a season ago. With both projected starters—along with Lardarius Webb who is still on the Physically Unable to Perform list—sidelined on Saturday, the Ravens had Travis Fisher and Cary Williams working with the starting defense.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason also left practice with what he described as a bruised knee. The 36-year-old missed two days of practice with a right ankle injury earlier this week before returning on Friday.

“I just banged my knee a little bit,” Mason said. “It wasn’t critical [that] I came back in.”

Mason iced the knee after leaving practice and expects to participate in the Ravens’ next workout on Sunday afternoon.

Gaither absent again

Offensive tackle Jared Gaither failed to practice for the second straight day as he continues to deal with back spams between his shoulder blades. The Ravens sent him to a back specialist, with the initial feedback indicating the injury is not serious. Gaither was limited in practice on Thursday before sitting out the last two days.

The right tackle, who lost approximately 30 pounds before training camp began, is having difficulty lining up in a three-point stance, according to Harbaugh.

“It’s just something he’s got to fight through,” Harbaugh said. “It’s unfortunate because he’s competing for that spot, and you’ve got to stack practices. That’s what the competition is all about.”

Despite Gaither’s tepid relationship with the organization and his desire for a new contract, Harbaugh stood by the tackle’s work ethic and desire.

“[Gaither’s] a hard worker. We just have to get him on the field and get him going and he’s going to be fine. That’s what we’ve got to try to do right now.”

Kicking Contenders

Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham moved the kicking competition to M&T Bank Stadium after mostly going kick for kick in their first week of practices in Westminster.

Cundiff was unofficially 7-for-9 on field goals while Graham was a masterful 10-for-10 on Saturday afternoon.

The battle has been extremely even to this point in camp, with both performing consistently unlike the up-and-down battle between Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano last summer.

“We know it’s going to be a tough decision,” Harbaugh said. “We just kind of put it on the back burner. We don’t have to make that decision yet, so we don’t want to. You see them everyday, they’re both kicking very well.”

Harbaugh expects teams to contact the Ravens later in the preseason in hopes of acquiring one of the two. The coach believes the decision will be a difficult one.

“My gut feeling is [the choice is] going to be a gut feeling.”

Walking Wounded

In addition to Carr, Mason, Washington, and Gaither, others not participating in the Saturday afternoon workout were guard David Hale (undisclosed), tackles Tony Moll (concussion) and Stefan Rodgers (ankle), defensive backs Marcus Paschal (leg) and K.J. Gerard (hamstring), and tight end Davon Drew (hamstring).

Running back Willis McGahee returned to practice after sitting out with swelling in his right knee on Friday.

The four players on the Physically Unable to Perform list (Webb, safety Ed Reed, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, and running back Matt Lawrence) did not participate.

Ayanbadejo told WNST.net there is still no timetable for his return from a torn quadriceps injury sustained last season.

Changes at M&T Bank

While rookies benefited most from the special practice at M&T Bank Stadium, young players and veterans alike had to get used to some changes at their home stadium.

This was the first time the Ravens have played on the new field turf installed in the spring. Initial feedback from players was positive, as veterans cited how much softer it was than the turf that had been used since 2003. Several players commented on how hot the turf felt to their feet, but a warm August day certainly contributed to that.

“When I first got on it, I wondered if it was going to be supportive enough, but it felt pretty good,” quarterback Joe Flacco said about the new playing surface. “Your feet were a little bit hotter than they are out in Westminster, but it was good. I enjoyed it.”

The fans in attendance also enjoyed the brand new high-definition video boards displaying a far crisper picture than the original screens.

“They were sweet,” Harbaugh said. “They looked very good. I caught myself looking up there every now and then.”

A New Tradition

The record crowd attending practice left a lasting impression on owner Steve Bisciotti and Harbaugh as both were pleased with the turnout and believe it will become an annual event in August.

“[Bisciotti] came out on the field there when we were doing one of our drills and he basically said, ‘This is a tradition now. We’re doing it because it was so good,'” Harbaugh said. “You felt it out there. It’s great for our team to get out there on the field, but it’s so good for the fans.”

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Live from Westminster: Veteran CB Harris to IR, Mason and Birk return to practice

Posted on 06 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Walt Harris era has ended before the first preseason game.

The veteran cornerback, who initially rejected a veteran-minimum offer from the Ravens before signing a deal in late June, was placed on Injured Reserve to make room for newly-signed free agent rookie cornerback Chris Hawkins. The rookie from LSU was most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It was previously reported that Harris had been released, but it’s likely he was designated for IR with him suffering from Achilles tendon and knee issues.

Harris was in and out of practice over the first two weeks of training camp as he was dealing with an Achilles tendon issue. The 36-year-old missed all of last season with the San Francisco 49ers due to a torn ACL.

“Walt was really disappointed that he wasn’t able to get healthy and practice,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That was the toughest thing.”

Harbaugh left open the possibility of Harris return should he be able to get healthy, but the two sides did not discuss a return when the Ravens informed Harris of the decision.

Receiver Derrick Mason returned to the practice field Friday morning after being sidelined two days with a right ankle injury. Mason did not appear limited running on the ankle and participated fully in 11-on-11 and individual drills.

The Physically Unable to Perform list shrunk to four on Friday as center Matt Birk returned to the practice field. The 13-year veteran had an elbow procedure in the offseason and had not practiced over the first two weeks of camp. Birk was so excited to return that he was the first lineman on the field Friday morning.

“Great to see [Bird] and [Mason] back,” Harbaugh said after the morning workout. “[Mason]looked 100 percent and [Birk] really looked 100 percent too. I’m sure [Birk] will be a little sore because it’s his first practice, but it was good to see him in there.”

Safety Ed Reed (hip), cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps), and running back Matt Lawrence (knee) remain on the PUP list.

Tackle Jared Gaither continues to suffer from cramps and spasms between his shoulder blades, according to Harbaugh. The right tackle missed Friday morning’s practice and was limited in both workouts on Thursday. Gaither was carted off the field last Friday with what was described as back “cramps” and missed four straight practices before returning to the field on Monday.

“[Gaither] just can’t get into his stance and really play right now, so we’ve got to work that out somehow,” Harbaugh said.

The other notable absence was running back Willis McGahee, who is dealing with some swelling in his knee. Harbaugh described it as a “precautionary” move to hold McGahee out of practice.

Others absent from practice were offensive tackle Tony Moll (concussion), cornerback K.J Gerard (hamstring), David Hale (undisclosed), and Stefan Rodgers (leg).

Check back right here for updates (time-stamped) throughout the day, and don’t forget to go to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh and Derrick Mason as well as quarterback Marc Bulger’s conversation with Thyrl Nelson.


5:45 p.m. — Just a few notes to pass along from the afternoon’s special teams practice.

Defensive back Marcus Paschal limped off the field halfway through the workout, appearing to favor his right leg. He did not return.

Defensive back K.J. Gerard was a non-participant again as he continues to recover from a hamstring issue.

The team primarily worked on the punt units, but we didn’t see the towels, trashcans, and volleyballs as we did on Wednesday. What a shame.

The Ravens will practice at M&T Bank Stadium at noon on Saturday. Admission is free and parking will only be $5. Remember, if you cannot make it down to the Purple Palace, we’ll have the Purple Haze chat open for a special training camp edition, getting underway at 12:00 p.m.

1:48 p.m. — Rookie Ramon Harewood continues to get plenty of reps with the first-team offense with Jared Gaither struggling to stay healthy in the early stages of camp. Drafted in the sixth round, Harewood is considered a likely candidate for the practice squa, but his performance has impressed coaches thus far.

“He’s playing both sides, he’s taking every snap, and he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t make the same mistake twice,” Harbaugh said. “He’s really a smart player for a guy that has very little football experience historically. He has a long way to go, but he’s moving pretty quickly.”

1:45 p.m. — After Billy Cundiff struggled on Thursday, Shayne Graham faced his own difficulties Friday morning, missing kicks from 51 and 48 yards. Graham missed another from 64 yards, but we’ll excuse the veteran for not making what would break an NFL record for longest field goal.

Graham connected from 35 and 44 yards.

Overall, the offense got the best of the defense during 11-on-11 passing drills with Anquan Boldin pulling in a nice catch thrown from Joe Flacco as Fabian Washington attempted to defend.

Troy Smith tossed a touchdown pass to rookie tight end Dennis Pitta who continues to impress along with fellow rookie Ed Dickson at the tight end position.

The defensive highlights included newly-acquired cornerback Doug Dutch nearly picking off Flacco during passing drills.

Defensive back Marcus Paschal made a tremendous breakup on an attempted deep ball from Flacco to Boldin down the middle of the field. Paschal also picked off Flacco on Thursday, as he tries to distinguish himself from a group of young players trying to position themselves for a roster spot in a thin group of cornerbacks.

12:45 p.m. — Despite injuring his finger taking a snap on Thursday morning, backup quarterback Marc Bulger practiced with the last two fingers on his right hand taped. He did not take any snaps under center, but his throws showed good zip throughout the morning session.

“It’s a little sore,” Bulger told WNST.net after practice. “It was a little scary [Thursday]. I think it will be a day-to-day thing, but fortunately it wasn’t broken.”

Bulger said it’s something that’s happened to him often throughout his career, and it comes with the territory of playing quarterback.

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Live from Westminster: Over-30 club given day off as Ehrlich visits practice

Posted on 05 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — It was another day of training camp with another celebrity sighting at McDaniel College.

While the hoopla from Wednesday’s visit from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Hall of Famer John Madden was absent, former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich attended practice with his family. Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Senior VP of Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne joked they expected Gov. Martin O’Malley to visit on Friday after seeing Ehrlich in Westminster.

As for the morning practice, it was an “over-30” day as veterans 30 or older were given the morning off as has become the custom with Harbaugh’s camps. This group included Todd Heap, Derrick Mason (ankle), Walt Harris, Travis Fisher, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg, and Ray Lewis. Safety Ed Reed (hip), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quad), and center Matt Birk (elbow) would also fall into this group, but the three remain on the PUP list.

Quarterback Marc Bulger provided a scare when he injured a finger taking a snap in the morning session and went inside with a member of the training staff. However, Bulger returned to the field and the injury is not considered serious, according to Harbaugh.

“He took a snap on the finger,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nothing major; it’s not broken. He should be fine.”

Tackle Oniel Cousins (throat surgery) returned from the non-football illness list to practice for the first time on Thursday morning. The third-year tackle had a cyst removed from his throat a few weeks before training camp.

The Ravens still have five players on the physically unable to perform list, which includes Reed, Birk, Ayanbadejo, running back Matt Lawrence (knee), and cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee).

Stay right here for more updates throughout the day (time-stamped below) and check out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Billy Cundiff, and Shayne Graham as well as quarterback Troy Smith’s conversation with Thyrl Nelson immediately following the morning practice.


5:25 p.m. — The afternoon practice was largely a walk-through as players practiced in shells and shorts in the sweltering heat of Westminster. The “over-30” club against sat out with other starters, including receiver Anquan Boldin, taking it easy during the afternoon session. Cornerback Fabian Washington did not practice as he continues to receive periodic rest.

The Ravens will be back on the field Friday morning for an 8:45 workout. The afternoon session will be a special teams practice at 2:00.

1:40 p.m. — This nugget of information brought a smile to my face as the Ravens are conducting a vote of whether to adapt the Baltimore Colts fight song (with new lyrics) as their new fight song.

As a third-generation Baltimore football fan, I cannot endorse this move enough as the Ravens fight song has never caught on in the Charm City as fans continue to hold the old Colts song in high esteem.

Here’s the link at BaltimoreRavens.com: http://blogs.baltimoreravens.com/2010/08/05/vote-on-the-ravens-fight-song/

1:35 p.m. — Joe Flacco has had a fantastic start to training camp in Westminster, but this morning was not the third-year quarterback’s finest outing as he tossed several interceptions during passing drills and 11-on-11 sessions.

Fabian Washington dropped a sure interception on a pass intended for Dennis Pitta in the end zone, but free safety Tom Zbikowski—who continues to be an early star in Westminster—capitalized on his opportunity to intercept Flacco, taking it to the end zone for a touchdown.

Following the play, we saw our most entertaining celebration of the summer as Chris Carr placed the football down and Zbikowski attempted a short field goal. It was no good.

Amusing as it was, we won’t have to worry about Zbikowski tossing his name into the kicking competition after that display.

Flacco was also picked off by cornerback Marcus Paschal in the morning workout.

12:50 p.m. — We saw a rare hiccup in an otherwise tight kicking competition as Billy Cundiff struggled, missing kicks from 32, 43, and 48 yards unofficially. Cundiff converted his other attempts including a 35-yarder during 11-on-11 periods.

Cundiff and veteran Shayne Graham have both performed well in Westminster, unlike last summer when Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano struggled mightily for periods of time during camp.

It is believed Graham has the inside track on the kicking job, but both kickers are putting themselves in good position for a job, whether with the Ravens or another NFL team.

“I feel for the most part I’ve been hitting the ball well,” Graham said after Thursday morning’s workout. “I think I’ve had one day when I wasn’t happy with the way things ended up. That’s going to happen.”

Graham praised the Ravens coaching staff for simulating more game situations than other teams he’s played for in the past. Of course, the four preseason games will create a clearer picture in the competition than practice kicks sailing through the uprights at McDaniel all summer.

12:40 p.m. — Expectations are high for rookie tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta after the Ravens selected the two in the third and fourth rounds respectively. Both have shined at times, but Dickson has played exceptionally well, catching nearly every ball thrown his way and created separation in routes against linebackers and safeties.

Todd Heap is still on top of the depth chart, but Dickson could conceivably push the veteran for playing time as the season progresses and he grows more comfortable in Cam Cameron’s offense.

“You try not to put an expectation on a guy because it’s usually limiting,” Harbaugh said of Dickson. “You say, ‘This guy’s better than we thought he was going to be,’ but gosh, we hoped he was going to be great. Ed’s played really well, but he’s got to sustain it. It’s tough. We’re just starting camp, basically, so he’s got a lot of work to do.”

Dickson has worked with the first team in two-tight end sets as well as spelling veteran Todd Heap on occasion.

12:30 p.m. — After a slow start to the morning workout, the team conducted a fairly extensive live session with most the first-team units going against the second-team units.

At one point, after the second-team offense ran successfully against the starting defense on successive plays, Harbaugh was very unhappy and let his defense know about it.

“That was our first defense getting their [butts] kicked!” shouted Harbaugh after another first-down run during the live session. “That was our second-team offensive line!”

Needless to say, Harbaugh wasn’t too thrilled when he was asked about it after practice, citing his preference not to discuss what’s said on the field.

“You don’t see a lot of things,” Harbaugh said. “That’s part of coaching a football team. We’ve got a lot of guys working hard. We’re a tight-knit group and that’s the way it’s got to be. [Reporters] don’t need to know everything.”

12:20 p.m. — The Ravens worked out a few cornerbacks after practice with only Chris Hawkins from LSU (and formerly of Jacksonville) confirmed. Whether or not the Ravens choose to sign any of these nondescript guys, it won’t do anything to address concerns at the position.

12:15 p.m. — Several other players were limited during practice including offensive tackles Michael Oher and Jared Gaither. Oher had his right ankle taped at two different points during practice and was limited in the latter portion of the workout.

Gaither participated in individual drills but did not participate during 11-on-11 activity as he stood on the field with his helmet off. Of course, Gaither previously missed two days of practice with what was labeled “cramps” in his back last weekend.

Offensive lineman Stefan Rodgers also limped off the field during practice. He had previously missed time after suffering a lower leg injury.

Defensive back K.J. Gerard (hamstring) and tackle Tony Moll (concussion) failed to practice again.

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Live from Westminster: Mason injures ankle, doesn’t appear serious

Posted on 03 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Ravens received another injury scare as veteran receiver Derrick Mason was helped off the field with a sprained right ankle in the morning practice. The injury occurred on a hit from strong safety Dawan Landry.

“It just looks like a sprained ankle right now,” said Harbaugh, who had not received a report from the training staff at the conclusion of practice. “At this stage there’s no timetable [for a return] as of yet.”

The injury is not believed to be serious, as Mason was seen walking with a slight limp through the team hotel. The ankle was taped, but there was no splint or walking boot.

There were no other new injuries to report from the Tuesday morning session, but cornerback Chris Carr remains out with a sore back.

Check back right here for other injury updates and news from the morning session (time-stamped below) and head to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Jared Gaither, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata. Fabian Washington also checked in from the practice field with Thyrl Nelson!


3:23 p.m. — K.J. Gerard is again absent from the afternoon session as he’s battling a hamstring issue. Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood is also missing from practice with what’s believed to be a knee issue. He missed a large portion of the OTA schedule with tissue damage in the right knee and has worn a sleeve on his right leg during training camp.

Fabian Washington is also sitting out the afternoon session. He participated fully this morning, so it could just be a scheduled afternoon off.

1:45 p.m. — The Ravens will hold another full-team practice this afternoon at 2:45 p.m. Glenn Clark will be on the scene as I continue my doubleheader of coverage this evening from Oriole Park at Camden Yards for Buck Showalter’s managerial debut.

Tune to AM 1570 WNST or online at WNST.net for hourly updates on the :30’s throughout the day.

1:35 p.m. — The first half of practice was uneventful as the players predominantly participated in positional drills.

Jared Gaither lined up primarily at left tackle with the starting offense as Michael Oher played the right side. The two switched it up toward the end of the morning practice, but I would expect plenty of this throughout training camp.

The fourth-year tackle from Maryland looks noticeably thinner as he’s lost approximately 25 pounds in the offseason, his current weight at 311 pounds. John Harbaugh acknowledged the team wants Gaither to gain some weight but will not specify an exact number.

“I thought he’d come in a little heavier than he did, but I also know we’ve got time to get him right where he needs to be. I think it’s got to be a collaboration with all of us—coaches, trainers, weight staff, and [Gaither]—and get him where he needs to be to start the season.”

We also saw a minor scrum during 11-on-11 drills as offensive tackle Joe Reitz mixed it up with defensive end Paul Kruger, but order was quickly restored.

Highlights of 11-on-11 red zone drills included a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to a wide-open Derrick Mason before the receiver left with a sprained ankle.

With Chris Carr out of practice, Travis Fisher lined up as a first-team corner opposite Fabian Washington with the starting defense.

In the brief live period, Ray Rice snapped off a 13-yard touchdown against the starting defense in what of the highlights of the morning.

1:20 p.m. — Cornerbacks Chris Carr (back) and K.J. Gerard (unknown) were again absent from practice this morning. Gerard missed Monday afternoon’s special teams practice as well.

The team remains thin on the offensive line as Tony Moll (undisclosed), Matt Birk (elbow – PUP list), and Oniel Cousins (throat – non-football illness list) all missed practice.

Others not practicing included running back Matt Lawrence (knee – PUP list), tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), safety Ed Reed (hip – PUP list), cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee – PUP list), and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quad – PUP list).

Newly-acquired cornerback Doug Dutch practiced on Tuesday morning. He previously spent time on the Redskins’ practice squad and was obtained in the trade for quarterback John Beck.

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Live from Westminster: Gaither’s health remains mystery, will have tests done Monday

Posted on 01 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — Despite assurances that Jared Gaither was merely suffering from back cramps after being carted off the field Friday afternoon, the offensive tackle was again absent on Sunday morning as his immediate status remains unknown.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh added no clarity to the situation but disclosed Gaither will have blood work done and the medical staff will run the tackle through a series of tests on Monday.

“I’d like to be able to tell you what it is,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know.”

Gaither arrived training camp weighing 311 pounds, more than 20 pounds lighter than the weight at which he played last season. This was not the wishes of the coaching staff and Gaither’s rationale for dropping so much weight is a mystery to Harbaugh.

“[Gaither] made a decision [to drop weight],” the Ravens coach said after Sunday morning’s practice. “He’s working out on his own. It’s not like he was around. He made the decision to go lighter. He can explain to you why.”

You can hear more from Harbaugh in addition to Derrick Mason, Donte’ Stalloworth, and Todd Heap in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right now!

Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below) throughout the afternoon.


10:25 p.m. — I’m a little late with this one, but the Ravens have inked offensive tackle Devin Tyler to a contract after placing cornerback Domonique Foxworth on Injured Reserve. Tyler is from Forestville, Md. and attended Temple. He’s 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds.

With tackles Jared Gaither (back), Oniel Cousins (throat), Stefan Rodgers (calf/ankle), and Tony Moll (undisclosed) all not practicing, Tyler is needed to have another camp body at the position.

Tyler, along with two others, tried out for the team following the Sunday morning practice.

2:05 p.m. — It’s no secret the Ravens are on the prowl for cornerback help and have spoken to a few cornerbacks in recent days. Names linked to the Ravens include Fred Smoot and even former Browns corner Anthony Henry.

As I reported on Friday, the Ravens have had discussions with Frank Walker, who spent the last two seasons in Baltimore. Though Walker struggled at times and was often chastised by fans and media alike, he has the advantage of being very familiar with the Ravens’ system. John Harbaugh confirmed after Sunday morning’s practice that Walker has had conversations with other teams as well.

“Sure, [Walker] would have a shot,” Harbaugh said. “You know, [he] knows our scheme, he’s got some options, teams he’s talking to right now, but he’s one guy of a lot of guys we’re looking at.”

In an interview I conducted with Walker a couple weeks ago on AM 1570 WNST.net (you can find it in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault), he reemphasized his love for the organization and how he’d love to come back to play with the Ravens.

1:40 p.m. — Donte’ Stallworth continues to impress in the early days of camp and figures to be the No. 3 receiver if he can stay healthy and fight off former starter Mark Clayton.

Expectations are obviously high for the passing offense, but Stallworth is no stranger to playing with prolific offenses. He was a member of the record-breaking offense of the 2007 New England Patriots that included Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Jabar Gaffney at wide receiver.

While Stallworth isn’t ready to proclaim the Baltimore receivers a more impressive unit than those Patriots, he sees vast potential in what the Ravens can accomplish in the passing game this season.

“This offense is capable of that game kind of season [that the 2007 Patriots had],” said Stallworth when asked about the potential of this receiving corps. “We have a lot of new guys here that are working together and we’re just trying to build on each other and work together and try to put together that same kind of situation.”

1:30 p.m. — With your always exciting kicking update for the day, Billy Cundiff connected from 32, 41, and 55 yards. He missed wide right from 45 yards.

I knew you were waiting on the edge of your seat for that one.

Jameel McClain continues to receive the large majority of reps at inside linebacker next to Ray Lewis with Tavares Gooden and Dannell Ellerbe in the mix as well. We all assumed the latter two would be the ones battling for the spot next to No. 52, but McClain continues to go about his business and worked extremely hard in the offseason, according to his coaches.

1:25 p.m. — Expectations are soaring for the Baltimore offense after the acquisitions of Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, and Sunday morning’s workout was a perfect example why.

Joe Flacco threaded the needle repeatedly, torching defensive backs even when they blanketed receivers. During a red zone session, Flacco connected with Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta for touchdowns and threw a beautiful over-the-shoulder ball to fullback Le’Ron McClain, who was covered perfectly on the play.

Of course, Flacco’s performance on August 1 means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but for one morning only, he looked like the elite quarterback many hope—or expect—him to become in 2010.

12:40 p.m. — My apologies for the lack of updates so far. Members of the media just attended the NFL Rules session with officials at training camp this weekend. I’ll write about the rules changes in the near future and how it might impact the NFL in 2010.

Tight end Todd Heap returned to practice after passing his conditioning test and being removed from the non-football illness list this morning. He was suffering from swollen tonsils, a condition he described as “knocking him out.”

In addition to Gaither missing practice, cornerback Fabian Washington sat out the morning workout as he continues to work his way back into training camp mode. Offensive tackle Tony Moll and veteran cornerback Walt Harris were also sidelined.

With Gaither and Moll out, Joe Reitz took the first-team reps at right tackle, but the Ravens have signed offensive lineman Daniel Sanders to add another body to a banged-up unit. The team also worked out a few offensive linemen after the morning workout on Sunday.

As for the players currently on the PUP list, there were no changes Sunday morning.

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