OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Entering his second season with higher expectations, Ravens wide receiver Michael Campanaro instead finds himself in an all-too-familiar place.
The 2014 seventh-round pick suffered a partially-torn quadriceps in the team’s first voluntary organized team activity practice on Wednesday and will be sidelined for the rest of the spring. Campanaro was limited to just four regular-season games in his rookie campaign in large part due to a hamstring issue.
“I think there’s a slight tear in there,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It won’t require surgery, but he probably is out for the rest of this time here. No one is more disappointed or frustrated with it than Camp. He has been working hard, so he’ll just have to get that right and be ready for training camp.”
Expected to compete with Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown for the No. 3 wide receiver spot behind veteran Steve Smith and 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman, Campanaro is also a leading candidate to contribute in the return game following the offseason departure of specialist Jacoby Jones. He caught seven passes for 102 yards and a touchdown in the 2014 regular season before making four catches for 39 yards in the AFC divisional playoff game against New England.
Campanaro’s absence could open the door for rookie free agent DeAndre Carter, who has turned a few heads in this very early stage of the spring. Albeit at the FCS level, the 5-foot-9 Sacramento State product caught 99 passes for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns during his senior season and was projected by some to be a late-round draft pick.
“I like [that] he’s hungry,” veteran wide receiver Steve Smith said. “I’m biased [since] he’s a West Coast guy. I just love his attitude. I see a young Randall Cobb in him, but I think he can play inside or outside. I’m excited to watch him play.”
Jimmy Smith “ahead of schedule”
One of the more encouraging signs of the first OTA workout open to media was the sight of cornerback Jimmy Smith participating in many drills.
The fifth-year defensive back signed a four-year, $41 million extension last month after seeing his 2014 season cut short by a Lisfranc injury in late October. Smith wasn’t a full participant, but he took part in several 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills throughout Thursday’s practice.
“I saw a little competitive streak today,” Harbaugh said. “I tried to remind him he has the red [injury] jersey. He won’t put it on. He just has it tucked in his belt right there. That tells you where his mind is. But so far, so good. He’s not full speed, but he’s out there working hard, and he’s probably ahead of schedule.”
Linebacker C.J. Mosley (wrist surgery) did some individual and special-teams work while continuing to wear a protective cast on his left arm, but he did not take part in full team drills. Cornerback Asa Jackson (knee) was participating fully.
The most surprising scene of the day was safety Terrence Brooks (knee) suited up and doing some light running. After Brooks suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee last December, the Ravens said weeks ago that he’s expected to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, but Harbaugh said the second-year safety is making good progress.
Veterans and rookies absent
A number of veteran players were missing from Thursday’s voluntary OTA, but the Ravens were also without three of their top draft picks because of an NFL Players Association event in Los Angeles.
Perriman, second-round tight end Maxx Williams, and fourth-round running back Javorius “Buck” Allen were not present while undrafted rookie center Nick Easton and fifth-round tight end Nick Boyle were also missing due to their respective colleges still being in session. Other than the initial rookie minicamp, a first-year player is not allowed to participate in OTAs until after his school concludes its current semester.
The Ravens were also missing their entire starting offensive line as center Jeremy Zuttah (hip surgery) and right tackle Rick Wagner (foot) aren’t ready to practice while veterans Eugene Monroe, Marshal Yanda, and Kelechi Osemele were not on the field.
Other veterans missing from Thursday’s voluntary practice were linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Albert McClellan, cornerback Lardarius Webb, and defensive end Chris Canty. Second-year defensive end Brent Urban was away attending his grandfather’s funeral.
Campanaro and injured rookie cornerback Julian Wilson (leg) were also absent as the latter was waived-injured on Thursday and would revert to injured reserve if he isn’t claimed.
Pitta on his own
Dennis Pitta practiced on a limited basis, catching some passes and doing some agility work on his own for the first half of the session.
The sixth-year tight end watched team drills for the rest of practice as it remains unknown whether he will be able to play this season. Pitta’s $4 million salary for 2015 is guaranteed, but he still hopes to return to football despite suffering catastrophic right hip injuries in each of the last two seasons.
Defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan were among the best players on the field Thursday as they exploited a patchwork first-team offensive line missing all five starters. Both appeared to be in good shape and repeatedly won battles against guards Robert Myers and Marcel Jones.
Regularly scrutinized for his conditioning at this time of the year, linebacker Courtney Upshaw appeared to be in relatively good shape as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.
Signed to the 53-man roster late last season, defensive tackle Casey Walker drew Harbaugh’s anger for tackling rookie running back Terrence Magee in non-contact 11-on-11 drills. Several minutes later, the 340-pound Walker mixed it up with offensive lineman Ryan Jensen, but no punches were thrown as order was quickly restored.
The highlight play of the day was an interception returned for a touchdown by rookie linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who leaped high in the air to pick off a pass from quarterback Matt Schaub. In the veteran backup’s defense, he was trying to recover after taking a poor shotgun snap.
Both Schaub and starter Joe Flacco were erratic during Thursday’s practice, missing several open targets as the Ravens continue to adjust to new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.
Baltimore will conclude its first week of OTAs on Friday and will pick with Week 2 on Tuesday.