BALTIMORE — Despite a light crowd at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday, there was no shortage of chippy behavior as the Ravens completed their most physical and heated practice of the summer to this point.
Upwards of a half-dozen scuffles took place as even the mild-mannered Dennis Pitta and Joe Flacco got into heated exchanges with rookie inside linebacker Kamalei Correa during 11-on-11 team drills. The veteran tight end took exception to Correa’s physicality through the end of a play while Flacco exchanged words with the 2016 second-round pick after he delivered a big pop to veteran wide receiver Mike Wallace a couple plays later.
“Normally, I don’t have a lot of reasons to fight people, but I felt like there was a reason,” said Pitta, who added that he hadn’t gotten in a training camp scrum since his college days. “Without going into detail, I think there was some after-the-whistle stuff that wasn’t necessary. Me and K.C. already talked about it, so we’re good.”
In the skirmish, Pitta suffered a sprained finger that will keep him sidelined for a short time, but he downplayed the severity of the injury.
The tipping point of the extracurricular activity occurred later in the practice session when outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith took a swing at offensive lineman Ryan Jensen, prompting head coach John Harbaugh to send both players to the sideline. Harbaugh said he liked the physicality and spirit on display throughout the practice, but there’s a balance between competing until the end of the play and doing something to jeopardize your team in a real game.
“You have to know where to draw the line,” Harbaugh said. “It is between the lines. It is between the whistles and between your ears. That’s where the game is played. You understand that is where the physicality happens — between the whistles. You have to know when to walk away, and you have to be smart.”
Other players involved in altercations included defensive linemen Lawrence Guy, Bronson Kaufusi, and Trevon Coley and offensive tackles De’Ondre Wesley and Stephane Nembot.
New grass receives good reviews
The new natural grass surface at M&T Bank Stadium was given its first real test on Monday night.
With the Ravens set to play on natural grass at the stadium for the first time since 2002, Harbaugh and countless players were pleased with the new field after the decision was made to abandon the artificial turf field at the end of last season. The Ravens will also change up their field paint design, replacing the midfield shield logo with the primary bird logo that adorns their helmets. One end zone will be painted with the word “Baltimore” and the other will have “Ravens.”
(Field graphic courtesy of BaltimoreRavens.com)
The shield logo had been painted at midfield since the 2000 season.
Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and wide receiver Michael Campanaro returned to action after receiving Sunday off. Cornerback Will Davis was the only new absence for the evening workout.
Players still absent from practice included wide receivers Chris Moore (foot), Breshad Perriman (knee), and Steve Smith (Achilles), running backs Kenneth Dixon (knee), Trent Richardson (knee), and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), cornerback Maurice Canady, linebackers Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring), and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (ribs).