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Ravens continue trimming roster down to 75

Posted on 26 August 2012 by Luke Jones

After news broke that they had waived veteran kicker Billy Cundiff earlier Sunday, the Ravens continued trimming their preseason roster from 90 players down to 75.

The most notable of the eight other players to be waived Sunday was tight end Davon Drew, who was a 2009 fifth-round pick of the Ravens but never established himself as a legitimate NFL player in Baltimore. Drew entered training camp as the favorite to win the third tight end job behind Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. However, he failed to take advantage of increased reps after the two tight ends went down with injuries this summer and was supplanted by veteran tight end Billy Bajema on the totem pole.

The Ravens also announced they had waived wide receivers Devin Goda and Patrick Wiliams, offensive lineman Addison Lawrence, center Cecil Newton, cornerback Jordan Maybin, long snapper Patrick Scales, and quarterback Chester Stewart.

Newton is the brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

The roster currently stands at 81 players and must be down to 75 by 4 p.m. Monday.

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Cutdown day live updates: Ravens trimming to 53

Posted on 03 September 2011 by Luke Jones

***Stay right here for updates throughout the day as the Ravens form their 53-man roster for the start of the regular season. Follow us on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the WNST Text Service for all updates sent directly to your mobile device.***

3:10 p.m. — Three hours ahead of the 6 p.m. deadline, the Ravens have announced their remaining cuts, which include QB Hunter Cantwell, FB Ryan Mahaffey, C Jason Murphy, CB Talmadge Jackson, DT Bryan Hall, LS Patrick Scales, OT Andre Ramsey, S Mana Silva, LB Chavis Williams, CB Josh Victorian, LB Josh Bynes, CB Danny Gorrer, and WR James Hardy.

This means the Ravens have decided to keep — for now — rookie defensive end Michael McAdoo and inebackers Jason Phillips and Albert McClellan.

The roster currently has 53 players, which is a bit peculiar with David Reed’s spot not counting against the roster for Week 1. However, it’s of little consequence with the Ravens expected to sign a veteran backup for quarterback Joe Flacco.

2:11 p.m. — By my count, the Ravens have cleared 14 players from the roster, meaning there are 12 unaccounted for to get down to 54 players (David Reed’s spot won’t count in the opener).

The following players are no longer on the roster:

WR Marcus Smith
WR Brandon Jones
RB Damien Berry
RB Jalen Parmele
TE Davon Drew
TE Johdrick Morris
C Tim Barnes
G/C Justin Boren
OT Ramon Harewood (placed on IR – ankle)
S Nate Williams
LB Tavares Gooden
LB Prescott Burgess
DT Derek Simmons
DT Lamar Divens

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1:49 p.m. — After learning rookie receiver LaQuan Williams had made the team, it spelled possible bad news for Marcus Smith. The fourth-year receiver has been cut by the Ravens, according to MASN.

The Ravens have also cleared another roster spot by placing offensive tackle Ramon Harewood on injured reserve with an ankle injury, according to Scout.com.

1:30 p.m. — Rookie cornerback Chykie Brown just informed me via text message that he has made the 53-man roster. The Ravens liked his talent, but there was doubt whether they would ultimately be able to keep him with such a deep group of cornerbacks ahead of him.

1:16 p.m. — Rookie running back Damien Berry has been released and is a possible candidate for the practice squad, according to Scout.com.

With Parmele already gone and Berry joining him, it appears the Ravens will have a total of four running backs (Ray Rice, Vonta Leach, Ricky Williams, and Anthony Allen) when they announce the departure of rookie fullback Ryan Mahaffey.

12:49 p.m. — The names are still trickling in as the Ravens have cut interior offensive lineman Justin Boren, defensive tackle Derek Simmons and veteran receiver Brandon Jones, according to Scout.com. The latter two were not in serious consideration for a roster spot.

I thought Boren might initially sneak on the roster before the Ravens add a backup quarterback or possibly a veteran interior lineman, but the former Ohio State lineman is a prime candidate for the practice squad.

12:12 p.m. — As we hit lunchtime, here’s the recap of what we know so far regarding the Ravens’ cuts:

DT Lamar Divens (first reported by WNST.net)
LB Prescott Burgess
LB Tavares Gooden
RB Jalen Parmele
TE Davon Drew
TE Johdrick Morris
C Tim Barnes
S Nate Williams

That leaves 18 cuts unaccounted for as the Ravens have to trim down to 54 players (David Reed will not count against the roster for Week 1).

12:01 p.m. — Defensive tackle Lamar Divens has been released, as first reported by WNST.net.

WNST’s Glenn Clark can also confirm that former Maryland wide receiver LaQuan Williams has made the 53-man roster, making plenty of local fans happy. Williams may be in the plans as a punt returner as well as the kick returner for Week 1 with David Reed’s suspension.

11:54 a.m. — As we await more difficult decisions on a number of bubble players, Scout.com reports the Ravens have released rookie tight end Johdrick Morris and rookie safety Nate Williams. Neither player was in consideration for a roster spot.

Morris’ release means the Ravens are down to three tight ends

11:13 a.m. — It’s important to point out the Ravens only have to get down to 54 players today. With David Reed suspended for the regular-season opener for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, the second-year receiver will not count against the 53-man roster.

With Gooden, Burgess, Parmele, Barnes, and Drew already waived, that means the Ravens must release 21 more players to get down to 54.

11:04 a.m. — The Ravens have decided to forgo a potential trade and will release linebacker Tavares Gooden, according to Scout.com. He was on the roster bubble after falling behind Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, and Brendon Ayanbadejo on the depth chart at the inside linebacker spot next to Ray Lewis.

10:43 a.m. — Scout.com is reporting the Ravens have released running back Jalen Parmele. This means rookie running back Anthony Allen is all but guaranteed a roster spot after impressing nearly everyone during the preseason. The Ravens simply couldn’t risk exposing him to the open market in trying to stash him away on the practice squad.

I thought it was possible Parmele might be spared for Week 1 with kick returner David Reed suspended for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, but the Ravens have a number of others capable of returning kicks including rookies Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams and veterans Lardarius Webb and Tom Zbikowski.

Rookie center Tim Barnes has also been released and could be a candidate for the practice squad, according to his agent’s Twitter account.

10:30 a.m. — The Ravens have released tight end Davon Drew, according to his representation’s Twitter feed. He was pretty clearly on the outside looking in after falling behind veteran Kris Wilson on the depth chart for the No. 3 tight end spot.

NFL reporter Adam Caplan is also reporting the Ravens are shopping linebacker Tavares Gooden to other teams. If they can fetch a low-round draft pick for Gooden, who is very clearly on the bubble anyway, it would be a prudent move by the Ravens.

10:00 a.m. — With the Ravens needing to shrink their roster from 80 to 53 for the regular season by 6 p.m. on Saturday, linebacker Prescott Burgess has reportedly become the first to fall. The special teams standout was waived Saturday morning, according to Scout.com.

Given the Ravens’ depth at the linebacker position and the new kickoff rules somewhat neutralizing the impact of kick coverage, Burgess’ role as the backup strong-side linebacker on the depth chart apparently wasn’t enough to save his spot.

I had Burgess on my 53-man roster that I mocked yesterday, meaning I’ve lost my perfect game right off the bat.

Shows how much I know.

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Ravens-Falcons Preseason Primer: What to watch

Posted on 31 August 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Purple Haze live chat beginning at 7:30 p.m. as we talk about the preseason finale and what to expect this season. For the quickest updates and analysis, follow WNST on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the WNST Text Service.***

As the calendar turns to September, we’ve finally reached the light at the end of the preseason tunnel as the Ravens travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons on Thursday night.

Of course, interest isn’t exactly bubbling over in the final preseason game, but plenty of players will be fighting for their professional lives, whether with Baltimore or the 31 other NFL teams that will trim down their rosters to 53 on Saturday.

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It’s unknown how long the starters will play against the Falcons, but John Harbaugh and the coaching staff will at least give the revamped offensive line — particularly newly-signed left tackle Bryant McKinnie — a brief look in live-game action during the first quarter. The reins will then be turned over to veteran backups and rookies trying to stake their final claims as to why they belong among the 53 that will take the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11.

Series history

Thursday night marks the third time in four years the Ravens and Falcons will meet in the preseason finale and the seventh time in the last nine years they’ve faced off during the preseason. The Ravens hold a 4-3 edge in the preseason series between the two teams with five of those games being played at the Georgia Dome.

Baltimore and Atlanta have met four times in the regular season, splitting those games. The Falcons won the most recent contest, a 26-21 thriller that took place on a Thursday night in Atlanta last season.

Atlanta connections

Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth played for Atlanta in 2008, starting 10 of 14 games and grabbing one interception while defending 11 passes.

On the opposing side, the Falcons have two former Baltimore draft picks in fullback Ovie Mughelli and backup quarterback Chris Redman. Mughelli played his first four seasons (2003-06) with the Ravens while Redman, a former third-round pick, spent four seasons (2000-03) and made six starts in 2002 before going down with a back injury.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith was the Baltimore defensive assistant/defensive line coach and linebackers coach (1999-2002) and is the brother-in-law of former Ravens coach Brian Billick. Atlanta defensive backs coach Alvin Reynolds was the Ravens secondary coach during the franchise’s first three seasons in Baltimore (1996-98).

Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg held the same position with the Falcons in 2007.

Injury report

Most starters will only see brief playing time while key veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are unlikely to play at all in the final preseason game. However, the Ravens are still dealing with a few injuries where concern could linger into the first week of the regular season.

Right guard Marshal Yanda has returned to practice and is expected to see some playing time, but center Matt Birk’s status remains up in the air. The 35-year-old center returned to the practice field on Saturday after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery at the beginning of training camp. When asked earlier in the week if he wanted to play against the Falcons, Birk said his goal was to be ready for the Sept. 11 opener.

Receiver Lee Evans (left foot), cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring), and offensive lineman Mark LeVoir were all absent from practice this week.

Evans hasn’t participated in practice since the third preseason game against Washington and was seen in a walking boot during Saturday’s practice. Carr has battled a left hamstring injury, which has forced him to miss the last two preseason games while being an intermittent participant during practices.

LeVoir’s injury is unknown as the swing lineman missed practice on Monday and Tuesday.

7 Bubble Players to Watch

1. LB Tavares Gooden – The 2008 third-round pick has never lived up to expectations, battling injuries and a perception of being a soft player in his first three seasons with the Ravens. Having fallen behind Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, and Brendon Ayanbadejo in the fight for playing time next to Ray Lewis in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense, Gooden has to hope his play in the nickel package as well as his special teams contributions are enough to earn one of the final spots on the roster.

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Ravens Training Camp: The impressive and disappointing

Posted on 20 August 2010 by Luke Jones

Another Westminster training camp has concluded with the Ravens now focusing their attention to the final three games of the preseason before the 2010 regular season gets underway against the New York Jets on Sept. 13.

Saturday night’s meeting with the Washington Redskins will be a key audition for  bubble players as coach John Harbaugh has already stated how important the second preseason game is for evaluating rookies and reserve veterans fighting for a roster spot.

Much will change before the initial cutdown to 75 players takes place on Aug. 31 and the final cut to 53 on Sept. 4, but here’s a breakdown of players—by position—who impressed and disappointed in Westminster.

QUARTERBACKS
Impressed: Joe Flacco is an easy choice after a strong camp with his new offensive weapons. The third-year quarterback still must prove he can read and throw to the middle of the field, but Anquan Boldin and a strong group of tight ends will certainly help.

Disappointed: Troy Smith knew his standing in the organization changed dramatically after the acquisition of Marc Bulger, and the former Heisman Trophy winner did nothing to push the veteran for the backup job. Smith lacks size and was too erratic in Westminster. He will stick as the No. 3 quarterback, but his performance made the Ravens look very wise for signing Bulger.

RUNNING BACKS
Impressed: Hard to go with anyone but Ray Rice at this spot despite Willis McGahee looking solid and healthy as well. Rice looked to be in mid-season form the first day veterans reported to Westminster. It will be another Pro Bowl season for the third-year back if he remains healthy.

Disappointed: Not his fault, but Matt Lawrence’s chance of making the 53-man roster continues to diminish as he remains on the physically unable to perform list. He is a capable special teams player when healthy, but this summer’s roster is too deep.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Impressed: Everyone assumed Mark Clayton would be cast aside in the offense when the Ravens acquired Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth, but the former starter had a strong training camp, catching everything thrown his way. Stallworth was the logical choice as the No. 3 receiver, but Clayton received more reps in three-wide sets over the final two weeks of camp.

Disappointed: The Ravens loved what they saw out of David Reed during the OTA schedule, but the rookie failed to adjust to the quicker speed of training camp. Considered a sure-handed receiver coming out of Utah, Reed dropped countless passes and was not been given much of a look as a kick returner. Demetrius Williams is clearly ahead of Reed in the battle for the fifth receiver spot.

TIGHT ENDS
Impressed: Ed Dickson looked more like an established—not to mention explosive—veteran than a rookie on the upper fields at McDaniel College. The 6-foot-4 Dickson has tremendous size and great speed for a tight end. His versatility will be a welcome addition when the Ravens use him in two-tight end sets and at H-back on occasion. On a side note, Todd Heap had an excellent camp, showing he’s still capable of producing when healthy.

Disappointed: Already facing an uphill battle to make the roster after the drafting of Dickson and Dennis Pitta, Davon Drew was not able to stay on the field this summer. Drew showed more consistency than he did last season as a rookie, but it’s difficult to make the team when you’re never on the field. He’ll need to get healthy and make an impact in the remaining preseason games.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Impressed: Fellow guard Ben Grubbs earns more notoriety, but Marshal Yanda was ferocious in Westminster, proving he’s all the way back from the horrific knee injury he suffered two seasons ago. Yanda anchored and stood up Terrence Cody during a 1-on-1 drill in one of the highlights of the summer, just a couple plays after the 350-pounder had blown up the highly-regarded Grubbs.

Disappointed: Showing up 30 pounds lighter without the coaching staff’s approval and injuring his back on the first day of full-team workouts made Jared Gaither a slam-dunk choice. Not only are there concerns whether he’ll be ready by Week 1, but he’s missed valuable time to adjust to the right tackle position.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Impressed: He got off to a slow start while adjusting to playing with the 15 extra pounds he gained in the offseason, but Paul Kruger became a force on the defensive line, off the edge and even sliding to the inside in the nickel package. If Kruger can replicate what he showed in Westminster over the last two weeks, the Ravens will have another factor in the pass rush.

Disappointed: None. This is the deepest unit on the team. The only disappointment on the defensive line is the reality that the organization will have to cut a couple of talented players due to numbers.

LINEBACKERS
Impressed: His performance in the Carolina game aside, Jameel McClain was the biggest surprise of camp over the first three weeks, working at inside linebacker with the first defense. McClain played the run well and showed competence in pass coverage, but it did not carry over against the Panthers in the preseason opener. The competition for the starting job next to Ray Lewis is still wide open. Antwan Barnes earns an honorable mention.

Disappointed: The likely favorite to win the second inside linebacker spot prior to camp, Dannell Ellerbe came to Westminster out of shape and trailed McClain and Tavares Gooden for much of the way. Ellerbe improved his standing as the weeks progressed, but it was apparent how unhappy the coaching staff was as Ellerbe worked with the second defense in Westminster.

CORNERBACKS
Impressed: Expected to be brought back slowly, Fabian Washington provided a much-needed lift to the secondary when he returned to the field during the first week of camp. Washington appeared quick and made more plays as the weeks progressed. He will see his first game action against the Redskins on Saturday night and will be relied upon to be the team’s top corner, even if he’s nowhere near a true No. 1.

Disappointed: The injury to Domonique Foxworth is most appropriate here, but the brief eight-day stint of Walt Harris takes the cake in this department. He was unable to show he had anything left in the tank despite a solid career. And it’s tough labeling the likes of Doug Dutch and Chris Hawkins as disappointments if you never had any expectations to begin with.

SAFETY
Impressed: While no one compares to Ed Reed, Tom Zbikowski eased concerns at the position with a very strong showing in Westminster. Zbikowski is faster and showed a strong nose for the football this summer after doing an adequate job in Reed’s place for four games last season. Despite not knowing the status of its future Hall of Famer, this unit of safeties looks very sound with Zbikowski and Dawan Landry anchoring the secondary.

Disappointed: Though labeling him a disappointment is bit strong, Ken Hamlin has done little to challenge Zbikowski for the free safety position, partly because the latter was excellent in practice. Hamlin was solid, but unspectacular, running with the second defense. The former Cowboy has great size (6-foot-2) but needs to show a stronger special teams presence to stick around when Reed returns to the field.

SPECIALISTS
Impressed: Yes, he’s younger, cheaper, and healthier, but the Ravens clearly loved what they saw from Morgan Cox to have jettisoned veteran Matt Katula two days after the preseason opener. Fans can only hope we won’t hear his name again all season.

Disappointed: Though he’s kicked reasonably well, the Ravens certainly wished Shayne Graham had seized early control of the competition with Billy Cundiff. Until the final two days of camp, Cundiff had outperformed the former Bengal by a slight margin. Graham struggled with field goals outside 45 yards in Westminster but kicked better during the practice at M&T Bank Stadium. The smart money is still on Graham to be the kicker, but the battle has been closer than most people thought.

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Live from Westminster: Webb still on PUP, “very close” to returning

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Ravens concluded their final morning practice at McDaniel College without a single player leaving the field with an injury.

They also appear to be regaining a key member of their secondary in the near future.

Despite speculation that Lardarius Webb would come off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Thursday, the second-year cornerback did not practice, but the Ravens hope Webb can return to practice before the team’s third preseason game against the New York Giants.

“He’s very close,” John Harbaugh said. “He’s right there. That’s up to the doctors to make the decision about when he practices, but he’s right there and I know he wants to practice.”

Webb said earlier in the week he did not want to play in the preseason, citing a desire not to rush his surgically-repaired right knee, but both Harbaugh and Webb have backed off those comments slightly. The cornerback has been working on his conditioning and lateral movement on a regular basis, with his most intense work coming Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m just working on my confidence [in my knee] right now,” Webb said.

The cornerback did not want to discuss specifics about his progress or a time frame for his return, only saying the knee is “coming along” several times and deferring to Harbaugh for any other questions about his return.

“I was taught not to talk as much,” said Webb, clarifying his brief answers to the media. “I got in trouble for talking to you all one time. They said I said something, so I have to keep everything short right now. So that’s why you’re getting the short answers.”

As Webb continues to move closer to a return, cornerback Chris Carr practiced fully for the first time since playing briefly in the preseason opener last Thursday. Carr says his injured left hamstring is feeling much better but will see how he feels on Saturday before determining how much he’ll play in the second preseason game.

“I felt pretty good out here,” Carr said following the Thursday morning practice. “The last couple days I came out here and practiced a little bit and did some conditioning. During my exercises and stuff, my hamstring felt just as strong as my right one does. That was a good sign, so I felt pretty confident coming out here today being able to do everything.”

Center Matt Birk (neck), linebacker Prescott Burgess (undisclosed), and defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (knee) returned to the practice field as well as linebacker Tavares Gooden (neck) and fullback Le’Ron McClain (back/upper leg), though both were limited.

Receiver Mark Clayton and tight end Ed Dickson were new absences from practice. Clayton is dealing with “soreness” in his legs, according to Harbaugh, though he had his right ankle taped on Wednesday morning.

Dickson is dealing with an issue in the hip flexor and groin region and was held out by Harbaugh despite the rookie’s wishes to return to the practice field after sitting out a special teams workout on Wednesday afternoon. The injury is not considered to be serious.

“That was my call [on holding Dickson out],” Harbaugh said. “I just don’t want him to do anything to that that’s more serious.”

Others absent from practice included tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), defensive back Marcus Paschal (leg), and offensive linemen David Hale (tailbone), Oniel Cousins (headache), Daniel Sanders (arm), and Stefan Rodgers (arm).

In addition to Webb, safety Ed Reed (hip), running back Matt Lawrence (knee), and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) remain on the active PUP list.

Stay right here for updates (time-stamped below) and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Harbaugh, Webb, Carr, and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as well as Le’Ron McClain’s conversation with Thyrl Nelson.

__________________________________________________________

1:50 p.m. — Players practiced in shells and shorts with only two days remaining until the second preseason game against the Redskins.

Cornerback Travis Fisher was picked on quite a bit during practice, being beaten by Anquan Boldin, Demetrius Williams, and Donte’ Stallworth in a 10-minute span at one point during the morning session. Perhaps it’s the curse of No. 41 (see Frank Walker).

With Tavares Gooden being limited as he continues to rest his neck, Dannell Ellerbe took the reps at inside linebacker with the first team.

Chris Carr played the nickel spot when the Ravens ran their three-cornerback packages with Cary Williams and Fisher rotating on the outside.

Offensively, Boldin, Stallworth, and Williams were in on three-wide sets with Derrick Mason resting and Mark Clayton out with a sore ankle. This was just the latest indication that Williams has solidified his role as the No. 5 receiver with rookie David Reed struggling during training camp.

1:45 p.m. — Billy Cundiff has held a slight edge over Shayne Graham in the kicking competition thus far, but the former struggled considerably on the final day of workouts in Westminster.

Cundiff missed from 38 and 53 yards and hit the left upright on another late attempt at the end of practice while Shayne Graham connected from 48 and 53 yards despite missing a long attempt of his own before the conclusion of practice.

With our daily kicking updates coming to an end, we’ll have to rely on the kickers’ performance in the final three preseason games, which will carry far more weight in determining who will be the guy on Sept. 13 against the New York Jets.

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Live from Westminster: Ravens limping through final days of camp

Posted on 18 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — With injuries continuing to hinder the training camp roster, John Harbaugh and the Ravens are probably thinking they cannot get away from McDaniel College fast enough and back to the cozy confines of 1 Winning Drive as the injury list continues to grow daily, particularly on the offensive line.

Right tackle Oniel Cousins was carted off the field after suffering from a headache on Wednesday morning. Cousins, already filling in for the injured Jared Gaither (back tear), appeared to be laboring earlier in practice and stood on the sidelines for a considerable time before leaving the field. The training staff will test Cousins for a possible concussion.

Tony Moll filled in on the right side in Cousins’ absence while Chris Chester continues to handle the center position in place of Matt Birk (neck). Other linemen missing practice included Stefan Rodgers (arm) and Daniel Sanders (arm).

It was an “over-30 club” day in Westminster, meaning the likes of Ray Lewis and Derrick Mason were given the day off. With veterans receiving a respite and so many others not practicing, fans could be forgiven if they didn’t recognize all players running with the starting units at times.

New absences from practice included fullback Le’Ron McClain (back/thigh) and linebackers Tavares Gooden (neck) and Prescott Burgess (undisclosed). McClain appeared to be dealing with an upper thigh issue over the last few days, even having the hip and thigh region wrapped during Saturday afternoon’s practice. The starting fullback was in street clothes, walking with a limp during the morning session, but the injury is not believed to be serious.

Gooden continues to deal with neck spasms after sustaining an awkward hit to the neck in the preseason opener. Despite practicing the last two days, the team will use caution the rest of the week in hopes that Gooden will be able to play against the Redskins on Saturday.

“[The neck] just keeps tightening back up on him,” Harbaugh said. “We need to just sit him down and settle him down.”

Gooden’s health clouds what has been an intriguing competition at inside linebacker after Jameel McClain lost his stronghold at the position with a poor performance in the preseason opener. McClain has received more work at the “Sam” outside linebacker with the second unit this week. Harbaugh hopes to get extended looks at all three with the starting defense over the final three preseason games.

“We’ll kind of move those guys around the next two weeks, and we’ll know where we’re at.”

In addition to the “over-30” club—which includes Lewis, Mason, Birk, Todd Heap, Travis Fisher, Trevor Pryce, and Kelly Gregg (Ed Reed and Brendon Ayanbadejo are still on the PUP list)—defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (knee), tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), and defensive back Marcus Paschal (leg) joined the aforementioned players as non-participants in the morning practice.

Stay right here for updates (time-stamped below) and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Harbaugh, rookie receiver David Reed, and safety Tom Zbikowski’s conversation with Thyrl Nelson following practice.

______________________________________________________________________

1:40 p.m. — Both Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham missed from 45 yards on Wednesday morning. Cundiff pulled his attempt wide left while Graham was wide right on his try.

Each kicker connected from 19, 40, and 51 yards as both continue to produce similar results day in and day out in Westminster.

12:45 p.m. — With Thursday being the last two-a-day of the summer, coaches and players are laboring through the final workouts in Westminster and toward the remainder of the preseason schedule. John Harbaugh has been pleased with the team’s work during camp, evidenced by his cancellation of three practices (one on Saturday and two on Sunday) over the last week.

“You get to this point and it’s time to [go],” Harbaugh said. “You’re looking into the next phase of camp. Going into this practice [on Tuesday morning], we wanted to make sure that we have five good practices before we leave here, to make the most of it, and we did a good job today.”

The Ravens will conduct a walk-through on Friday before breaking camp and continuing their preseason preparation at their practice complex in Owings Mills.

12:35 p.m. — As mentioned yesterday, rookie David Reed has struggled to catch the ball consistently after a strong beginning in Westminster. Reed, a fifth-round pick in April, was expected to battle for the fifth receiver job but has fallen out of contention with Demetrius Williams having such a strong—and injury-free—training camp.

With three preseason games remaining, Reed will need a strong showing at receiver and on special teams to avoid being cut or stashed away on the practice squad—or Injured Reserve with a mysterious injury.

“You want consistency,” Harbaugh said about the young receivers following Tuesday’s practice. “For whatever reason, we dropped a lot of balls out here today. I thought the quarterbacks were just a little more in rhythm with their throws [and] a little quicker versus the pressure, which is what we want, and maybe it caught the receivers a little bit off guard.”

Hale acknowledges he has struggled to catch the football in camp, something he has not experienced previously in his career.

“I don’t drop too many passes [typically],” Reed said. “That’s one thing I carry myself [with], I don’t drop passes. I’m getting it back.”

12:20 p.m. — Cornerback Chris Carr and receiver Mark Clayton suited up to practice but were limited participants throughout the morning session. Carr has taken part in individual drills the last two days but continues to sit out team portions of practice as he continues to recover from a left hamstring injury sustained on Aug. 7.

With Carr sitting out 11-on-11 drills and the 30-year-old Travis Fisher not practicing, Fabian Washington and Cary Williams were the cornerbacks with the first defense.

Clayton had his right ankle taped before walking out to practice, but the receiver stood on the sideline without a helmet and gloves for much of practice. Demetrius Williams and Donte’ Stallworth split reps at receiver opposite of Anquan Boldin with Clayton out and Mason receiving the day off.

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Live from Westminster: Ravens honor military at McDaniel

Posted on 17 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — With hundreds of military personnel on hand, the Ravens were back on the practice field Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the second preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

Players such as defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (below) signed autographs for uniformed military and their families for nearly an hour following a practice that lasted over two hours in the sweltering heat.

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“It’s just a real special day,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re real proud of what all the personnel in the military all across the country and overseas has done for us. We just can’t thank them enough for their service, for the sacrifices the families make.”

Offensive lineman David Hale was absent from practice with a “bruised” tailbone sustained after defensive tackle Haloti Ngata landed on top of him in a pass-rushing drill during Monday’s morning practice. The key reserve lineman has not yet undergone an MRI or CAT scan to determine whether the tailbone is fractured, according to Harbaugh.

Concerns exist that it might be a long-term injury, a potential damaging blow given Hale’s versatility for an offensive line already dealing with the absence of Jared Gaither for the remainder of the preseason.

“I really don’t know,” said Harbaugh when asked if Hale’s injury might be season-ending. “We haven’t gotten an MRI yet, so I wouldn’t be writing that yet.”

Center Matt Birk missed his third straight practice with tightness in his neck. The 13-year veteran has not practiced since the preseason opener last Thursday. Birk started training camp on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing an elbow procedure in the offseason.

“[Birk’s] going to be a guy we’re going to be very judicious with throughout training camp and even throughout the season,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think a lot of practice is what he needs. He’s up there [in years]. When you play on the offensive line that many years, you want to be smart with those guys and how many contact reps they take.”

Ngata returned to practice after sitting out the latter portion of Monday’s practice following the collision with Hale. The Pro Bowl tackle appeared to be favoring his left wrist but showed no signs of injury on Tuesday.

Also back at practice was offensive tackle Oniel Cousins, who walked off the field with a member of the staff toward the end of practice after a skirmish with linebacker Jameel McClain earlier in the Monday morning workout. Cousins managed to get into another scuffle Tuesday, this time with linebacker Edgar Jones despite it being a lighter shells-and-shorts workout. The third-year tackle, who continues to fill in for Gaither at right tackle, has earned a reputation for mixing it up with teammates in his brief career.

“I don’t know, they might be coming after me,” said Cousins, drawing laughter from media members. “For some reason, everybody’s always trying to fight with me, I don’t know why. We’re just out there having fun. I don’t know, it’s just a practice. It’s hot and everybody’s out there getting after it.”

Cornerback Chris Carr was a limited participant during Tuesday’s practice, doing individual work but sitting out full-team drills. In addition to Hale and Birk, tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), defensive back Marcus Paschal (leg), defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (knee), offensive linemen Daniel Sanders (arm) and Stefan Rodgers (arm), and offensive tackle Jared Gaither (back) did not practice.

Stay right here for more (time-stamped below) and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Harbaugh, Cousins, quarterback coach Jim Zorn, and tight end Todd Heap’s conversation from the field with Rex Snider.

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8:45 p.m. — The daily installment of the kicking competition brought similar results to what we’ve seen throughout the summer.

Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham were each perfect on five attempts, with both men connecting from 48 and 51 yards. The Ravens will likely alternate kicks between the two as they did in the preseason opener against Carolina.

8:35 p.m — The star of Tuesday’s practice—on and off the field—was veteran tight end Todd Heap, who made three spectacular catches while looking like the tight end who made consecutive Pro Bowls in 2002 and 2003.

Heap made a leaping, one-handed catch over the middle early in practice and beat cornerback Travis Fisher on a sideline route for a long gain. The 10-year veteran finished off his finest practice of the summer with a catch in the back of the end zone over cornerback Brad Jones.

Following practice, Heap signed autographs for military personnel for nearly 45 minutes before joining Rex Snider on AM 1570 WNST. You can hear the conversation in its entirety in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.

While Heap shined on Tuesday, rookie David Reed’s struggles continued as the receiver dropped two passes, one of them leading to a Cary Williams’ interception on a pass thrown by Troy Smith.

After an impressive start in Westminster, Reed has struggled to catch the ball consistently, leaving his status in doubt with Demetrius Williams performing well in his efforts to grab the fifth receiver spot on the roster. Expected to be a contender to return kicks, Reed has not received many opportunities during special teams practices.

8:15 p.m. — Tuesday’s practice provided more confirmation for a possible shift in the team’s depth chart at inside linebacker.

Tavares Gooden—practicing without the red non-contact jersey—lined up next to Ray Lewis in the starting defense, another indication that Jameel McClain has lost the stronghold he enjoyed through the first three weeks of training camp. Dannell Ellerbe took reps with the starting defense on Monday as McClain worked at outside linebacker with the second unit.

Much of the defensive work, however, came in nickel and dime packages, and Gooden is considered the strongest of the three in pass coverage.

Needless to say, it will be interesting seeing who lines up with the starting unit in the team’s second preseason game against the Redskins on Saturday night.

8:05 p.m. — John Harbaugh responded to cornerback Lardarius Webb’s comments from Monday that expressed he did not want to play in the preseason and wants to be cautious in returning from an ACL injury sustained late last season. Webb’s rehab is ahead of schedule and could be activated from the PUP list in the near future.

“I think we are going to be cautious with [Webb],” Harbaugh said. “If he can play in the preseason and we feel very comfortable there’s not going to be a setback, we’ll do it. If we think there’s any possibility of a setback—reasonable possibility—we’ll probably just save him [for the regular season].”

Webb has worked out regularly on the side field during training camp, working on conditioning and agility to strengthen his surgically-repaired right knee.

Running back Matt Lawrence (knee) and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) remain on the PUP list but were running on the side during Tuesday’s practice. Neither player has been very active during practices in Westminster, and Ayanbadejo was just recently cleared to begin running full-speed.

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Live from Westminster: Injuries mount on offensive line

Posted on 16 August 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. – After receiving some well-deserved time off since the preseason opener last week, the Ravens were back on the practice field Monday morning but saw several players go down with injuries.

Offensive lineman David Hale was carted off the field with an apparent chest/rib injury after a collision with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata during linemen drills in the latter portion of practice. Ngata sat out the remainder of practice with a left arm issue, but the injury did not appear to be serious.

Oniel Cousins also walked off the field gingerly with a member of the training staff and did not return. Earlier in pratice, he had a scuffle with linebacker Jameel McClain, but there was no word whether the injury was a result of the fight.

With Jared Gaither out another two to three weeks with a small tear in his back, Cousins is the “logical choice” to take his place at right tackle, according to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. With Cousins leaving the field, his replacement was Tony Moll, who only returned to practice on Saturday after a concussion sidelined him for two weeks.

“I don’t think you’re ever comfortable [with your offensive line],” Camerson said about the uncertainty with the first unit. “You really aren’t, because you know you’re one or two [lost] players away from really having to rebuild something.”

Others not practicing included offensive linemen Matt Birk (elbow) and Daniel Sanders (arm), defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (knee), tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), and defensive backs Marcus Paschal (leg) and Chris Carr (hamstring). Carr has not practiced since making a surprise appearance against the Panthers on Thursday night.

Linebacker Tavares Gooden was limited for the second straight practice as he deals with back soreness after taking an awkward hit from the side in the first preseason game. The third-year backer sported a red mesh top over his jersey and did not partake in any live contact in the morning session.

Check back right here (time-stamped below) for updates throughout the day and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison, Jerry Rosburg, Dawan Landry, Lardarius Webb, and Cary Williams as well as Thyrl Nelson’s conversation with Mark Clayton immediately following the morning practice. As always, remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates straight from the field in Westminster!

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1:45 p.m. — Monday was another big day for the kickers as Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff were perfect on all attempts.

Cundiff connected for a long 58-yard field goal but also hit from 20, 38, 46, and 52 yards. Graham was 4-for-4 and made kicks from 20, 38, 46, and 52 yards. Cundiff is currently kicking with the first field goal unit, but it appears both kickers are strongly in contention for the job after only one preseason game.

The inside linebacker competition has heated up after a disappointing showing by Jameel McClain against Carolina. Dannell Ellerbe appears to have closed the gap as he, McClain, and a limited Tavares Gooden (see above) took reps next to Ray Lewis and the starting defense.

1:35 p.m. — Cornerback Lardarius Webb continues to rehab his surgically-repair ACL after suffering the injury late last season. The second-year play has been doing agility and conditioning work for most of training camp but still doesn’t have a timetable for his return to the practice field.

“No time limit,” he said. “We’re coming. We don’t want everybody to know [when] I am coming back.”

When pressed whether he would return to action before the preseason ended, Webb indicated he preferred taking extra time to insure the knee is ready for games that actually matter.

“I’m hoping it’s not [returning in the preseason],” Webb said. “For what? I’m still like seven months [removed from the injury]. We still have a lot of work to do. We have to make sure it’s right before I come back on.”

Webb remains on the active physically unable to perform list along with safety Ed Reed (hip), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps), and running back Matt Lawrence (knee). If Webb starts the season on the reserve PUP list, he would miss the first six weeks of the regular season.

When he returns to action, Webb is expected to contend for a starting spot at cornerback, a position at which the Ravens are extremely thin after the loss of Domonique Foxworth at the start of training camp.

“I think with an ACL, every time you work [the knee], afterwords, you might have a little soreness, but it’s always going to be soreness,” Webb said. “It’s not the knee; it’s just soreness from work. But no, it feels great.”

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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!

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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 misses practice as first fight breaks out

Posted on 31 July 2010 by Luke Jones

WESTMINSTER, Md. — The Ravens were back on the practice field Saturday morning, but two key starters were absent.

After being carted off the field with back cramps Friday afternoon, Jared Gaither was absent from both sessions on Saturday. We didn’t hear from John Harbaugh after practice, so we’ll assume it’s a precautionary measure at this point. However, given the Ravens’ propensity for hiding the severity of injuries, it’s certainly worth monitoring in the coming days.

Cornerback Fabian Washington did not practice after returning to the field wearing a red non-contact jersey on Friday afternoon. He did, however, return to the field in the afternoon wearing the same non-contact top. With the fragile state of the defensive backfield after the loss of Domonique Foxworth for the season, there’s no reason for the Ravens to rush Washington’s return to the field with three weeks remaining in training camp.

We also witnessed our first fight of the summer as rookie defensive tackle Art Jones mixed it up with offensive lineman Bryan Mattison after a play during passing drills. A dogpile quickly followed but order was restored and the two shook hands after the scrum.

You can hear more from Jones about the morning rumble as well as special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg and backup quarterback Marc Bulger in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.

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

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5:15 p.m. — The afternoon session has wrapped up with Fabian Washington returning to the practice field sporting the red non-contact jersey.

Jared Gaither was absent from practice again, though he walked out for the latter portion of the workout in a t-shirt and shorts. I’m beginning to wonder if the back cramps for which he was carted off on Friday afternoon are actually spasms.

Offensive tackle Tony Moll sat out in the afternoon after lining up with the first-team offense at right tackle (with Gaither’s absence). Rookie Ramon Harewood received the reps on the right side with the first team.

Cornerback Walt Harris did not practice but was out on the field with his teammates.

As for the practice itself, coach John Harbaugh was very angry with the team’s tempo during the 11-on-11 portion, verbally chastising his players and making them run off the field. The Ravens coach voiced his displeasure with some words unsuitable for this blog, but it was clear he wanted to send a message.

Workouts will resume on Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m. and an afternoon session at 2:45 p.m.

2:10 p.m. — While several of his teammates were outspoken after Marc Bulger signed a one-year, $3.8 million contract to back up starter Joe Flacco, the veteran was complimentary of his teammates’ help in learning the Baltimore offense, a system similar to what he had in St. Louis.

What remains to be learned is the different terminology and verbiage that comes with a new team.

“Troy [Smith] and [Flacco] and John [Beck] have been great to me, making some cheat sheets,” Bulger said. “I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m getting there.”

Bulger had opportunities to play elsewhere with a better opportunity to start, but his last few seasons with the Rams made him desperate to play for a winning organization. St. Louis went a combined 6-42 over the last three seasons.

“I love the [Rams] organization, but we just hadn’t been winning,” Bulger said. “It takes a lot of the fun out of it, and I wanted to win somewhere. Not that I couldn’t win other places, but I think that this team, after talking with [John Harbaugh] and his philosophy really intrigued me. … I see why they’re so proud about the organization.”

Bulger was also asked about the man who replaced him in St. Louis—rookie Sam Bradford—and the guaranteed $50 million he’ll receive from the Rams before ever taking a snap in the NFL. He didn’t have any advice for the former Oklahoma quarterback.

“No suggestions, just congratulations,” the former Rams quarterback said while laughing, “and his agents did a heck of a job. I’ve got the same ones.”

I’d say.

1:45 p.m. — With the hectic nature surrounding the Domonique Foxworth injury on Friday, I failed to provide an update on the kicking competition between Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff.

During the morning session on Saturday, Graham connected from 30, 39, 44, and 51 yards but missed from 50 yards away. Cundiff made field goals from 30, 39, 44, 51, and 46 yards.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg talked about the competition between Graham and Cundiff and how different it is than the one between Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano in training camp a season ago.

“The way it’s different is we have two experienced, veteran NFL kickers in here doing that competition,” Rosburg said. “It’s going to be day to day, kick to kick, and then preseason games obviously. It’s important—as we all know—that you’re able to go kick in game environments.”

While we’ll continue to track each kicker’s daily performance in Westminster, the real key to the competition will be the four preseason games.Though Cundiff has an edge having been on the team last season, most insides believe Graham will ultimately prevail and be the team’s kicker by Week 1.

“My thinking on that is—it’s much like quarterbacks—practice is really good and it’s valuable and you learn a lot by watching guys play in practice,” Rosburg said. “For kickers, game environments are really valuable, too. That is part of the whole formula.”

12:50 p.m. — Highlights from the morning included a gorgeous pass from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason for a long, 40-plus yard touchdown. Mason looks very sharp as he begins his 14th season in the league.

Donte’ Stallworth continues to impress in the early stages of training camp. He’s shown impressive speed with a quick burst. It’s clear he’s taking this opportunity very seriously as he tries to put the events of the last two years behind him and get his career back on track. If he can remain healthy—not a given when you look at his NFL career—he could really develop into the deep threat the Ravens have sorely lacked in their passing game for years.

The team scrimmaged live for the first time on Saturday morning with the defense doing an admirable job against the first-team offense. Ray Rice broke a Prescott Burgess tackle and gained eight yards on one play but found little running room overall in the live session.

During skeleton passing drills, Marc Bulger found a wide-open Dennis Pitta over the middle for a huge gain.

The secondary also missed an interception opportunity as Burgess and new safety Ken Hamlin battled for the ball. Neither came up with it as the football dropped harmlessly to the turf.

Despite the secondary currently being in disarray, injuries have created an opportunity for Travis Fisher, who looked more comfortable on Saturday morning after some shaky early sessions. The 30-year-old Fisher brings eight years of experience in the NFL and can really impress with Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb continuing to work their way back from knee injuries.

12:40 p.m. — After receiving the question from Nick below, I wanted to pass along a couple of number changes. Ed Dickson is now wearing No. 83, trading with Davon Drew who will now sport No. 80.

Dickson wore the number in college and will compensate his teammate an undisclosed amount, according to Drew.

Hope I cleared up some confusion if you were out in Westminster the last two days.

12:25 p.m. — With Jared Gaither sidelined this morning, reserve Tony Moll worked out at right tackle with the starting offense as Michael Oher worked exclusively on the left side.

With Fabian Washington sidelined again, the starting corners were Chris Carr and Travis Fisher. Tom Zbikowski received most reps as the starting free safety with Ed Reed continuing to rehab from offseason hip surgery.

It was a worrisome sight seeing Washington, Reed, and Lardarius Webb—three of the four projected starters in the secondary—standing on the sidelines together and not wearing the pads. Thankfully, it’s only July 31 and not Sept. 13.

In other injury news, tight end Davon Drew did not practice this morning. He said after practice on Friday he was suffering from a slight hamstring strain but didn’t seem concerned about missing a significant amount of time.

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