The Ravens "X" Factor

Friday, August 20, 2010


Washington to start Saturday, Carr's leg improving

The Baltimore Ravens’ hard luck at cornerback is beginning to change.

It’s a lot less dire situation than when the Ravens began training camp with cornerback Domonique Foxworth suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Fabian Washington is slated to start against the Washington Redskins and play roughly a quarter Saturday night at FedEx Field after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last season.

“Fabian’s held up out here in all the live, full-speed drills,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “When you don’t go full contact, it’s full speed for a corner and the things that he does. And Fabian has had no problems with that. A game is different, so we’ll be looking forward to that.”

Washington emphasized that he’s been gaining trust in the knee for the past few weeks.

He got injured last November.

“I’m doing it all, I’ve been testing it out pretty hard,” Washington said. “I feel confident about everything. I can’t wait to get out there. It’s been a long road back. To me, the whole thing is a relief to really be back. I might even be a little nervous when I get out there Saturday night.”

Chris Carr is optimistic about his chances of increasing his playing time after being limited to a few snaps last week against the Carolina Panthers due to a left hamstring injury before being replaced by Cary Williams.

Carr has been limited in practice this week.

“If I feel good enough to play a lot Saturday night, I will,” Carr said. “I felt pretty good. The last couple days, I came out here and practice a little bit and did some conditioning and during my exercises, my hamstring felt just as good as my right one does. That was a good sign, so I felt pretty confident being able to do everything.”

And Lardarius Webb is nearing the point where he’ll be activated from the physically unable to perform list, according to Harbaugh.

“He’s very close, he’s right there,” Harbaugh said. “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.”

The Ravens would like to have Webb activated by the third preseason game Aug. 28 against the Washington Redskins.

Webb said earlier this week that he doesn’t want to play during the preseason.
He tore his anterior cruciate ligament last December against the Chicago Bears.
Webb is training twice per day and appears fluid and strong during his running, cutting and jumping drills on the sidelines.

On the orders of team officials after speaking out days ago, Webb gave extremely short responses to questions about his knee.

“I’m just working on my confidence right now,” he said. “It’s coming along well. I was taught not to talk as much. I got in trouble for talking to y’all one time, and they said I said something. So, I have to keep everything short right now. So, that’s why you’re getting the short answers.

“Hopefully, I can be back as soon as possible. We’re being real and taking it easy on me. Everything is left up to coach Harbs. Any answers on when I’m going to come back, talk to John.”

UP AND DOWN: It’s been a rough camp for rookie wide receiver David Reed.

He’s been plagued by dropped passes.

His best play was Wednesday when he executed a leaping touchdown catch over cornerback Chris Hawkins in the back of the end zone.

Overall, though, it’s been a disappointing time.

“I talked to coach Cam [Cameron] and said, ‘I’m in a slump,’” Reed said. “He said, ‘In a slump, you never were.’ I thought about that as practice went on, and it’s true. I wasn’t in a slump. I was just getting myself down. I’m my biggest critic, and I have to get out there.”

Reed dropped a bomb from Marc Bulger that hit him right in the hands.

On Thursday, he caught a touchdown from Bulger.

The fifth-round draft pick from Utah has been spending a lot of time after practice catching passes on the JUGS machine.

“Just keep grinding and just get my confidence back and get my swagger back, I’m definitely getting better every day,” said Reed, who caught 81 passes for 1,188 yards last season. “I’m my biggest enemy, my biggest critic. I don’t drop too many passes. I’m getting it back.

“I’ve got to perform. I’ve got to find a way to help this team out and make this roster whether it’s all special teams or receiver.”

INJURY UPDATES: Wide receiver Mark Clayton didn’t practice due to an ankle injury, but predicted he’ll play Saturday.

“My ankle was a little sore,” he said. “Just chill, take some mental reps. I’ll play Saturday.”

Rookie tight end Ed Dickson didn’t practice due to a groin injury, which was described as a hip injury by Harbaugh.

“It was actually my groin,” said Dickson, adding that he’ll definitely play Saturday. “It’s all right. They just want to be cautious and make sure I’m ready to go. I’ll be good.

“It’s a long season. They just don’t want to have me out early, so they just take precaution. Coach Harbs told me, ‘Take it easy. If you’re hurting, go ahead and that right.’”

Not practicing: offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (head injury), tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), center David Hale (bruised tailbone), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (strained back, back spasms), offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers (shoulder), safety Marcus Paschal (right quadriceps) and offensive guard Daniel Sanders (shoulder).
Cousins isn’t expected to play Saturday due to a mild concussion, and Tony Moll has been taking work with the first-team offense.

The following players returned to practice: center Matt Birk (neck), linebacker Prescott Burgess (migraine), Carr, and linebacker Tavares Gooden (neck).

Still on the physically unable to perform list: safety Ed Reed (hip), running back Matt Lawrence (knee), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) and Webb.

GETTING THE CALL: When his phone didn’t ring and he remained out of work as NFL camps got underway after being cut by the Ravens this spring, undrafted rookie safety Brad Jones was about to give up on football and get a job.

He was scheduled for a job interview this week with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati before the Ravens signed him last weekend.

“I was going to just go to work,” Jones said. “I was supposed to have that meeting. I told the guy I had to get back to Baltimore. He told me he understood and that they would love to have me at P&G one day.”

Jones said he’s beginning to get up to speed after being signed weeks into camp.
“I was still studying my playbook just in case and my legs are starting to come back,” Jones said. “I’m a little slugging some days. I’m pushing through.”

Jones said he has volunteered to play cross-train at cornerback, which he played in college at the University of Cincinnati.

“I have the ability to play nickel,” he said. “I’ve never taken a snap at corner here, but I wouldn’t be a liability.”

WHO’S STARTING?: Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain both said they don’t know who’s starting at inside linebacker Saturday.

“Those guys, they've been rotating and playing and competing all the way through camp, so this is a continuation of that," Harbaugh said. "I think the competition has been good, and they've all played well, so we'll just have to see how it shakes out."

QUICK HITS: Safety Ken Hamlin intercepted backup quarterback Marc Bulger and starter Joe Flacco. … Kicker Billy Cundiff had a tough day at practice, pushing one kick several yards wide left. He missed three of his five tries. Shayne Graham made four of his six kicks. … Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was at the morning practice, signing autographs for fans.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

TRAINING CAMP DAY 14: Cousins goes down, injuries mount

No structural damage, broken bones for Hale

The Baltimore Ravens' most injury-riddled position absorbed yet another blow when right offensive tackle Oniel Cousins was carted off the field with a headache.

Cousins returned to the team hotel Wednesday night after being evaluated for concussion symptoms.

Cousins has also been dealing with fatigue stemming from weight loss as well as the time he missed while recovering from offseason throat surgery. Cousins had a noncancerous cyst removed from his esophagus.

"He developed a headache, so that's where we're at," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I don't know any more than that."

The Ravens are shorthanded along the offensive line with starting right tackle Jared Gaither out with a strained back and back spasms.

Plus, center Matt Birk is dealing with a neck injury and offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers and offensive guard Daniel Sanders are suffering from shoulder injuries. David Hale was carted off the field Monday with a bruised tailbone.

Reserve tackle Tony Moll took over for Cousins with the first-team offense.

"It definitely felt good for me to able to get in there because I still need to prove who I am, what I'm all about and that I deserve to be with the ones," Moll said. "Since I've been here, I haven't had much of a chance to get in there with the ones. That's what it takes to be able to be in there with the ones and gain the confidence of the coaches and the staff."

The NFL is taking extra precautions with head injuries this season, making it a major point of emphasis with baseline tests to ensure that neurological activity is normal before clearing a player medically.

Moll missed roughly two weeks with a concussion earlier this season.

"Anything with the head, they're doing so many things right now trying to figure out what's causing it and how to prevent it," Moll said. "It's a good thing that the NFL has taken such major precautions now."

Hale didn't suffer any structural damage to his back during a collision with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata where he landed on his tailbone.

Hale, who was carted off the field, didn't fracture any bones, a magnetic resonance imaging exam and X-rays revealed.

Hale is expected to be out for at least the next few days with the bruised tailbone.

GOODEN HAS A NECK INJURY: Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden was sidelined from practice Wednesday morning due to a neck injury.

Gooden got injured against the Carolina Panthers last week and was able to practice Tuesday with no restrictions on contact after wearing a red jersey Monday that signified he was off-limits to hitting.

Now, Gooden's not practicing at all as the Ravens are hoping that rest will cure what's ailing him.

"Tavares has got the neck thing from the game," Harbaugh said ."It just keeps tightening back up on him, so we just need to sit him down and settle him down. He's tried to go the last two days.

"Every time he's tried to go, it spasms back up, so we just need to settle him down for a couple days and try to get him out there on Saturday."

Gooden was under consideration to start Saturday night. That might be tough, though, unless he's able to practice today.

So, Baltimore might go with Dannell Ellerbe or Jameel McClain, who started against Carolina.

The Ravens want to evaluate all three candidates to start opposite All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

"Yeah, that'd probably be part of it," Harbaugh said. "We also want to get Jameel some work at Sam [strongside linebacker] because he's a multiple guy, and in order to play the position, you've got to get some work there. So, we'll move those guys around for the next two weeks and we'll know where we're at."

McCLAIN SITS OUT: Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain sat out of practice due to a tight back.

He said he expects to return to practice as soon as today and play Saturday night.

"It's my back," he said. "It's a little tight. Coach [Harbaugh] told me to chill out. I'll come back ready for practice and then get ready for the Redskins."

CARR ON THE MEND: Cornerback Chris Carr is practicing on a limited basis due to a left hamstring injury, but could return to full-team drills as soon as today.

"Slowly, but surely," Carr said. "Last week playing in the game that first play, it kind of hurt a little bit. I kind of got a little overanxious. When you're out here, you don't want to feel like you're milking it. You want to play. I think my conditioning is getting better."

Carr said he's open to expanded playing time this week after watching Cary Williams take the majority of the work with the first-team defense last week against Carolina.

"Yeah, if they want me to, and if I feel good [today] in practice," he said. "It's all precarious because in a live situation, it's different in practice. So, we'll see."

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (knee) has returned to practice.

"I feel better," he said. "The swelling went down."

Stefan Rodgers indicated that he won't need surgery to repair his shoulder, which partially popped out of joint

"It's not bad," he said. "I'll be back real quick."

Not practicing: Gaither, Rodgers, Birk, Hale, Gooden, Sanders, tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), linebacker Prescott Burgess (migraine), McClain, safety Marcus Paschal (right quadriceps),

The following players are still on the physically unable to perform list: free safety Ed Reed (hip), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps), cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and running back Matt Lawrence (knee).

SLIMMED-DOWN SUGGS: During practice, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson asked reporters if they're planning to write about outside linebacker Terrell Suggs having lost 20 pounds from last season when he tipped the scales at 283 pounds.

"Yes, he should have been moved to guard last year," Johnson said. "But this year he looks good."

Suggs broke into laughter when Johnson said that.

Suggs is on a better diet, cutting down on fried chicken and cookies to get in better shape.

QUICK HITS: Rookie defensive tackle Arthur Jones wrote on his Twitter account that he was fined $5,000 by the league office for an accidental block below the waist against Carolina. "You have to love the NFL," Jones wrote. ... Today marks the final training camp practices that are open to the public. Starting Monday, the Ravens shift practice back to their training complex in Owings Mills, which isn't open to the public. ... The Ravens rested several veterans ages 30-and-over, including Lewis, wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap , nose guard Kelly Gregg and defensive end Trevor Pryce.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TRAINING CAMP DAY 14: Ed Reed makes progress

Baltimore Ravens star free safety Ed Reed is making steady progress following hip surgery this offseason, and he has been traveling regularly to Atlanta to try to accelerate the healing process.

The organization remains hopeful that Reed will make it back for the opening game of the season against the New York Jets.

However, Reed has said he doesn't know if he'll be ready for the first game of the season or the first game of October, November or December.

The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year is still on the physically unable to perform list.

Reed has been attending practice except when he goes to Georgia.

If Reed isn't ready by the start of the season, then Tom Zbikowski is expected to start in his place.

NECK BOTHERING BIRK: Six- time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk hasn't practiced since last week due to a tight neck, a problem that affected him last season.
Birk's injury isn't regarded as serious.

"He's just got a little tightness in his neck," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Matt's going to be a guy that we're going to be very judicious with throughout training camp and even throughout the season.

"I don't think a lot of practice is what he needs, but he's up there. When you've played on the offensive line for that many years, you want to be smart with those guys with how many contact reps they take."

HALE TO UNDERGO MRI: Reserve offensive lineman David Hale has a bruised tailbone.
He's set to have a magnetic resonance imaging exam to determine if there are any broken bones in the next day or two.

Hale is still feeling the effects from his violent collision with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata Monday morning when he was carted off the field.

"He landed right on his tailbone, so it appears to be a bruised tailbone, which is extremely painful," Harbaugh said. "They haven't been able to get a CAT scan or MRI on it, to my knowledge, to make sure it's not fractured. Just landed straight on it with Haloti on top of him, so it's a little painful."

Medical officials are waiting for the pain and swelling to subside before they order imaging for Hale.

Hale is having trouble getting around.

Harbaugh said it's too soon to say whether the injury is going to force Hale out for the season.

"I really don't know," he said. "We haven't gotten the MRI on it yet. I wouldn't be writing that yet."

NO RUSH WITH WEBB: Injured cornerback Lardarius Webb made it clear Monday that he believes it would be too soon for him to play in the preseason after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against the Chicago Bears last December.

Basically, Harbaugh agrees with him.

Webb remains on the physically unable to perform list, but Harbaugh said that status could change soon.

"That's kind of been our position all the way through with all of our guys," Harbaugh said. "As you said, we might want to be cautious with it. We're going to be cautious with all these guys. The thing you don't want to do is have a setback. He's really doing well.

"I think he's progressing ahead of schedule from what I've been told. It won't be long before you see him off of PUP and out here practicing with the guys, but I think we are going to be cautious with it. If he can play in the preseason and we feel very comfortable that there's not going to be a setback, then we'll do it. If we think there is any possibility of a setback, a reasonable possibility of a setback, then we'll probably just save him."

GOODEN RUNS WITH THE STARTERS: Tavares Gooden worked with the first-team defense at inside linebacker next to All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

He was out of the red jersey he wore Monday that signified he was off-limits to contact due to neck and back soreness.

Gooden and Dannell Ellerbe are competing with Jameel McClain, who started the preseason opener against the Washington Redskins.

Is Gooden going to start Saturday night against the Washington Redskins?

"It's not up to me, that's for the coaches to decide," Gooden said. "I'm good with [that]. Why not play all of us? You don't want to just burn out one guy.

"It helps out our team depth that all of us can play, and I'm talking about play well when we're in there. We're going to ball out. Everybody is just holding up our own."

Gooden made the point that all of the linebackers will complement Lewis, and he complimented general manager Ozzie Newsome for assembling the group.

"Everybody knows this is Ray's defense, and we're all pieces to the puzzle," Gooden said. "He's the master plan, and all of us fit around him to do that. Mr. Newsome does a great job. We've probably got the realest linebacker corps in the NFL."

The only topic Gooden was unwilling to discuss in detail was his health status.

"All the injury things, coach Harbaugh would like to address," Gooden said. "It was his decision to give me a red jersey. He wants to answer every question about injuries.

"I can't answer questions technically about injuries. You've got to talk to the man. You saw me practicing. I practiced both days. That's all I can tell you about the injury situation."

ANOTHER HEAYVWEIGHT FIGHT FOR COUSINS: Offensive tackle Oniel Cousins got in another practice scuffle, squaring off with outside linebacker Edgar Jones.

Conservatively, it's at least his third fight since camp started.

"They might be coming after me," Cousins said with a smile.

Cousins is running with the first-team offense at right tackle.

Does he fight to prove he's tough?

"In life in general, and in football, every day I come out here and I always feel like I have something to prove," Cousins said. "I wake up every day and appreciate every day of my life. I feel like I have something to prove every day. The chip is always on my shoulder."

During the fight, Jones ripped off Cousins' helmet. And Cousins responded with a right-hand punch.

"It's just a little something we got into," Cousins said. "It's part of practice. By the end of the day, we're friends again. It's hot out there, and sometimes you need that excitement."

PLAYING IT SAFE: The Ravens didn't have Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice carry the football or catch it out of the backfield against the Panthers.

"Ray's a competitor. He wants to play," Harbaugh said. "And we'll be smart with Ray. He'll play as much as he needs to in the next few games, but Ray is going to play a lot in the regular season, too."

Rice worked out of the Wildcat formation Tuesday, taking a direct snap from center Chris Chester. He also took a handoff from backup Willis McGahee following a direct snap.

"We do a lot of stuff, so teams have to prepare for that," Harbaugh said. "I'm sure the Jets will be lining up against that now ."

QUICK HITS: The following players didn't practice: offensive tackles Jared Gaither (strained back, back spasms) and Stefan Rodgers (shoulder), center-guard Daniel Sanders (shoulder), Birk, Hale and safety Marcus Paschal (right quadriceps). ... Reed, running back Matt Lawrence (knee), Webb and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) are still on the physically unable to perform list. ... The Ravens hosted several hundred military personnel at practice from several branches of the military. All of the players as well as Harbaugh signed autographs and posed for pictures. The coaches wore camouflage hats during the practice. "We're really proud of what all the personnel in the military all across the country and overseas have done for us," Harbaugh said. "To see the sacrifices their families make and some of the things they have to endure so that we can live the way we do and enjoy freedom and safety the way we do, I just can't thank them enough. This is a very small token of our appreciation from the Ravens and all the Ravens fans." ... Cornerback Cary Williams intercepted a pass that ricocheted off the hands of rookie wide receiver David Reed. ... Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff both knocked in 51-yard field goals.

PROJECTING 53: A first take on the Ravens final 53 man roster

Quarterbacks (2): Joe Flacco, Marc Bulger

Analysis: The Ravens have too much talent at other positions, players more worthy of a roster spot than a third string quarterback. Let’s not get too carried away and conclude that the team’s wildcat options disappear with Troy Smith’s departure. When were those options ever used in a plus way against a difficult opponent? Truth be told, a quarterback of Smith’s caliber can be found atop the scrap heap of quarterbacks anytime, anywhere, any day. Even Smith might be the one down the road (if needed) atop that heap. After all the former Heisman winner apparently attracts little interest around the league. Even the Browns opted for the mighty Seneca Wallace over Smith preferring instead to hold on to their sixth round pick.

Running Backs (4): Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, Jalen Parmele

Analysis: Curtis Steele needs some seasoning and Coach Wilbert Montgomery has been working with him to change up his pacing, to let plays develop and not always go at top end speed. Steele has explosiveness in short spaces and if he can make special teams contributions he has a shot. Matt Lawrence who was among the final 53 in ’09 has yet to take the practice field and looks like an injury settlement waiting to happen.

Tight Ends (3): Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta

Analysis: This may be the easiest position on the team to assemble. 2009 fifth round draft pick Davon Drew has no chance to make this squad and looks like a wasted pick than no one in the organization wants to take credit/blame for.

Wide Receivers (5): Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Donte Stallworth, Demetrius Williams

Analysis: Williams is among the five to make the final 53 based purely (at this time) on the number of reps he was given with the second team offensive unit v. the Panthers. This spot is still far too close to call. Williams’ primary threat looks like rookie David Reed with Justin Harper and Marcus Smith a distant 7 and 8.

Offensive Linemen (9): Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Chris Chester, Oniel Cousins, Tony Moll, David Hale

Analysis: Hale is far from a lock. No one has really stepped up for the ninth roster spot on the O-Line and it's not necessarily a given that 9 is the number. Stefan Rodgers has looked decent at times during camp but looked lost against Carolina. Joe Reitz has some upside (accept in his vertical leap) but might be a better practice squad option. Bryan Mattison is heady in the way you might expect from a coach’s son (Greg Mattison) but he lacks size and explosiveness. Ramon Harewood will not be released. He could end up on the final 53 man roster but he’s more likely to come up with a mysterious injury that will land him on IR in the same way that Tony Pashos did during his rookie season.

Defensive Linemen (7): Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, Cory Redding, Terrence Cody, Kelly Talavou, Lamar Divens

Analysis: Unless they can pull off a trade the Ravens will lose a quality defensive lineman who can be productive in a D-Line rotation. Talavou, Divens, Brandon McKinney and Art Jones are all very close. The Ravens could try to find a way to have 8 defensive linemen if they don’t make a trade or someone like Jones could also get the “Pashos treatment.”

Linebackers (10): Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain, Antwan Barnes, Paul Kruger, Prescott Burgess

Analysis: This position looks fairly set but the tenth slot boils down to Burgess and Jason Phillips. Burgess has been a plus contributor on special teams and plays the weak side position while Phillips is an inside backer where the team seems pretty set with Lewis, McClain, Ellerbe and Gooden. Phillips will need to really impress special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. Ayanbadejo hasn't practiced yet and PUP is a possibility which could free up a spot for Phillips or a contributor at another position. Should Sergio Kindle make a remarkable recovery he could alter the make up of this unit. At this point Kindle looks to be a lock for the PUP List but word is that the Ravens view this as the most optimistic outlook for the former Longhorn. Kindle is still without a contract and will not get one until he is medically cleared to play football.

Secondary (10): Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura, Fabian Washington, Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, Ken Hamlin, Cary Williams, Travis Fisher

Analysis: Fisher at this time seems to be a safe choice given his experience and number of reps with the first unit throughout camp. If not for injury and Williams' lack of availability in weeks 1 & 2, Fisher would be in jeopardy. That said he is hardly safe. Prince Miller gained some fans with his play against Carolina but he lacks size and isn’t as physical as a similarly sized predecessor, Corey Ivy. The Ravens ask their nickel to blitz on occasion. It would be difficult to envision Miller bringing down Ben Roethlisberger. Chris Hawkins could step up and there’s always the chance the team could make a deal for another corner. KJ Gerard showed promise during OTA’s but he’s been mostly a spectator during camp, slowed by a hamstring injury. Nakamura’s productivity could threaten Hamlin’s spot on the team if Reed does not go on the PUP list. Doug Dutch is purely a warm body to eat up practice reps.

Special Teams (3): Billy Cundiff, Morgan Cox, Sam Koch

Analysis: The Ravens would love to have a kicker who can nail an occasional 50+ yarder and history suggests that Shayne Graham is more likely to provide that ability. But Graham has so far lacked Cundiff’s consistency and one has to wonder if Graham has a bit of a kicker’s hangover after his playoff struggles last season as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. Cox takes over for Matt Katula in what appears to be at least in part an fiscal decision.

TRAINING CAMP DAY 12: Ravens say goodbye to a good guy

The Matt Katula era is over in Baltimore after five years, and rookie Morgan Cox is the Ravens' new long snapper.

The Ravens cut Katula on Saturday roughly two years after signing him to a five-year contract extension to make room for undrafted rookie defensive back Brad Jones.

Cox impressed the coaching staff tremendously during his audition Thursday night in a 17-12 win over the Carolina Panthers, convincing them it was time to make a change.

"Morgan Cox, he's been doing a real good job throughout the offseason and then throughout training camp," Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters Saturday "You never want to make a move until you know in a game. He did a nice job, and we feel comfortable that he can be our snapper. So, we're going with the younger guy."

Katula dealt with chronic tendinitis in his snapping elbow and forearm last season, causing some errant snaps.

Katula has continually insisted he's healthy, and Harbaugh indicated that wasn't an issue and wasn't the impetus behind this decision.

"No, he's fully healthy," Harbaugh said. "Matt's a very good snapper. There's no question he can do it in this league. There's a couple things I think he's still working on, he's cleaning up a little bit from last year.

"We had a younger guy that looked good, and that's sometimes the nature of the business. Talking to Matt, he understood and I'm very confident he'll be snapping for somebody this year."

Cox was signed by the Ravens after going undrafted at the University of Tennessee.

He was selected to play in the prestigious Senior Bowl.

"It's a great opportunity," Cox said. "The big thing I wanted to concentrate on in the game is getting the job done. I looked at it like I was the guy and it was my game and my position. I'm incredibly excited.

"I want to do the best for the team. I just want to snap it as good as I can. I want to stay anonymous in that light. You've got to perfect every time. My standard for myself is to be perfect every time."

TODAY'S PRACTICES CANCELLED: Harbaugh decided to give the players today off, cancelling both practice sessions.

The Ravens will reconvene for practice at McDaniel College at 8:45 a.m. on Monday.
"They were a little bit surprised," Harbaugh said. "They didn't say much. They didn't really respond. I think they were looking for the catch, they were ready for the ‘but.' The truth is, I don't think it's a reward. It's where we're at right now.
"It's a reward in the sense that they've earned it. We have worked really hard throughout training camp, coaches and players. I think the best thing for us is a little recovery time. I like where we're at right now as a football team. Really, the best thing for us is to give them the chance to get a jumpstart on their legs."
Wide receiver Mark Clayton, who caught a 30-yard touchdown against the Panthers, was surprised.

"I thought he was going to come back and say, ‘Ha ha, got you,'" Clayton said. "The whole room was just quiet: ‘Is he serious or is he playing' We're just grateful for it. I know we'll take advantage of it and rest up and come out Monday and give it everything we've got."

JONES SIGNED: The Ravens made it official with Jones, signing him one day after striking an agreement in principle.

A former University of Cincinnati cornerback and safety, Jones was signed this spring after participated in the Ravens' minicamp on a tryout basis.

He was cut at the end of the Ravens' organized team activity schedule.

Jones tried out for the Cleveland Browns this spring.

A 6-foot, 192-pounder, Jones flew under the radar during the draft process after not being invited to the NFL scouting combine.

JAWS' COMMENTS CLARIFIED: Days after ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski said that backup quarterback Marc Bulger seemed deflated and not into football anymore, Ravens team spokesman Kevin Byrne said he believes that the former NFL quarterback was referencing a conversation with Bulger from last season when he played for the 1-15 St. Louis Rams.

"I think Ron Jaworski was referring to a meeting when Marc was at St. Louis," Byrne said. "He was not referring to the production meeting here. I think that's what got misinterpreted because Jon Gruden gave a preface about Bulger getting beat up in St. Louis, and then he came back and said, ‘Yeah, in the production meeting.' He didn't clarify, but I did check with Ron."

Harbaugh said he hasn't noticed any signs of Bulger not being into the game.

"I haven't seen that, I don't know how you know if you can read a guy's mind," he said. "Marc has never said that. He didn't say that in that meeting from what Marc told me and I've seen nothing but an energetic, competitive guy who loves football out here. He's competitive, he's into everything we do. He was excited about the good throws in the game, he was disappointed with the bad plays. He's done a great job."

QUICK HIT: Harbaugh said it's too soon to declare a leader in the Ravens' kicking competition between Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff.

Graham missed a 50-yard try against Carolina and hit a 32-yarder. Cundiff connected on two extra points and had two touchbacks.

"I think it's too early to say," Harbaugh said. "They've both done well. I think Shayne's kick in the game was a tough one. He wants to make that kick, but it was a tough kick."

TRAINING CAMP DAY 13: Cousins keeps Gaither's seat warm

Oniel Cousins would be the Baltimore Ravens’ starting right offensive tackle if the regular season began today, according to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

With Jared Gaither sidelined for as much as six weeks with a small tear in his back that’s causing him back spasms, the Ravens are prepared to go with Cousins on the right side instead of shifting right guard Marshal Yanda over to tackle again.

Cameron didn’t entirely rule out the idea of moving Yanda again, but it’s not his preference.

“Absolutely,” Cameron said when asked if Yanda at right tackle is a possibility. “But you can’t move guys around too much. I think Marshal Yanda can be as good a right guard as there is in the league. I believe that. To keep bouncing him around from guard to tackle, guard to tackle, really doesn’t help that.”

As long as Gaither is out, it’s likely to be Cousins’ job to lose. He ranks ahead of rookie Ramon Harewood as well as Joe Reitz and Tony Moll.

“That would be the logical choice because that’s the way we did it last year,” Cameron said. “We want competition all the way up until the final cut, and then it’ll be pretty obvious what direction we’ll go. But that would be the logical direction.”

Cousins was out for the first week of training camp after having a noncancerous cyst removed from his esophagus this offseason.

Cousins has nearly gotten back up to his playing weight of 320 pounds after getting down to 290 pounds due to the illness. He needs to continue to refine his pass-blocking techniques.

“He’s not 100 percent yet, but his effort is 100 percent,” Cameron said. “One thing I like about ‘Cous’ is you know exactly what you’re getting. He’s not one guy one day and another guy the next day. He shows up. He’s there every day. He’s where he’s supposed to be, he gives you his best effort.

“Sometimes, he doesn’t execute the play like he would like or we would like, but his effort is consistent. Pretty much, a play-caller can deal with a guy like that. To me, it’s easy to call plays when he’s in there because I know I’m going to get a great effort.”

WEBB DOESN’T WANT TO RUSH IT: Injured cornerback Lardarius Webb doesn't think it would be a good idea for him to play in any of the preseason games.

He remains on the physically unable to perform list after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last December.

"I’m hoping it’s not," Webb said when asked if playing in the preseason was a realistic expectation. "For what? I’m still, like, seven months, and we still have a lot of work to do. We have to make sure it’s right before I come back on.”

The Ravens would like to get Webb back for the season opener against the New York Jets on Sept. 13.

That might be a little soon even though Webb is making impressive progress and is able to run and cut.

“I’m feeling good, getting better any day," Webb said. "No time limit. Not for ya’ll. We’re coming. We don’t want everybody to know if I am coming back."

Webb said he's not in much pain at all.

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

“I’m happy because I have put in everything I could possibly put in to it. Being here every day, working hard after practice, working it. I’m happy with where I am, because, hey, I’m pushing it as far as I can go.”

AYANBADEJO’S LEG STILL ISN’T READY: Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo remains on the physically unable to perform list after tearing his quadriceps tendon last season.

And he's unsure if that status will change heading into the regular season.

"It's tough to say," Ayanbadejo said. "If I can get back in the preseason, I'd love to. But it's not really up to me. I've just got to keep doing my rehab, and see how it goes."

Ayanbadejo had a plasma injection in his quadriceps recently to enrich the injured area with amino acids to accelerate tissue healing and growth. The procedure was administered in Arizona.

On Thursday, he's expected to be cleared to resume running.

"I feel fine, just getting the strength back in my leg is the main issue," Ayanbadejo said. "It's coming back slowly, very slowly, but at least it's coming back."

INJURY UPDATE: Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden injured his neck and back against the Carolina Panthers last week and practiced Monday in a red jersey, meaning he’s off-limits to contact.

“Tavares has had a little bit of a bad back,” defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. “He got hurt. He came out of the game. He got hit from the side and he twisted his neck, which carried on down into his back.”

Gooden recorded a sack against the Panthers.

Defensive tackle Brandon McKinney didn’t practice due to some swelling in his right knee.

“I’m just a little bit sore,” he said. “I’ll be back soon.”

Defensive tackle Lamar Divens’ left ankle was taped up after leaving practice with a trainer, but he wasn’t limping noticeably by the afternoon.

Tight end Davon Drew has aggravated a hamstring injury for the second time since camp started.“It’s the same thing, it’s nagging me again,” Drew said. “I kind of tweaked it Saturday. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I’m taking it one day at a time.”

Also not practicing: Gaither (strained back), safety Marcus Paschal (right quadriceps), center Matt Birk (elbow), offensive guard Daniel Sanders (left shoulder).

Cornerback Travis Fisher returned to practice after sitting out Saturday.
The following players remain on the physically unable to perform list: safety Ed Reed (hip), Webb, Ayanbadejo and running back Matt Lawrence (knee).

QUICK HITS: Defensive end Paul Kruger put his bulked-up body to good use, dominating a one-on-one lineman drill. Up to 275 pounds after finishing last season at 255 pounds, Kruger beat Michael Oher, Joe Reitz, Ben Grubbs and Tony Moll for sacks. “I’ve always been pretty confident,” Kruger said. “I feel good at this weight and things are going well. Not being as big, I try to use my athletic ability to be productive. I’m going to work on that a lot. That’s going to be my main advantage.” …Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg expressed confidence in rookie long snapper Morgan Cox, who has replaced Matt Katula. Cox handled all of the snapping duties last week against the Carolina Panthers. “That was a very positive experience,” Rosburg said. “He had one errant snap on a punt, but his field goal snaps were all right on target. He’s shown us that he can not only snap, but he can also protect. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s the right kind of player, he’s the right kind of young man and we have a lot of confidence in him going forward.” … Retired former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and wide receiver Qadry Ismail attended practice. .. Cameron wasn’t pleased with his play-calling in the second half against Carolina as the Ravens gained just 29 yards of total offense. “I flunked the second half, so everybody’s off the hook in the second half of that game,” Cameron said. “Give Cam Cameron an ‘F’ in the second half, and give anybody that played in the second half a passing grade. We’ll do a pass-fail in the second half. You’ve got to give your guys a chance. We don’t just call the same plays with one group that you call in another group and expect them to work."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

TRAINING CAMP DAY 11: Grubbs joins the list of injured Ravens

Offensive guard Ben Grubbs became the latest player to join the Baltimore Ravens' lengthy injury report, limping off the field Tuesday morning at McDaniel College.

Although the injury isn't regarded as serious, the veteran blocker could be among several players who will be held out of Thursday night's preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers for precautionary reasons.

The injury wasn't disclosed, but Grubbs has a history of foot and ankle problems. If Grubbs is out, Chris Chester will start in his place at left guard.

"It's not major," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Whether he'll play Thursday night or not, we're going to be cautious with all that kind of stuff."

Meanwhile, offensive tackle Jared Gaither has all but been ruled out for the Carolina game.

Gaither, who's down to 311 pounds from a playing weight of 340 pounds last season, has been plagued by back spasms throughout 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. It will be hard for him to play with the little bit of practice he's had."

Oniel Cousins is preparing to start in Gaither's place.

Cornerback Chris Carr has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury Saturday, but hasn't been ruled out.

He's not expected to play.

If Carr is out along with Fabian Washington, Travis Fisher will start at cornerback opposite Cary Williams. Undrafted rookie Prince Miller is slated for nickel back duty.

Carr hasn't practiced since getting injured Saturday, but has been getting healthier.

"He could play," Harbaugh said of Carr. "It's a matter of whether we decide to put him out there or not."

Washington, who had a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season, has been practicing since being activated from the physically unable to perform list earlier in training camp.

If it were up to Washington, he would play Thursday. He's expected to be a game-time decision.

"I still don't know, it's up to coach Harbaugh," Washington said. "If it's up to me, yeah. I'm not the smart one out of the two."

When asked if he would accept not being allowed to play, Washington replied, "I would understand that. He knows how I feel about this game."

Ultimately, the team will decide Thursday night before kickoff if it wants to hold him out.

"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 in pregame and see how much work we get done and we'll decide. We're not going to push it."

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata returned to practice after suffering back spasms when he caught a helmet in his back Monday morning.

"I feel good," Ngata said. "So, I'm going to play."

GETTING READY: Cousins is preparing to start at right tackle after being sidelined earlier in camp on the non-football illness list following offseason throat surgery to remove a noncancerous cyst from his esophagus.

"I'm going to do my thing," Cousins said. "Every day is important for me to try to do my thing and take my game to the next level."

Cousins said he has regained most of the weight he lost while dealing with the illness.

Down to 290 pounds at one point from his former playing weight of 320 pounds, Cousins said he's back up to 315 pounds.

"I'm getting stronger," he said. "I'm putting my weight back on. I feel good."

The coaching staff has been impressed by Cousins' progress.

"I think what Oniel 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."

KICKERS TO ALTERNATE: Instead of their originally announced plan to have dueling kickers Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff kick for one half apiece, the Ravens have called an audible.

Now, special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg has decided to have the kickers alternate on each field goal try.

"That's what coach Rosburg wants to do," Harbaugh said. "He feels like it'll keep both guys in the game for the whole game and give them a fair amount of reps. So, we're looking forward to that."

Harbaugh said he thought that they would alternate kickoffs, too.

Graham had a huge miss Tuesday where he sailed the football several yards wide left.

INJURY REPORT: Offensive tackle Tony Moll said he's still dealing with the effects of a concussion, including headaches.

"I'm trying to get rid of them," Moll said. "Concussions are something the NFL has been focusing on this year more than ever. They're taking it very seriously. I think it's a good thing. I'm almost there. It's definitely very frustrating and challenging. This isn't an issue I've had before."

In order to be cleared medically, Moll has to pass an NFL-mandated baseline test to examine his brain functions.

"They do a good job with that," Moll said. "When you come into a new system, they redo your baseline and it sets the standard for you. It's a good take when you do that test. It's a lot of memorization and quick reactions. Being able to stay up with the baseline shows your brain can handle the NFL asks you to do."

Cornerback K.J. Gerard didn't practice as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Safety Marcus Paschal is still sidelined with a right quadriceps issue.

"It's up to the coaches," Gerard said. "I'm feeling better every day. I'm ready to get out there and run again."

Reserve offensive lineman Daniel Sanders has an injured shoulder and didn't practice Tuesday.

"I'm doing a lot of rehab stuff since I popped my shoulder," he said. "It's not a dislocation, so I should be back in a few days. I'll take a little time and then I'll be back."

Rookie offensive tackle Ramon Harewood returned to practice after being out Monday. Both of his knees were still wrapped.

Wide receiver Demetrius Williams returned to practice after missing Monday with an undisclosed injury.

Still on the physically unable to perform list: safety Ed Reed (hip), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps), cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and running back Matt Lawrence (knee).

QUICK HITS: Inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who's in the lead for the starting job next to middle linebacker Ray Lewis, said that he's always been ready to play in the NFL. "I knew I belonged 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. So, it's not like I came here wide-eyed, like, ‘Man, I don't deserve this.' I understand that you've got to work for everything in life, so I'm my biggest critic and my biggest fan." ... McClain's hand is bandaged, but he said it's not a problem. "My hand is perfect," he said. "It's because I'm getting my shadow boxing on, that's all. The air hurts." ... A feisty defense recorded consecutive sacks with outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and strong safety Dawan Landry applying the heat. ... Justin Harper caught a long pass from Marc Bulger behind Williams.