The Ravens returned to the practice field following a day off and found a head coach that was in no mood for poor and lackadaisical play.
Two days after his team’s 44-16 preseason-opening victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, John Harbaugh was as edgy and spirited as he’s been all training camp. He threatened to cut cornerback Asa Jackson for his role in a scuffle, sent wide receiver Aaron Mellette off the field for his effort and repeatedly challenged the offensive line and the defense.
“Good practice, good tough, hard-nosed practice,” Harbaugh said when it was over. “A lot of good, tough, hard-nosed situations. That’s how you develop a tough, hard-nosed football team.”
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Harbaugh’s first target was Jackson, the second-year cornerback who will be suspended the first eight games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Jackson drew Harbaugh’s ire by entering a minor fight between tight end Billy Bajema and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
“Get your squirrelly [butt] out of here,” Harbaugh yelled. “If you ever do that again, you are cut. It’s a penalty and an ejection. Learn the rules.”
A bit later, Harbaugh turned his attention to Mellette. “Get [Mellette] off the field,” he said toward sideline. “He’s lackadaisical. He’s lazy.”
Harbaugh then got on the defense for doing too much whining and complaining. Cornerback Jimmy Smith intercepted Joe Flacco on the next play and ran up to Harbaugh to hand him the ball, a gesture that appeared to amuse the coach.
The tough talk wasn’t confined to the coach. When defensive tackle Art Jones knocked down Ray Rice, the running back threw the ball at him. Harbaugh defended Jones and sent Rice off the field, saying, “He’s too valuable to put on the field if we’re going to block like that.”
Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs also repeatedly yelled across the field at offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. Suggs said at one point, “Hey Jim, what kind of ship are you running over there? If this was a real game, it would be 40-0.”
Ravens cornerback Corey Graham, one of several players to have a talk with Jackson who was clearly bothered by the exchange with his coach, said that he appreciated the tenor of the practice.
“It was a great day out there today,” Graham said. “The offense started out amazing and then the defense picked it up and found a way to make plays. It was a very competitive, fun day. To be honest with you, I really enjoyed myself out there. It was a great day to be a Raven.”