The sight of veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu working with the first team at nose tackle, instead of last year’s starter Terrence Cody, attracted plenty of attention this week. In an interview with my colleague Edward Lee, Cody acknowledged that he’s in competition with Kemoeatu at nose tackle, but he also said that part of the reason for him being on the second team was he was learning to play Haloti Ngata’s defensive tackle position. Like every team, the Ravens crave versatility and are always planning for what Orioles manager Buck Showalter calls “what if?” scenarios so the move makes plenty of sense. But it certainly would be interesting to see a front-line of Ngata at defensive end, Cody at defensive tackle and Kemoeatu at nose tackle in obviously run situations. That’s over 1,000 pounds of beef right there.
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Five quick observations: 1. I’ll be interested to watch rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw tonight assuming he plays. Watching him in practice this week, he still looks like he’s hindered with the sore shoulder. He didn’t look as fast, powerful or assertive as he did during the mini-camps; 2. I’ve heard some pundits wonder whether wide receiver Torrey Smith could be a candidate for a sophomore slump. That would surprise me. The guy wants to be a great receiver and he won’t be outworked. Remember, he played most of last season with a double hernia, and he still finished with good numbers; 3. Tonight is a huge game for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. It’s been a quiet camp for him overall and he could use to stay on the field and make a couple of plays; 4. One of the themes this week in practice was dropped passes. The ball didn’t hit the ground much at all for the first couple of weeks of training camp, but that changed this week in a big way; 5. Poor Jah Reid. Expected to compete for a starting job, the second-year tackle misses the first couple of weeks of training camp with a right calf injury. He returns to practice this week and he finds himself under siege by Bernard Pollard and several other Ravens’ defensive backs in Wednesday’s practice scrum. Pollard, by the way, would be one of the last guys you’d want to tangle with on the Ravens.
There are really no new updates in two storylines that have hovered over training camp: Terrell Suggs’ comeback from the torn Achilles, and Joe Flacco’s contract negotiations. Suggs hasn’t spoken to the media since the Ravens’ mandatory veteran minicamp in mid-June. However, he continues to rehab and both he and Ravens coach John Harbaugh still believe that the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year will play at some point this season, likely toward the second half. Nothing with that has changed. As for the Flacco negotiations, all indications point toward a stalemate between both sides right now. However, my gut feeling -- and I repeat, this is my feeling, not based on what sources are saying -- is there still is a decent chance that a long-term extension gets done before the Sept. 10 season opener. The two sides are close enough, where a little compromise on both ends, could complete the deal. Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, has said several times over the last month that a deal could happen in “two hours or two years from now.” Agent speak for sure, but the point remains that enough leg work has been put into this where if both sides are fully committed to getting it done before the season begins, it will get done.
And finally to answer another question that we get a lot, the Ravens will have to cut down their active roster from 90 to 75 by 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 27. Final cuts to get down to 53 then have to be made by Friday, Aug. 31 at 9 p.m.