As I expected, there was a lot more made of who didn’t show up at this week’s organized team activities than who did. The absences of Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Vonta Leach in particular seemed to spur the most questions. Again, the workouts are voluntary and some players choose to stay home and work out on their own. Coach John Harbaugh pointed out that the team didn’t see Ray Lewis much – if at all – in the offseason. Ed Reed wasn’t exactly a fixture at OTAs either. And Joe Flacco mentioned that Anquan Boldin wasn’t traditionally at the facility this time of year either. The comments weren’t made to disparage any of the three players but the point was made. The Ravens knew that those players would be ready to go when needed, which is the same feeling they have with the likes of Suggs, Ngata, Leach and Marshal Yanda, who also was a no-show. The Ravens have 90 players on their roster and all but about six of them were on the field in some capacity. And another veteran, Jacoby Jones, is expected to arrive today after his third-place finish in Dancing with the Stars. That should be far more the story than the handful of players who didn’t show at a workout they technically didn’t have to be at.
Defensive end Chris Canty was also one of the guys we initially reported as not being out on the practice field. However, Harbaugh mentioned that he was in the building a day earlier and Canty also tweeted about being at Camden Yards for Monday’s Yankees-Orioles game, so he’s been in town.
Second-year wide receiver Deonte Thompson was the talk of training camp last year and if yesterday’s practice session was any indication, he’s ready to have another impactful camp. Thompson was all over the field making tough catches and showing his speed and athleticism. With Jacoby Jones seemingly holding the edge for the No. 2 WR spot, Thompson and Tandon Doss could be in for a spirited competition for the third wide receiver role. Both looked really good yesterday.
Who else looked good? That’s the question I get most often after these offseason workouts and I’m not a huge fan of answering it because we are talking about players wearing shorts and no pads. The defenders don’t stand a chance and no tackling is allowed anyway. Some of the guys that we spent the most time talking about after last year’s OTAs either got cut, went to injured reserve or the practice squad or just made little to no impact during the season. But I do feel comfortable pointing out that tight end Ed Dickson was extremely active and made a bunch of athletic catches. I also thought cornerback Jimmy Smith looked to be in really good shape. It’s hard to tell sometimes, especially when you are used to seeing players in full pads, but he looked pretty lean to me. Smith had talked last year about dropping a few pounds and getting a little quicker. It looks like he’s accomplished that. Another thing that struck me is the size of rookie nose tackle Brandon Williams. You can see why team officials are so excited about the third-round pick. We’ll see how Terrence Cody recovers from hip surgery and how the coaching staff moves around the defensive linemen, but I think Williams has a pretty good chance of starting come Sept. 5 in Denver.
What should be considered the best development of all to Ravens fans from yesterday was cornerback Lardarius Webb running around, making some cuts and going through some drills. Webb, who tore the ACL in his left knee in mid-October, didn’t participate in much of practice but he looked pretty comfortable with what he did do. Webb has been pretty smart about providing updates on his knee, declining at any point to give a target date for his return and repeatedly maintaining that he is not looking too far ahead. Harbaugh has said in the past that he thinks Webb will be ready for training camp, and everything we saw yesterday seemingly supports that.
From the bad news department, rookie linebacker Arthur Brown getting sports hernia surgery is hardly a crushing blow. But it has to raise some concern. Harbaugh said Brown, a second-round pick, had the surgery about two weeks ago and recovery time is about four-to-six weeks. That likely means that Brown will be sidelined for all three weeks of OTAs and probably for the mandatory minicamp, which takes place the second week of June. Brown will still watch from the sidelines and be in the meeting rooms, but all those repetitions are hard to replace for a player who was considered a candidate to start for the Ravens on Day One of the season.
If you are a Ravens fan, you have to love how linebacker Elvis Dumervil has gone about his business since signing with the team in late March following his departure from the Broncos. Dumervil has been at the Ravens’ facility pretty much every day, according to Harbaugh, immersing himself in the offseason conditioning program and now the OTAs, and getting acclimated with his new teammates. It had to be a pretty stunning couple of months for Dumervil, starting with Denver’s disappointing playoff exit at the hands of the Ravens. He agreed to take a pay cut to remain with the Broncos but then found out that he had just been cut instead after the infamous fax machine incident. He then opted to sign with the Ravens over an offer from the Broncos. Dumervil downplayed immediately taking a leadership role with his new team, but as my colleague Kevin Cowherd pointed out in a column today, his actions suggest otherwise.
Nice thoughts by former Chicago Bears’ linebacker Brian Urlacher, who announced his retirement yesterday after 13 seasons in the NFL. In an interview with NFL Network, Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, was asked about possibly going into the Hall of Fame the same year as Lewis. “If I am lucky enough to go in with Ray, I will say this: I think I am pretty good but Ray is the best of all time. His numbers, to the guys that played with him, he did it the right way. He played hard. He is the best middle linebacker of all time. If I get a chance to go into the Hall of Fame with him, that would be awesome. I am up there I think, but not quite. The longevity he had was crazy, 17 years.”