There was no live hitting in the Ravens’ training camp practice at Stevenson University Sunday -- or at least there wasn’t supposed to be -- but cornerback Lardarius Webb didn’t feel like he had another option.
Toward the end of the practice, he got such a good break on a Joe Flacco pass that he was powerless to avoid slamming into rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette. Webb made sure that Mellette was OK before engaging in a little trash talk with wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who was on the sideline.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t openly applaud the hit, but he clearly took it as a good sign that the team’s most accomplished cornerback continues to make progress in his recovery from knee surgery.
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"That is a good step for him,” Harbaugh said. “Once he gets in a game and gets his first tackle and all that, that would be a good step for him, and he could kind of stop thinking about those things. That’s what you’re looking for.”
Webb, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last October, has been a limited participant for much of training camp, avoiding significant contact. However, Harbaugh said there’s a “good chance” both Webb and Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, who just started practicing last week after having offseason rotator cuff surgery, could play in Thursday’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium.
“I don’t want to say anything until we get through a couple of more days of practice, but it would be nice to get those guys out there,” Harbaugh said.
The work would be welcomed by Yanda, who admits that he’s a little bit rusty after not participating in any of the offseason on-field workouts and most of training camp. Still, Harbaugh said that the two-time Pro Bowl selection has looked “really good.”
“I just need the timing of the game, my footwork, my timing of my punch, just stuff like that,” Yanda said. “My shoulder feels good. It’s coming along. I’m a little rusty, but [I’m] going to be. I haven’t had the pads on since February. It’s good though. I’m just working every day just like everybody else.”
As for Webb, he said that he didn’t know what Harbaugh’s plans are for him concerning Thursday’s game, but he would be fine “lining up for Week 1” in the Sept. 5 regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos whether he played in the preseason or not.
Long look at young WRs
The Ravens shuffled their lineup at wide receiver Sunday night, using rookies Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown extensively with the first-team offense, along with veteran slot receiver Brandon Stokley.
The young players and Stokley received significantly more playing time than veterans Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss, who normally have a bigger workload with the starting offense.
“What you saw was we're going to give those young guys an opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “Some of the young receivers have done an excellent job. I think we owe it to our team and we owe it to them to see what they can do in there with the first group. We'll practice those guys, and we'll probably play them a little more this week.”
Ravens praise Stevenson
The Ravens' practice Sunday night at Stevenson University brought back a lot of memories for Stokley. When he was drafted by the Ravens in 1999, the team’s offices and practice fields were at the old Baltimore Colts' headquarters.
Now, that old venue has been transformed into a modern university with new athletic facilities and a lot of surrounding development.
“It's unbelievable the changes that have happened since I was last here,” Stokley said. “To come down this street and see it, I didn't recognize it. What a great place, it's nice. This is where I started my career. It brings back a lot of great memories, and I'm looking to create some more.”
The Ravens reported an attendance of 3,100 for the practice, which was followed by players signing autographs.
“Great environment, it's just a great night for football,” Harbaugh said. “It's a beautiful campus, a beautiful summer night. The stadium is beautiful. Everybody here at Stevenson has been fantastic.”
Juszczyk utilized outside
For rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk, Sunday felt like a flashback to his time at Harvard, when he dominated the Ivy League with his pass-catching ability.
Juszczyk was flexed outside in passing drills, smoothly catching several passes from Flacco and Tyrod Taylor for a couple of touchdowns. At Harvard, Juszczyk caught 125 passes for 1,576 yards and 22 touchdowns in a multi-faceted role during which he lined up at tight end, slot receiver and H-back.
“I had a great time,” Juszczyk said. “It was like being back in college again. I was really excited when I found out that they were going to split me out a little bit more. I felt like me and Joe and Tyrod were clicking. This is what I was doing for four years. It comes naturally.”
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who had his left calf wrapped at Saturday’s practice, was given Sunday off by Harbaugh, but he’ll return to the field Monday. “Just giving him a rest,” Harbaugh said. “We just backed him off.” … Wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) will be evaluated again after Thursday’s game, said Harbaugh, who noted that this was always regarded as an injury that would take a couple of weeks to recover from. … Running back Anthony Allen didn't practice for an undisclosed minor injury, but Harbaugh said it’s nothing serious. … Harbaugh reiterated that Josh Bynes remains the starting weak-side linebacker next to middle linebacker Daryl Smith.