SETTING THE SCENE: Tuesday's outdoor practice started at 2:30 p.m. and ended at 4:35 p.m. Temperatures were in the high 60s and a light mist dampened the practice fields. With the preseason opener looming Thursday night, players were in shells for the first time since July 27 and the practice resembled a walkthrough.
SMOOTH OPERATOR: Cornerback Lardarius Webb looks so much more comfortable than he did two weeks ago. You can see the difference when he participates in individual position drills early in every practice. His footwork is smooth again, and Tuesday he was backpedaling on a slick field, planting his cleats into the ground and accelerating forward. Webb has been running and cutting effortlessly, and it looks like he is no longer thinking about what his legs are doing. He probably won't play Thursday night, but we could see him at some point during the preseason.
FRONT AND CENTER: Gino Gradkowski entered camp as the frontrunner to replace Matt Birk at center, but over the past few days, newcomer A.Q. Shipley has seemingly gotten more snaps with the first-team offense. With his short, stocky frame, Shipley looks like he could moonlight as a night club bouncer. He doesn't mind getting physical, as he showed the other day when he stoned linebacker Josh Bynes on an inside blitz. We'll see which guy gets the start in Tampa Bay.
HEADS UP, QUARTERBACKS: It was only for a couple of snaps, but the Ravens trotted out a defensive front that could disrupt a quarterback's sleeping patterns. Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee all rushed the quarterback while six defensive backs — three cornerbacks and three safeties — were in coverage. The Ravens might not be able to use that on shorter third-down distances, but it could be scary on third and long.
GETTING UP TO SPEED: A lot of passes went tight end Visanthe Shiancoe's way during a slow-paced practice. The receivers sometimes jogged and defensive backs rarely contested passes, but it looked as if the Ravens are making a concerted effort to get Shiancoe integrated into the offense as quickly as possible. He and quarterback Joe Flacco often talk after plays.
IS THERE ANYTHING HE CAN'T DO?: Kicker Justin Tucker, who punted some in college, is the team's emergency punter. On Tuesday, he stood near the 50-yard line and dropped a few punts inside the 10-yard line. Later in practice, Tucker made a one-handed catch as the Ravens ran a fake punt play. What's next? Playing defensive end?
FALLING BEHIND THE PACK: Wide receiver Tommy Streeter is buried on the depth chart behind LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette and even Marlon Brown, who is just coming back from a knee injury suffered in college. Streeter might as well wear a single-digit number at this point.
STREETER IS NOT ALONE: Another 2012 draft pick has gotten passed on the depth chart. Safety Christian Thompson is a hard hitter with speed, but he might lack the instincts to play at the NFL level. His roster spot could be in jeopardy, but his four-game suspension to start the season might actually benefit him because he won't count against the 53-man roster until Week 5.
DON'T STOP BELIEVING: The harmonious musical stylings of Journey blared over the speakers at one point, and rookie nose tackle Brandon Williams appeared to be mouthing the words to "Don't Stop Believing" on the sideline as defensive end Chris Canty bobbed his head next to him.
INJURY REPORT: Tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring), cornerback Chris Johnson (undisclosed) and safety Omar Brown (undisclosed) sat out practice for a second straight day. Wide receiver David Reed (groin) missed his third straight practice. Linebacker Daryl Smith and nose tackle Terrence Cody returned to practice after being given the day off Monday. Guard-tackle Jah Reid appeared to be pulled out of practice, but he didn't head inside the building. Guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and linebacker Jameel McClain (bruised spine) remained sidelined.
OVERHEARD: Asked by a fan if he could rush for 2,500 yards this season, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice responded, "I can do 1,800. 2,500? That's a lot of yards."
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