Gaither ready to toe the line

The Baltimore Sun

Second-year offensive tackle Jared Gaither is not waiting anxiously for the next retirement announcement, the one many at the Ravens complex in Owings Mills expect to come from perennial All-Pro and probable Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden.

While quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Troy Smith took their first snaps yesterday in what new coach John Harbaugh called an open competition to replace Steve McNair, Gaither took his share at left tackle.

"I'm not sure what the situation is [with Ogden]; that's out of my hands," Gaither said after the two-hour workout. "But I'll be ready if he's here, and I'll be a great help if he's here, and I'll be ready to step up if he's not."

After being taken in the fifth round of the NFL supplemental draft out of Maryland last summer, Gaither certainly turned heads in training camp. But like others on the team's young offensive line, he had his ups and downs.

Gaither wound up playing in six games and starting two.

"I feel a lot more comfortable," he said. "I have a whole year under my belt. I know a lot of guys on the offensive line and on the team are looking for a left tackle to step up. I'm going to try to work my hardest to be that guy."

There is no guarantee that Gaither is the team's left tackle of the future. Ogden and Adam Terry are still listed ahead of him, and many believe that the Ravens are looking seriously at Boise State's Ryan Clady to fill that spot with the No. 8 pick in the draft.

Clady was one of a number of draft-eligible players the Ravens have had out to the complex this week.

Did Gaither notice Clady at the practice field yesterday?

"I was focused on practice," Gaither said.

First man down

It is a sight normally reserved for the heat of training camp, not the first minicamp - a player going down with what appeared to be a significant injury.

With about 30 minutes left in yesterday's workout, tight end Quinn Sypniewski gathered in a pass as linebacker Antwan Barnes closed. The two players looked as if they tried to avoid each other, but Barnes bumped Sypniewski, causing him to plant awkwardly with his left leg.

Sypniewski, who caught a career-high 34 passes last season after injuries sidelined Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox, quickly went down, yelling in pain. He stayed on the ground for several minutes and had to be carted off.

Though no diagnosis had yet to be made, Sypniewski told a few teammates that he thought there could be damage to his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. Later, he declined to discuss the injury or what caused it as he limped out on crutches with his injured leg in an aircast.

"I'm not sure of what the situation is, but it happens, guys get bumped into," Harbaugh said. "We'll see what that is."

Showing up

Though not as many players participated yesterday as on Thursday, Harbaugh was pleased with the number of those who turned out for minicamp. Several veterans who normally have been no-shows, most notably linebacker Ray Lewis, have been in Owings Mills this week.

"The fact that all the guys are here, or most of the guys are here, who they were, it's powerful. It's powerful to see a room full of guys," Harbaugh said.

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