Blocking out talk of being the backup

Chris Chester isn't getting comfortable in his role.

The team's backup center behind Jason Brown on the depth chart, Chester said he has not given up on his goal to crack the starting lineup when the Ravens open the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 7.


"Well, it's so early to say something like that," Chester said when asked whether he was disappointed he had been relegated to the second-team offensive line after Brown was penciled in as the starting center during the offseason. "Obviously, I'd like to have the job right off the bat, but I know that nothing worthwhile comes easy. So if I'm going to be the guy, I'm going to have to work and continue to get better."

Chester spent last season backing up then-starter Mike Flynn after being drafted as a guard in the second round in 2006. At 6 feet 3 and 305 pounds, Chester is an athletic lineman who is versatile enough to play guard, center or even tight end.


The one knock, however, against Chester has been that he doesn't have the bulk to deal with interior defensive linemen. At times, Chester has struggled against Kelly Talavou and Lorenzo Williams in training camp, but Chester said he has a short memory.

"My role is to attack each rep like I'm still the starter and just to work hard and try to make the other guys better," he said. "I still see myself as a leader on the team. So I try to get everybody on the same page and make sure that we're all growing up together."

Break from practice

The Ravens' decision to cancel practices yesterday afternoon and this morning wasn't based on the number of injuries that have occurred since training camp began, according to coach John Harbaugh. He said it was a reward for the way the players have been practicing.

"They have earned it," Harbaugh said of the first break in this year's camp. "These guys have worked hard morning after morning. They got out today and did the same thing. They need the rest. We need to get them off their legs. We need to get them home with their wives and kids for 24 hours. I'm proud of them. I'm happy with the way they've worked."

The team went eight straight days with two practices a day before Harbaugh gave the unexpected schedule change. If the Ravens weren't given this break, the first day off would have been Friday, the day after the preseason opener. The players won't report back to training camp until today's 3 p.m. practice.

End zone

As has been the norm, Harbaugh declined to single out any of the quarterbacks before the team's preseason opener against the New England Patriots on Thursday night. "I think it's too early to be able to separate yet because we haven't had any game action," he said. "Nobody has jumped ahead of the other guys in the live action or the drills significantly enough to say it's a 1, 2, 3. We all got our opinions. ... But one thing for certain, they've all gotten better." ... Tight end Todd Heap did not take part in the latter half of practice because of a right calf injury. Without Heap, who had his calf wrapped, Adam Bergen took most of the repetitions at tight end with the first-team offense. ... Wide receiver Mark Clayton (sprained right shoulder) said he hopes to return to practice this afternoon and pledged to play against the Patriots.