PHILADELPHIA — Ravens starting right tackle Rick Wagner couldn't finish practice Wednesday after suffering an apparent leg injury, forcing a second-year player who has largely toiled under the radar onto the field in the first day of joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles.
James Hurst, who last year started five games and became the first undrafted rookie to start a playoff game at left tackle, was thrust into the first-team fold in an opportunity he said was necessary.
"Obviously you don't want anyone to sit out or whatever, but last year, I got put in the fire," Hurst said. "I hadn't gotten reps, and to go out there in a game is tough. You're playing in the NFL, you've got great guys out there, but just to go out there and get 20, 30 reps at right tackle was awesome, going against that competition and everything."
Wagner, who started the first 15 games of the season at right tackle before a season-ending Lisfranc foot injury, had ramped up his participation throughout the offseason before he went down around halfway through practice Wednesday. He didn't leave the practice field, but while on the sidelines had an ice bag in his football pants in the area of his left hip. Coach John Harbaugh didn't provide an update on the injury.
Hurst is seen more as a left tackle than a right tackle, but veteran Jah Reid, the team's top backup at right tackle, hasn't practiced since Saturday. That Hurst's opportunity came against the Eagles' first-team defense is only better preparation as he enters his second year, he said.
"When you practice against your team, over and over and over, you start to play against the guy, not as much your technique," Hurst said. "Seeing a new face and seeing a new skillset is good, it keeps you honest and it helps you going into the season."
Offensive line coach Juan Castillo said there's no concern about having someone like Hurst deputize.
"He was a starter last year for us," Castillo said. "I look at it like this: when he started last year, he's a starter. … So whenever something happens, we're good."