Baltimore Ravens

For most veteran players, an OTA absence won't hurt

When Pro Bowl outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil missed the first of three voluntary practices last week, there wasn't much concern.

And if both, along with veteran defensive end Chris Canty miss the organized team activities this week, it won't be a big deal, either.


OTAs are such ho-hum affairs. They have purpose, but only under certain circumstances. For veterans, being a no-show is no big deal. Their basic game plan is to show up for one of the three, then the mandatory minicamp and then training camp.

A lot of NFL head coaches feel differently, but that's because they are control freaks. They believe every minute of every day should be consumed with football and preparation for the regular season.


The concept is great, just not practical. OTAs are excellent for new head coaches as well as new coordinators and young players who have been in the league fewer than three years. It's the perfect time to install base offenses and defenses, get acquainted with new teammates, learn practice style and tempo and get as many repetitions as possible.

But after seven years in the NFL, does offensive guard Marshal Yanda need this? No. How about center Jeremy Zuttah, another seven-year veteran? No. Even though Marc Trestman is installing a new offense, it's a system similar to that of former coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Certain veterans, though, should show up for all the OTAs, especially those whose jobs are on the line or those who missed most of last season because of injuries.

Last week, the entire starting offensive line was not there on the only day practice was open to the media. Left tackle Eugene Monroe should have been there. He missed four games a year ago with a knee injury and another with an ankle problem. He started 11 games last season, but wasn't overly impressive.

He should be at OTAs.

Second-year played James Hurst played well filling in for Monroe last season, which should force Monroe to look over his shoulder, and re-establish himself as the starter.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb needs to do the same. He has a home, but needs to prove himself again. He was solid at the end of last season, but there are still concerns about his health after dealing with leg injuries the past three seasons.

There are similar concerns about Jimmy Smith who missed the second half of last season with a sprained foot. But he showed up last week — why not Webb?


The Ravens got a bonus when veterans like receiver Steve Smith and inside linebacker Daryl Smith practiced. It was like a clinic for the young receivers watching Steve Smith, whose work ethic is as strong as any Raven who has played in Baltimore. The Ravens need that type of influence with former receiver Torrey Smith now playing in San Francisco.

Daryl Smith showed up because he is smart, and so is outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. They understand the business side of the NFL. At age 33, Daryl Smith knows he is in the twilight of his career and wants to show team officials his desire is still strong.

Upshaw has struggled with weight problems during the past two offseasons. But at the end of last year, he became more of a complete player, finally developing as a pass rusher. If he reports to training camp in shape, this could be a big year for Upshaw, who is in the final season of his current contract.

Suggs, Dumervil and Canty don't have as many concerns. Through the years they have had their bodies beaten and prodded on. Two years ago, both Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees recognized that some of their veterans didn't have much energy at the end of the 2013 season.

Both coaches did masterful jobs last season of subbing for Suggs and Dumervil, and both played reasonably well at the end of 2014. Suggs came to training camp in great shape nearly a year ago after gaining too much weight in 2013. Dumervill came into 2014 bigger, but it certainly was more muscle than fat.

The 2015 Ravens are going to need younger players to step up, like rookie receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams. Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan will have to anchor the defensive line, and second-year running back Lorenzo Taliaferro will have to give starter Justin Forsett some relief.


They need the practice time, and they will be there for most of the OTAs. But as for some of the veterans, they can't afford injuries and the extra rest will do them well.

They just need to show up for the mandatory camp in mid-June, and get in shape for training camp nearly a month later.