No Ravens player was more enthusiastic about Thursday’s opening practice of training camp than defensive end Brent Urban, who had not been on the field since suffering a Lisfranc injury on the second play of the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 24.
After practice, Urban acknowledged that he missed football greatly and said his objective is to “be an impact player.”
“The goal is to get back to where I left off,” he said. “I’m coming into it feeling pretty good. Mentally, I’m a lot more mature, and I feel like I can do just what I was doing last year. That’s the goal, to get back into the swing of things. We even have an extra week of training camp. So I think that will help me just acclimate and get used to things at a slower pace, which is a good thing for me because I’ve been out of it for so long.”
Urban was one of the defense’s top performers last preseason, totaling seven tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. He made four tackles in three starts in the regular season before suffering the injury — which can involve broken bones or torn ligaments in the midfoot area — and sitting out the final 13 games, which ended with the team missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year after a stunning 31-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 31.
“The good thing about it is, I’ve been through it before,” said Urban, who tore the ACL in his right knee during training camp of his rookie year and then tore his biceps in camp the following summer. “So I kind of know how to go into it mentally. But at the same time, it sucked. You’re watching your team play every week, wishing you could get in there and help out any way you can, but you just can’t. You’ve got to get your mind wrapped around that. It was tough, but all of that disappointment makes me a lot more excited to be out here now. I feel like I’m a lot stronger mentally.”
Urban said he has been running on the foot “for a while now,” but conceded that the true test will come when he puts on the pads and participates in full-contact exercises during training camp. Still, he was encouraged by his first session.
“I’ve been waiting since October to get out there,” Urban said. “So it was a long time, and I’m excited to get back out there with my teammates and get back into the swing of things. Just a great first day. I missed the game a lot, and it feels great to be back.”
By virtue of their participation in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2, the Ravens are getting more an extra week to practice and prepare for the regular season. Harbaugh suggested that the NFL might want to contemplate adding a week of training camp before the opening of training camp to help teams reduce the number of injuries in the preseason. “Maybe this is an idea that the powers-would-be would consider,” he said. “An acclimation is really important. If we can get a week instead of two days — not to push it back so we have a shorter time to get our guys ready to play football, but to put it in front of training camp — where we can get our guys ramped up for the collisions and the hard movements and all that that go with football, maybe we could avoid some of these first two- or three-day injuries that we get a lot during training camp.” … Wide receiver Michael Crabtree said quarterback Joe Flacco made the call to gather several wideouts and tight ends for a pair of workouts last week at Northwest Regional Park across from the team’s training facility in Owings Mills. “That’s the leader,” Crabtree said. “[We] do whatever he says. If we’ve got something we bring to the table, then we make it work.” … Running back Alex Collins had some advice for fantasy football owners considering selecting him in their upcoming drafts. “Draft me now before it’s too late, guys.”