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Ravens rookie James Proche is ‘man for the job’ at punt returner; center Matt Skura still on track to return

“I definitely considered it,” said Campbell. "You can’t play football with this going on and not think about the risk you’re going to put on yourself."

With wide receiver and returner De’Anthony Thomas opting out of the 2020 season, there’s a little less drama at one of the few Ravens positions still up for grabs.

Coach John Harbaugh said Friday that rookie wide receiver James Proche has “got to go win” the punt return job in training camp, but that it’s “James’ role to win.” Wide receiver Willie Snead IV, who returned only kickoffs last season, also is a contender. So is wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who “catches punts every day,” according to Harbaugh, but struggled in the Ravens’ preseason finale last season.

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“We’ll see as we go, but I really like James,” Harbaugh said in a conference call. “He’s a really dedicated, motivated guy, and it’s tough for a rookie to do it. A rookie doing it without preseason games ... that’ll be a challenge, and I believe he’s up for the challenge. He’s the man for the job. But he’s going to have to show us that he’s ready to do it. And I’m pretty sure that there’ll be some competition run at him as well, so we’ll see where that goes in the next few weeks.”

Ravens coaches and officials have hailed Proche’s reliable hands since the team drafted him in the sixth round. At Southern Methodist last season, he returned 17 punts for 164 yards (9.6 yards per return).

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Skura on track

Harbaugh said the Ravens had long planned to place Matt Skura on the physically-unable-to-perform list, as they did Sunday. The team’s top center is still recovering from a season-ending knee injury he suffered in November, and Harbaugh said the Ravens “want to make sure that he’s moving the right way.”

“You want to put him against some pressure where he’s got to deal with the knee,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got to react to certain movements with pressure. We want to do all that before we put him on the field.”

Because of the NFL’s mandated ramp-up period, the Ravens won’t start practice until Aug. 17, leaving the team’s medical staff more time to bring Skura along. But his rehabilitation is “still right on schedule, and we expect to see him out there soon,” Harbaugh said.

Extra points

  • Harbaugh said the Ravens will hit more in practice in training camp than in previous years, but that with no preseason games, the team’s total number of “live” repetitions will be down.
  • After keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the past two seasons, Harbaugh said he expects the trend to continue this year, when rosters expand to 55 players. Robert Griffin III, Trace McSorley and undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley will battle it out behind starter Lamar Jackson. “I would say that’s the plan,” Harbaugh said of a three-quarterback roster, “and we’ll just have to see how it shakes out.”
  • Harbaugh left open the possibility of quarantining a player or players to protect them from possible infection during the season, but he warned that “all those types of moves come with counter-issues. There are consequences to everything that you do, and you’ve got to balance all that out as best you can. ... You’ve got to use common sense.”

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