The Ravens practiced Monday without their top two receiving threats at tight end, Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. Hurst sat out his third consecutive practice because of a “soft tissue” concern, and Andrews missed his second session of training camp after already sitting out the first day because of a “muscle tissue issue.”
That both players are rookies — Hurst was the No. 25 overall selection in May’s NFL draft, and Andrews was the second of two picks in the third round — was not lost on coach John Harbaugh, who questioned whether players coming out of college are adequately prepared for the NFL’s more physically taxing practices.
“One thing I’ve noticed: Guys coming out of college aren’t as callused up as they used to be,” he said. “We used to practice twice a day in full pads. And those players know — I’m talking to you out there who know, who’ve played in the National Football League or played in college 10, 15 years ago — [that] it’s not even close to the same thing. There’s a certain type of ‘in shape,’ certain type of football fitness, certain type of callusness — muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments — that kind of toughen up. They callus up a little bit, and you can practice all day and run all day. Then our guys coming in right now, most of them don’t have that. So you practice for half a practice, and all of a sudden, things start tweaking on them.”
In the absence of Hurst and Andrews, Vince Mayle, Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams have seen extended repetitions at tight end in passing situations. The trio might not be the pass-catching threats that the rookie duo are, but Harbaugh sounded happy to give them every opportunity to stand out.
“You look at the other tight ends. Boyle, look at Maxx Williams — they’re taking every rep out there,” Harbaugh said. “And because the other guys are nicked right now, they’re taking all the reps. They’re not batting an eye. Why? Because they’re callused up, because they know how to practice, because their bodies are just tougher. There’s a physical toughness to it. They’re mentally tough. But you have to practice football to be able to practice football the right way.”
In other injury-related news, Harbaugh said cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (left Achilles tendon) and Maurice Canady (knee) were given the day off. Cornerback Bennett Jackson (undisclosed) missed his third straight practice, and rookie offensive tackle Greg Senat, a sixth-round selection, continued his absence from an unspecified injury suffered at the end of minicamp.
Meanwhile, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, defensive end Brent Urban and rookie linebacker Kenny Young returned to Monday’s session after sitting out Sunday’s practice.