Alex Collins did not practice Wednesday, but the Ravens running back said his injured foot is much improved from last week when it was so inflamed that he had difficulty walking. Still, he initially resisted the idea of sitting out Sunday’s 34-17 rout of the Oakland Raiders.
“With my mindset, I always want to be out there,” he said. “I always want to be moving and running around because all the plays are better when you’re going through the motions. But it was definitely more of a film standpoint for me just to let it heal. So any chance I get to be out on the field, I’ll definitely make that attempt, but last week was more of a rest week for me.”
Collins, who started the team’s first 10 games, still leads the offense in rushing yards (411), touchdown runs (seven) and carries (114). But his touches have dwindled as undrafted rookie Gus Edwards gained 115 rushing yards and one touchdown in a 24-21 win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 18 and 118 rushing yards against the Raiders.
Collins said the plan is to take part in practice Thursday and/or Friday, and coach John Harbaugh characterized Collins as “day-to-day” before Sunday’s game at the Atlanta Falcons.
“It’s kind of up in the air,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll just have to see where he’s at as we go.”
Right tackle James Hurst was limited to individual exercises and light drills Wednesday, marking his first appearance on the field since Oct. 20, when the team announced he was dealing with a back injury. On Friday, Harbaugh said the problem with a disk in Hurst’s back had given way to a calf ailment caused by an issue with his nerve root, a fiber bundle from the spinal cord that carries sensory neurons to the central nervous system.
“Very exciting for me,” Hurst said. “It’s been really frustrating just sitting and watching. So I’m excited to be back out there and start playing again.”
Hurst said he will know more about his health when he wakes up Thursday morning.
“It’s one of those things where you can only do so much to help it along,” he said. “Time is the biggest issue with that. It’ll heal and you rest it and you try to keep your strength up as you go and prepare yourself for when you’re ready to go. When you get the inflammation out of there, then you can go back to work.”
Rookie Orlando Brown Jr. has started in each of the past five games in Hurst’s spot.
In addition to Collins, the Ravens practiced without wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Edwards (ankle), quarterback Joe Flacco (right hip), strong safety Tony Jefferson (left ankle), cornerback Jimmy Smith (illness), free safety Eric Weddle and right guard Marshal Yanda. Crabtree, Weddle and Yanda were non injury-related absences.
Defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (ankle), outside linebacker Tim Williams (illness) and slot cornerback Tavon Young (groin) also sat out Wednesday’s session.
Atlanta did not have one starter at practice in kicker Matt Bryant (back). No. 3 wide receiver Calvin Ridley (ankle/elbow) and backup middle linebacker Deion Jones (broken foot) were limited. Jones, who was activated off injured reserve Nov. 12, led the Falcons in tackles last season with 138.
More work for Bowser
Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser played 20.7 percent of the defensive snaps Sunday, his highest rate on defense since Week 1, when he played 31.3 percent of the snaps in a 47-3 thrashing of the Buffalo Bills.
Bowser has played on less than 20 percent of the defense’s snaps in seven games, was active but did not play against the New Orleans Saints in Week 7, and was a healthy scratch against the Tennessee Titans in Week 6. He sounded hopeful that he did enough to warrant more playing time against the Falcons, but said his top priority is concentrating on improving his game.
“It’s all a stepping stone,” the 23-year-old Bowser said. “I’m young in this league, and even from high school to college, I was going through the same exact thing, working my way up to get as many snaps as I could. It’s just the same thing — staying patient and understanding that God has a reason for everything. You’ve just got to wait until your turn is called.”
» Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said he has yet to hear from former free safety Ed Reed about his 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown or his near lateral to cornerback Jimmy Smith in Sunday’s win. “Still waiting,” Suggs said. “Tell him to go ahead and shout me though. My number is still the same.”
» The team announced that it had brought back tight end Nick Keizer to the practice squad. The undrafted rookie was in training camp before getting cut Aug. 31. He fills the vacancy created by the departure of tight end Darren Waller, who was signed Tuesday by the Oakland Raiders.
» Wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour forced the Ravens to practice inside their indoor facility Wednesday.
» Undrafted rookie running back Mark Thompson, who was released from the practice squad on Tuesday to make room for defensive back Bennett Jackson, was signed by the New York Jets to their practice squad.