Orlando Brown Jr.’s first start of his NFL career might pit the Ravens’ young right tackle against New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan — he of a team-leading five sacks, tied for 10th in the league.
But if the organization’s first of two third-round picks in April’s NFL draft is leery about the potential assignment, he is not letting that emotion show.
“I’m ready,” he said before Thursday afternoon’s practice. “It doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, it’s football, and I’m worried about myself, and that’s it.”
The 6-foot-8, 345-pound Brown — the son of former Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown Sr., who died in 2011 — is one of a couple options the team has if starting left guard Alex Lewis can’t play because of what coach John Harbaugh described as a pinched nerve. Lewis did not practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.
The Ravens could start Brown at right tackle — a position he practiced frequently during training camp — and shift James Hurst to left guard. Or they could keep Hurst at right tackle and start rookie Bradley Bozeman — who replaced Lewis after he suffered his neck injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 21-0 victory at the Tennessee Titans — at left guard.
The makeup of the offensive line is a closely guarded secret, which offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was not willing to divulge.
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ve got several young men that are fine football players that we’ll plug in. We’ve got a very good player that may not play. So the mentality is next man in, and let’s go play as good or even better. What a great opportunity. So that’s where we’re at.”
Brown has played only 9.9 percent of the offensive snaps thus far, including just 10 snaps in the past three games. But he said even that limited experience has aided his development.
“I think the coaching staff understands that when it comes to reps, the more reps, the better I’m going to get,” he said. “Those extra reps I’ve gotten — however many they may be — have helped me take an extra step in my game.”
Three starters back at practice
After sitting out Wednesday’s session, wide receiver John Brown (not injury related), cornerback Brandon Carr (knee) and free safety Eric Weddle (not injury related) returned to Thursday’s practice.
The newest concern is starting cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who was limited Thursday by a thigh ailment, according to the team’s injury report. Considering that Saints lead the NFL in scoring average (36.0 points) and rank third in passing (320.8 yards per game), a healthy Humphrey would fortify a cornerback group that has only two fully healthy players in Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young available.
Rookie cornerback Anthony Averett (hamstring) and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (hamstring) were limited for the second straight day.
Two more starters joined New Orleans wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) as non-participants. Left guard Andrus Peat (head) was downgraded from limited participation, and right guard Larry Warford (back) did not practice. Backup left tackle and former Towson University player Jermon Bushrod did not participate for non injury-related reasons. Ginn was placed on injured reserve Thursday.
Starting left tackle Terron Armstead (knee) was upgraded from limited to full participation, and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (concussion) practiced fully for the second consecutive day.
» Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale described the postgame Gatorade bath he received from his players after Sunday’s win as “cold.” But he treasured the memory of the mosh pit-style celebration sparked by the defense’s shutout. “That was cool,” he said. “That’s something I’ll always remember.”
» Mornhinweg echoed Harbaugh’s comment after the victory over Tennessee that the offense wanted to get wide receiver Michael Crabtree involved early and often after an uneven showing in a 12-9 overtime loss at the Cleveland Browns, punctuated by a drop in the end zone. “We wanted to get Mike going,” Mornhinweg said. “Mike is a proud man, a proud man, and so we’ve got great trust in Mike Crabtree. Yeah, he had a heck of a game, huh? And just because you call one, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to win on the route or that the ball goes to him. He did all of those things and got himself open.”
» New Orleans kicker Wil Lutz will return to M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since he spent the 2016 training camp with the Ravens before they released him, and Rosburg expressed pride in Lutz, who has converted 85.4 percent of his field goals in three seasons with the Saints. “He’s one of those guys that spent a good deal of time here in the spring and training camp a few years back, and he’s made good on his opportunity that he had,” Rosburg said. “We’ve got a very high opinion of Wil coming in here, and he’s proven to be the kind of player we thought he was.”