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Ravens will be ‘smart’ with Matt Skura’s return; Devin Duvernay an option at punt returner

Center Matt Skura passed his physical Sunday and suited up for the Ravens’ first padded practice Monday, just as he’d hoped he could midway through a grueling rehabilitation.

But he’s not all the way back. Not yet.

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Wearing a pair of knee braces, Skura participated in individual drills Monday but watched from the sideline as Patrick Mekari, who took over last year after Skura’s season-ending left knee injury, stood in with the first-team offense.

“He’s just on a process still right now,” coach John Harbaugh said in a video conference call. “He was really good yesterday. Saw the tape; thought he moved well. Today, we didn’t do a ton with him, but he’s in there and he looks good. So I do expect him to be able to be ready for the season, but we’re going to be smart with our process with him and make sure he’s fully ready to go, every rep that he takes.”

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Skura has time on his side. The Ravens have 13 more padded practices and 16 overall before camp ends, then another week to prepare for the Sept. 13 season opener against the Cleveland Browns.

Punt return intrigue

When the Ravens split up for special teams drills, there was a surprising face in the crowd at punt returner.

Joining rookie wide receiver James Proche and running back Kenjon Barner, the front-runners in the positional battle, were wide receivers Willie Snead IV and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown — and rookie Devin Duvernay.

Duvernay, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and was a sure-handed receiver at Texas, does not have high-level punt return experience. But he did occasionally handle kickoffs for the Longhorns, averaging 20.5 yards per return last year (10 attempts for 205 yards) and a career-high 22 yards per return in 2017 (four attempts for 88).

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“Everybody’s an option,” said Harbaugh, who must replace De’Anthony Thomas after the receiver opted out of the 2020 season. “That’s why we put guys back there. We’ve got a group of guys working. They’ve been working, and he’d never done that in college, but he’s got good hands and he’s got a good feel for it, so he’ll be part of the conversation.”

Extra points

  • Given the shortened practice time — just 90 minutes — Justin Tucker didn’t get as many high-pressure kicks as he usually does. But the All-Pro kicker converted a 58-yard field-goal attempt to end practice on a high note.
  • Daylon Mack, the 2019 fifth-round pick whom the Ravens waived Aug. 1, signed with the New York Giants on Monday. Mack played in just one game for the Ravens as a rookie, and he had a short stint with the Detroit Lions before being released Aug. 7.
  • Asked about practicing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said the team’s safety would come down to mutual trust. But he acknowledged the uncertainty of the moment. “I trust the guys in this building,” he said. “They trust us. Our coaches are trusting us, the front office is trusting us, to make sure that we continue to maintain our negative test results as a team. It’s scary in a way because we don’t understand the effects of this virus long-term, from an individual standpoint. If I get it, is this something that affects me for the next 10 years — where, if somebody else catches it, it may only be for five or six months? And that’s really just where the uncertainty for me kind of comes from.”
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