Ravens notes: Matt Birk dealing with back spasms

Ravens coach John Harbaugh just met with reporters following practice and provided an update on several of his injured players:

Cornerback Jimmy Smith, who left practice early yesterday, had his back lock up on him. Harbaugh said that it is a muscular issue that Smith also dealt with while playing at the University of Colorado. "It takes a couple of days usually for that to resolve," Harbaugh said.

Center Matt Birk missed his fifth straight practice today and Harbaugh essentially ruled him out from next Thursday's preseason opener in Atlanta. "Matt's resting," Harbaugh said. "He had some back spasms, too. It's probably both knee and Matt's had the back spasms. But I'm probably going to slow him down a little bit more especially this week and maybe next week after the game, get him back in there." Rookie Gino Gradkowskiis expected to start at center in his place. 

Defensive end Arthur Jones, who missed practice again today, has been bothered by a hip flexor and the club sent him for a magnetic resonance imaging today. Harbaugh was not aware of the results, but he doesn't think it's anything serious. 

Fullback Vonta Leach was held out of today's practice because his back tightened up.

As for Bryant McKinnie and Haloti Ngata, Harbaugh congratulated both on passing the conditioning test today. Harbaugh said that McKinnie "passed with a diving effort at the end." They won't be able to officially start practicing until Monday as they spent today - and will do the same again tomorrow - essentially watching the drills from the sidelines. "It means a lot," said Harbaugh. "It's another offensive lineman. Of course, Bryant is a guy who has played a lot of football for his career but also for us last year. He's competing right in there with the rest of the guys and he can be a big part of us and has been. And of course, Haloti Ngata, his presence speaks for itself. They both have to go in shells for two days for the activation period, but then they'll be in there Monday."

Wide receiver LaQuan Williams had another really good practice. He caught one touchdown pass from Joe Flacco and made several other catches. Undrafted rookie free agent Devin Goda also got inside Chykie Brown and made a diving catch off a Tyrod Taylor pass. Tight end Ed Dickson caught two touchdown passes. 

Kicker Justin Tucker got all the repetitions today at camp after Billy Cundiff took them in yesterday's practice. Tucker, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas, went 7-for-8, missing only from 60 yards. His miss was on line but just came up a couple of yards short.

Left guard Marshal Yanda, one of the most respected guys in the locker room, broke the team huddle following the practice. His message was "embrace the grind," which drew some vocal support from middle linebacker Ray Lewis among others.

Reminder: The Ravens will have an open practice tomorrow at M&T; Bank Stadium. Doors open at 3:30 p.m., parking lots open at noon, and it is open to the public.















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