Some Ravens players return to practice, others sit out

The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens, who endured injuries to several players in their 31-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons in their preseason opener, welcomed back a wave of reinforcements during Saturday's practice.

Center Matt Birk, cornerback Jimmy Smith and defensive tackle Arthur Jones were out on the practice field after each had been sidelined for more than a week. Also returning was rookie running back Bernard Pierce, who had not suited up since sustaining a hamstring injury July 31.

As Pierce sat out Thursday, the Ravens' other young running backs -- Anthony Allen, Damien Berry and Bobby Rainey -- each got chances to take a lead in the competition for carries behind starting back Ray Rice. But coach John Harbaugh says Pierce hasn't fallen behind the pack.

"He's just going to have to do well with the reps and the opportunities that he gets, and that will be his body of work," he said after Saturday's practice in Owings Mills. "Without getting that experience -- the opportunity to make mistakes -- he's going to have to have learned from the other people's mistakes. And we'll see how well he did that in the next couple of weeks."

Harbaugh said that it was good to get Pierce, Birk, Smith and Jones back in practice after they all missed the preseason opener. "Those guys are very important," he said. But a few new names were added to the list of non-participants Saturday, two days after Thursday night's win.

As expected, tight end Ed Dickson, who sprained his right shoulder, and defensive tackle Ryan McBean, who sustained a fracture dislocation of his left ankle, did not practice. Dickson could be out until the start of the regular season. McBean, who is scheduled to visit Charlotte-based orthopedist Dr. Robert Anderson on Monday for further examination, will likely be out longer.

Also absent Saturday after getting nicked up Thursday were wide receivers Torrey Smith (ankle) and Logan Payne (hip) and cornerbacks Chykie Brown (hamstring) and Asa Jackson (hamstring).

The Ravens have routinely had at least 10 players sidelined during training camp practices, with healthy players cycling back out onto the practice field as others limp onto the long list of non-participants. Harbaugh said the expanded 90-man roster helps keep camp running smoothly.

"You have to plan for whoever is out there. You work your numbers, the number of players, the number of reps," Harbaugh said. "You have to work around that. Everybody has that. It's always going to be an issue. You try to do the best you can. I think we're in pretty good shape overall."

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