Ravens defensive end Chris Canty’s return to practice Wednesday was met with mock praise from his fellow defensive linemen, who slow-clapped as he walked onto the practice field. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan bowed in his presence.
It’s clear the venerable Canty, who has more NFL experience than the rest of the Ravens defensive line combined, has the respect and admiration of his teammates after returning from a four-week absence with a calf strain.
What’s less clear, however, is Canty’s role when he returns after the emergence of Lawrence Guy as a starting-caliber defensive end in his absence.
“I don’t think I’m going to get Wally Pipp’ed,” Canty said, referring to the former New York Yankees first baseman who missed a game and never regained his job from Lou Gehrig. Gehrig began his record-setting games-played streak in Pipp’s absence.
“I think I’m a heck of a football player, and if that happens and the coaching staff thinks he gives our team the best chance to win, then so be it. Certainly, he’s played well. I didn’t expect anything different. When somebody goes down, it’s next man up. I know that he’s a heck of a football player and I’m glad to be able to see he’s having the success on the field.”
Guy’s 27 tackles rank fifth among the Ravens, while his three sacks lead the team. He also leads the Ravens with six tackles for a loss, a mark that places him 11th overall in the NFL. A former waiver claim from the San Diego Chargers, Guy has been an impact player in Canty’s absence.
Canty was playing well before his injury, too — he had a sack of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in Week 1. When asked last week, coach John Harbaugh said both would play plenty in the defensive line rotation, so the starting designation would be moot. Guy also missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed injury.
That likely was good news for Canty, who has had to be on the sidelines as the Ravens season slipped away.
“It felt great to get out there and work out with my teammates,” he said. “I’ve definitely been frustrated the last couple of weeks, not being able to help, not being able to be a part, as far as being on the field with teammates. I’ve tried to do everything I can do in the film room, on the sidelines, trying to help guys, tell them things what I see. But it feels good to be back out there, running around with my teammates, working hard toward a common goal.”