All week, Ravens players questioned Keenan Reynolds on what kind of reception he would get when he returned to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis for the first time since he led the Midshipmen as an NCAA record-setting quarterback.
Any doubt was answered as soon as Reynolds, now a wide receiver and return specialist, was the fourth player to enter the stadium Saturday evening. The second-year player was treated to a nice ovation by fans and was honored by the reception.
“[My teammates] were giving me a lot of flak during the week, asking me if I was going to get a standing ovation,” Reynolds said with a smile after practice. “It felt great. It was cool to be here at the stadium and see my old locker and walk down to the field.”
The last time Reynolds had played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, he scored three rushing touchdowns to set an NCAA record of 88 and paced Navy in a 44-28 thumping of Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28, 2015.
Driving to the stadium revived fond memories for Reynolds.
“Pulling up on the bus and seeing the stadium to the right, it brought me back to a lot of game-day Saturdays and what I was able to do when I was here,” he said. “It was just cool to think about that.”
Coach John Harbaugh said Reynolds delivered a pre-practice speech to the team Saturday morning.
“[Special teams coordinator and associate head coach] Jerry Rosburg had the idea, of course,” Harbaugh said. “Keenan talked to the team about the tradition here, what all the places were on the stadium, which are all the naval battles in U.S. history, talking about what's the Naval Academy, showed us where the dorms were. It was pretty cool. He did a good job with it."
J.Smith set to return Monday
Harbaugh said Smith, who has missed three consecutive practices, has a “little tweak,” and he didn’t want the cornerback to aggravate the injury on the turf. He expects Smith to return to practice Monday after the team’s day off Sunday.
As for Flacco, the team continues to say the quarterback is making good progress in his recovery from a back injury that has kept him sidelined through training camp so far. The Ravens originally hoped Flacco would miss a week.
“I don’t really know the time frame on it. We haven’t talked about that,” Harbaugh said. “We know that he’s getting better every single day. We have a plan for him football-wise when he gets back, but we haven’t been told when yet.”
No Howard yet
Fans hoping to get a glimpse of new offensive tackle Austin Howard will have to wait until Monday as he did not take part in Saturday’s session.
Howard, who spent almost three months on the Ravens practice squad in 2011 and was released by the Oakland Raiders on July 28, agreed on Friday to a three-year, $16 million deal with a team option following each year, according to NFL Network. Howard is expected to leapfrog James Hurst to start at right tackle.
Harbaugh said he is excited for Howard to join the team.
“He was in, and I had a long talk with him Saturday,” Harbaugh said. “He’s excited, he’s a competitor. He’s happy to be back. His wife made a lot of friends here when they were here the first time around. She’s pregnant, and she likes the hospitals in town, so she’s looking forward to getting back here for that. He’s going to be out there with us on Monday.”
With Smith, rookie Marlon Humphrey and Sheldon Price held out of Ravens practice Friday for unspecified reasons, the defense’s starting cornerbacks were Brandon Carr and Robertson Daniel. As thrilling as it was to play with the first unit, Daniel — a second-year player out of Brigham Young who spent two weeks of his rookie year on the Ravens’ active roster before moving to the practice squad for much of the final two months of the season — understands that his elevation on the depth chart is based in part on the health of his teammates. “It’s Week 1 of the preseason,” the 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback said. “Guys went down, I had to step up. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that I moved up the depth chart or I moved down. I’m just the next guy up.” … The announced attendance for Sunday evening’s practice was 10,321. … A trio of former Ravens in free safety Ed Reed, wide receiver-returner Jermaine Lewis and fullback Vonta Leach attended practice.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.