Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ravens Notebook: Jared Gaither doesn’t practice due to ‘injuries’

Cousins steps in

OWINGS MILLS – Offensive tackle Jared Gaither remained on the move Saturday, one day removed from the Baltimore Ravens shifting him to the right side and replacing him with Michael Oher at left tackle.

This time, his destination was the training room where team officials said he was undergoing treatment for an unspecified injury.

Gaither wasn’t available for comment as he wasn’t present during the entire hour that the locker room was open to reporters. Gaither, who battled ankle, foot and neck injuries last season, made no mention of any injury Friday and didn’t appear to be in any discomfort.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron didn’t indicate how Gaither got hurt or if he’ll practice today as the Ravens conclude their mandatory minicamp.

“I don’t know if it’s any one thing,” Cameron said. “It’s just a series of things. I don’t know if it’s any one specific play.”

Gaither is already the subject of rampant trade rumors, and his absence fueled further speculation about his status. The Buffalo Bills are known to be extremely interested in Gaither due to their inadequate tackle situation, and he has also been linked to the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins this offseason.

Gaither is an unsigned restricted free agent who’s due a $2.396 million one-year tender.

Because he’s unsigned, he doesn’t have to attend these minicamps.

Gaither is represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus, who has a history of applying leverage to get his clients a new contract or a new employer.

Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt suggested that two of Rosenhaus’ players, wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett, sat out of minicamp with fabricated hamstring injuries to show their displeasure with their respective contract situations. Boldin is now a Raven with a $28.5 million contract after switching representation last year to CAA.

“They showed up last night and reported an injury that we weren’t aware of,” Whisenhunt said last spring. “So as part of our procedure we sent them for MRIs. Hey, we know what’s going on, so I’m not really going to have much to say about that.”

Without being prompted, Cameron was extremely complimentary of backup right tackle Oniel Cousins.

Cousins worked with the first-team offense with Gaither out Saturday.

“I think the thing that’s most pleasing is the confidence in Oniel Cousins,” Cameron said. “We got a glimpse of it last year. He’s coming, and he’s playing well. He’s picked up right where he left off, and we’ve got three good young tackles.”

Cousins started three games last season. His run-blocking was solid, but he was exposed in pass-rushing situations in a late-season game by Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

“I keep working hard and preparing to be a starter whenever they need me,” Cousins said. “I love playing for the Ravens and I just keep working on my technique to become the best player I can be.”

Cameron, who informed Gaither that he was moving to right tackle, also emphasized that the Ravens want the former University of Maryland lineman back on the field.

“I think we all know the talent that he is,” Cameron said. “I think we all know the kind of player he can be. It’s just a matter of getting him healthy. Offensive line play is really the unit, not the individual talent or group of individual talents.

“We’re going with the five guys right now that are out there that give us the best continuity that can grow together and we can’t wait to get him back. I can tell you that.”

HAREWOOD INJURED: Rookie offensive tackle Ramon Harewood was carted off the field with a right knee injury and will be out for the next three to four weeks.

A sixth-round draft pick from Morehouse and the first NFL player form Barbados, the 6-foot-6, 341-pounder fell awkwardly during practice when he was accidentally tripped from behind.

Harewood said he only suffered soft-tissue damage with no ligament tear when he twisted his right knee.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Harewood, who was down on the field for a long time. “They said I just did some damage to the tissue. I just know it’s not a ligament. I’m just happy about that.

“I thought it was some kind of ligament gone, but the doctor just said my knee cap probably slipped out a bit and it moved some tissue with it. It’s an injury, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Harewood had been working with the second-team offense at right tackle and was replaced by Stefan Rodgers.

Harewood could be back for a rookie minicamp that begins June 1.

Harewood had his leg wrapped, but was standing on his own without crutches and said he wasn’t in significant pain.

“It’s more frustrating because I’ve got a point to prove,” Harewood said. “That’s the reason I’m here. It’s more frustrating than anything else. It hurts a little bit, but that’s the hard part right now is just dealing with the frustration.”

Harewood drew praise from coach John Harbaugh for his size and mobility.

Coming from a small school, there’s a big adjustment for Harewood.

“I’m used to kind of dominating, so [Friday] was kind of an eye-opener,” Harewood said. “A couple of the older guys, they told me it’s the NFL. You go back to baby steps and you start again.

“I came out with my best foot forward. I actually thought I was having a good practice mentally and physically and then this happened. So, you move on from there.”

KATULA IS BACK: Long snapper Matt Katula proclaimed that he’s 100 percent recovered from tendinitis in his snapping elbow that plagued him last season.

“The elbow feels very good,” said Katula, adding that he’s ready to play golf at his charity golf tournament Monday. “It was kind of what we thought. Rest is what it needed, and it kind of went away.”

The Ravens signed undrafted rookie long snapper Morgan Cox, but Katula remains entrenched as the starter.

Last season, Katula’s elbow played havoc with his snaps and led to missed field goals. He had a pair of bad snaps in the Ravens’ final regular-season game against the Oakland Raiders.

Now, he has regained his old form.

“It was a struggle last year, it really was,” Katula said. “I’m just excited to get out and clean the slate.”

KINDLE LEARNING ON THE FLY: Rookie outside linebacker Sergio Kindle backed off his post-draft prediction that he’ll be named Rookie of the Year.

He has too much to learn to get hung up on ambitious goals. Right now, he just wants to learn the playbook.

“When I said that, it was just an exciting moment for me getting drafted,” Kindle said. “My head was in the clouds. First of all, you’ve got to learn the playbook, get on the field and then perform well to get Rookie of the Year.

“It will be a good goal for me to set for myself to try to strive to, but I’ve got to take it one step at a time. So, if you can copy, paste and delete that, that would be nice.”

Kindle reiterated that his knee feels fine after several procedures at the University of Texas and a report that he’ll need to have microfracture surgery eventually.

“My body felt good,” he said. “No knee issues.”

The speed of the game is Kindle’s biggest adjustment.

“The tempo out here was about 10 times faster than college, especially when they were throwing plays at you like bullets,” Kindle said. “First of all, you’ve got to slow down your head spinning. Then, you have to make your legs run as fast as your head is going and you’re just crashing.”

Kindle has already drawn praise from middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced him as the Ravens’ second-round pick.

“I just think he’s a great kid,” Lewis said. “I told him that when I got ready to call his name at the draft. I watched him in college. I like his fire, the way he plays the game.”

Lewis gave Kindle a welcoming sideline hit as congratulations for a good play.

"When he was coming out to the field and he slapped me on my head, he almost gave me a concussion," Kindle said. "That's when I knew he was intense 100 percent of the time when he's on this green grass. That's what I love about him."

QUICK HITS: Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson isn’t 100 percent yet after undergoing offseason arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He’s expected to make a full recovery by training camp, but will need to regain some of the bulk he’s lost. He’s down to roughly 245 pounds. … The Ravens are trying out undrafted former Mississippi State player Tay Bowser at defensive back. Bowser played wide receiver and cornerback in college. … Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg didn’t say whether the Ravens are close to signing another kicker, referring questions to general manager Ozzie Newsome. They met with Shayne Graham during the NFL owners meetings. Rosburg also praised returning kicker Billy Cundiff. “You’ll have to talk to Ozzie about that,” Rosburg said. “He doesn’t let me make those decisions yet. I’ve been working on him, though.”… Two former Negro League baseball players addressed the team after practice. … Several players are in the mix to challenge Chris Carr for punt return duties, including wide receiver David Reed and Prince Miller. Carr is lining up with the first-team at cornerback with Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington recovering from knee surgeries. … Cameron praised rookie fullback Mike McLaughlin, a physical undrafted player who excelled at linebacker at Boston College. “It’s early, but he’s a football player,” Cameron said. “He’s going to shine when the pads come on like most good fullbacks. When they’re out here without being able to hit anybody, they seem just like another guy out there. We’ll know more at training camp.” … Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison was complimentary of cornerback Cary Williams. “Cary has got a great body,” Mattison said. “He’s a prototype corner. He’s got a lot of length. He’s got good speed. A lot of emphasis is on him to see how good we can get him in a short period of time.” … Special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo is still expected to return by training camp after tearing his quadriceps last season against the New England Patriots.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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