Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Webb is back and having fun

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens are taking a cautious approach with cornerback Lardarius Webb while holding out hope that he'll return in time for the first game against the New York Jets.

Webb was activated from the physically unable to perform list today after passing his physical.

He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Dec. 20 against the Chicago Bears.

"I really don’t know," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when asked if Webb would play in the team's remaining two preseason contests. "You would love to just because if he was out there doing it, you know he was ready, but we’re not going to push it. We’re not going to do anything earlier than, as much you can be, sure there won’t be a setback."

The Sept. 13 regular season opener isn't being viewed as a lock, but the Ravens are privately optimistic.

"I wish I could but I’m not a doctor, and the doctors don’t even tell us that," Harbaugh said. "It’s impossible to put a number on."

Webb took part in individual drills, running around and cutting without incident.
"It was fun," Webb said. "Glad to be out with my teammates. They welcomed me back fine and dandy. It was great."

Webb was reluctant to say when he'll return as far as playing in games, deferring comment to Harbaugh.

"My expectations are to get through this whole season healthy and to help my team win a championship," Webb said. "Play my role, if that's cheering them on from the sideline, if that's being a starting corner or starting nickel, hey, I could be a coach. It don't matter. Just want to be a part of this team this year, so I'm doing everything to get back with these guys."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Webb still on PUP but not for long

Lardarius Webb continues to work on the side while the Baltimore Ravens practice at McDaniel College, staying on the physically unable to perform list this morning.

That status could change soon, though.

"It felt good," said Webb, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament against the Chicago Bears last December. "It's coming along. We're working real hard every day and hoping I can be back as soon as possible. I hope so."

Webb has been accelerating his workout schedule, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh is optimistic that he could return soon.

The Ravens would like to have Webb activated as soon as the third preseason game against the New York Giants.

"It's up to the doctors, but he's right there," Harbaugh said. "He wants to play."
Webb has said, though, that he doesn't want to play in the preseason.

The Ravens and Webb have both said they'll err on the side of caution and won't rush him back onto the field.

Photo by Kevin Moore


Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb is making steady progress with his surgically-repaired torn anterior cruciate ligament, improving to the point where he could be on the verge of passing his physical and being activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Webb took a portion of the running test Wednesday at McDaniel College, and his interval times were even better than initially expected.

However, Webb has made it clear that he's not inclined to rush his rehabilitation schedule since he suffered the knee injury last December against the Chicago Bears.

Earlier his week, he said he doesn't believe he should play in any preseason games.

Webb is already well ahead of schedule and wants to err on the side of caution when it comes to when he'll begin practicing.

If Webb has concerns about it possibly being too soon to get back on the field, that could put the brakes on the Ravens' plans.

Regardless of when Webb gets activated, the consensus opinion is that the former third-round draft pick is making an impressive recovery.

"We might want to be cautious with him," Harbaugh said Tuesday "We’re going to be cautious with all these guys. The thing you don’t want to do is have a setback. He’s really doing well. I think he’s progressing ahead of schedule, that’s what I’ve been told.

"It won’t be long before you see him off the PUP and out here practicing with the guys, but I think we are going to be cautious with him. If he can play in the preseason and we feel very comfortable that it’s not going to be a setback, then we’ll do it. If we think there’s any possibility of a setback, then we probably won’t.”

The Ravens eased cornerback Fabian Washington., who tore his ACL last November, back into practice sessions. He's now slated to start Saturday night against the Washington Redskins and will likely play for a quarter.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cousins carted off field

L. McClain, Gooden sit out practice

Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Oniel Cousins was carted off the field this morning at McDaniel College due to headaches, according to coach John Harbaugh.

“He developed a headache, so that’s where we’re at,”Harbaugh said. “I don’t know any more than that.”

Cousins will be examined for concussion symptoms.

Cousins may have also been dealing with fatigue issues.

He has been taking the first-team work at offensive tackle with Jared Gaither sidelined with a slight back tear and back spasms.

Tony Moll, who had his own concussion earlier in camp, stepped in with the first-team offense at right tackle.

Several offensive linemen are injured, including Hale (back), center Matt Birk (neck), Stefan Rodgers (shoulder) and center-guard Daniel Sanders (shoulder).

Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain sat out of practice due to a tight back.

He said he expects to return to practice as soon as Thursday and play Saturday night against the Washington Redskins.

"It's my back," he said. "It's a little tight today. Coach told me to chill out today.

"It's just all muscle. Come back get ready for practice tomorrow and then get ready for the Redskins."

Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden was sidelined from practice Wednesday morning due to a neck injury.

Gooden got injured against the Carolina Panthers and was able to practice Tuesday with no restrictions on contact after wearing a red jersey Monday that signified he was off-limits to hitting.

Now, Gooden's not practicing at all as the Ravens are hoping that rest will cure what's ailing him.

"Tavares has got the neck thing from the game," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said . "It just keeps tightening back up on him, so we just need to sit him down and settle him down. He’s tried to go the last two days. Every time he’s tried to go, it spasms back up, so we just need to settle him down for a couple days and try to get him out there on Saturday.”

Gooden was under consideration to start Saturday night against the Washington Redskins.

So, Baltimore might go with Dannell Ellerbe or Jameel McClain, who started against Carolina.

The Ravens want to evaluate all three candidates to start opposite All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

"Yeah, that’d probably be part of it," Harbaugh said. "We also want to get Jameel some work at Sam [strongside linebacker] because he’s a multiple guy, and in order to play the position, you’ve got to get some work there. So, we’ll move those guys around for the next two weeks and we’ll know where we’re at.”

Photo by Kevin Moore

Zorn set to revisit Redskins, Fedex Field

Jim Zorn isn't consumed by bitterness, grudges or hard feelings.

The Baltimore Ravens' quarterback coach hasn't spoken with Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder since the night he was fired as head coach a few hours after returning from the Redskins' season finale in San Diego.

And it doesn't sound like Zorn has plans to seek out Snyder when the Baltimore Ravens face the Redskins Saturday night in a preseason game at FedEx Field.

It figures to be an emotional evening for Zorn as he'll be on the opposing sideline after coaching the Redskins for the past two seasons.

Known for his positive demeanor, Zorn didn't stray from the high road during an interview after practice Tuesday at McDaniel College.

"What is the right way [to deal with it]? You just get fired, thank you very much and you move on." Zorn said. "I really think that's how we have to handle it, or we could go sit in our rooms for a few weeks and mope and feel sorry for ourselves.
It's not the way life is, really. We're called to handle difficult situations as well as glorious situations."

It was an extremely rough year for Zorn last season.

One year removed from a somewhat promising 8-8 campaign as a rookie head coach, the Redskins went into a downward spiral.

They nosedived to 4-12.

Zorn was embarrassed when he was relieved of offensive play-calling duties six games into the season having lost four games. The Redskins gave the responsibilities to assistant Sherman Lewis even though it had been years since Lewis had called plays or worked in the NFL.

Introspective by nature whether he's coaching or riding his trademark mountain bike, Zorn said he learned a lot from the experience even though it didn't turn out the way he wanted it to.

"It's an exciting position, it really is," Zorn said. "It's intense. There are so many details of the football game. You do feel like the intensity level is very high. You can't have an error, you can't have a mistake. That's what we coach to: perfection.

"I think that's been brought out in me extensively. It's kind of to the max. When you think about a position coach versus the head coach. ... There's just sort of a heightened awareness there."

The Ravens are acutely aware of Zorn's contribution.

As a former Seattle Seahawks quarterback who set several franchise records, Zorn has provided a lot of perspective to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

And the Ravens know this will be a big night for Zorn as he returns to square off against his former employers, who are still paying his salary out of the remaining years on his contract.

"Jim Zorn, obviously, we've had fun with it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "And it's going to be very meaningful for him. I hope the Redskins fans are very respectful. This is a good man. He's a great coach.

"He's brought a lot to us as a Raven, and I know he gave his heart and soul for the Redskins for two years. That's kind of what it's all about. It's a tough business, but we're proud to have him here. He's meant so much to our quarterbacks and to our team, and he's made us a better football team."

Harbaugh and Zorn got to know each other over the past few years as both were hired as head coaches two years ago.

Both are active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and their wives got to know each other, too.

"We had become good friends just being up the road from them," Harbaugh said. "We had developed a little bit of a relationship with the families. So, we'd been talking pretty much all the way through."

Once quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson accepted the Oakland Raiders' offer to become their offensive coordinator, it wasn't long before Zorn interviewed for the vacancy. He met with Harbaugh and other team officials at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and a deal was quickly worked out.

"When Hue Jackson had the opportunity to go to Oakland as the offensive coordinator, then the dialogue changed," Harbaugh said. "We were just very fortunate that he chose to come here."

The most emotional aspect of the reunion for Zorn is likely to take place on the field before kickoff and after the game.

That's when players and coaches congregate and traditionally have a few conversations.

Zorn figures to be warmly received.

"I got close to some of those players that are on that team, so I wish them well, but we all move on," Zorn said. "My concentration is now to help this football team win. I'm really excited about being a part of the Ravens.

"That's where my concentration is. I don't spend a lot of time going, ‘Gosh, oh gee, whiz, I'm not this or that,' because we don't have time. We're all concentrating and focusing on this football season. That's it."

How's it going to feel for Zorn to run out on the field wearing purple and black instead of burgundy and gold?

What's it going to be like to gaze across the field and see Mike Shanahan running his old football team?

"It'll be different," Zorn said. "I don't know how weird it'll be because my responsibility is to get these quarterbacks ready and get this offense ready in any way I can. That's what I'm doing right now."

If Zorn ever gets another chance to become an NFL head coach again, he says he wouldn't shy away from giving it another shot.

Right now, though, that's not his focus.

He's enjoying what he's doing, working with Flacco, Marc Bulger and Troy Smith.

"I don't know, the circumstance is either going to be there or it's not," said Zorn, who has previously tutored Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Batch. "I'm not in any hurry. If the opportunity arises, I'd like to have the opportunity. I really enjoyed [it]. If I have the opportunity to be here for however long, 10 years in the capacity that I'm in right now, I'm willing."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gaither saga continues

The Jared Gaither saga took another repetitive turn Friday as he remained sidelined with upper back cramps that have rendered him unable to play football.

The Baltimore Ravens' towering offensive tackle is down to 311 pounds, admittedly more than he planned to lose after playing last season at 340 pounds.

The former University of Maryland lineman is struggling with the adjustment to playing at a lighter weight, a development that the Ravens hadn't anticipated when they opened training camp.

"Jared's got some muscle cramps, spasms I guess you'd call them, between his shoulder blades and his upper back," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "So, he just can't get into his stance and really play right now. So, we've got to work that out somehow."

This marks the second time that Gaither has cramped up. His blood work has come back negative.

He was carted off the field a week ago and had ice packs placed on his lower back.

He was able to practice for the majority of this week after returning Monday.

Now, he's sidelined again.

Gaither attended practice, and strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki helped him stretch out.

Earlier this week, Gaither acknowledged that he overdid the weight loss. Gaither worked out on his own away from the Ravens' supervision.

He has said he lost the weight to reduce stress on his foot and toe injuries. However, he's also now far much lighter than most right offensive tackles and resembles a tight end or a basketball player more than an NFL offensive lineman.

"I had a couple of cramps," Gaither said. "I dropped a couple pounds over the summer. I'm just preparing for a great season. I lost a little bit more than I was anticipating and cramped up a little bit my first time out there. I'm back now, and I'm fine."

Gaither's workload at right tackle was taken over by rookie Ramon Harewood and Oniel Cousins as they divided the snaps with the first-team offense.

Harewood is a relatively inexperienced football player having grown up in Barbados playing volleyball, soccer, cricket and rugby before emerging as an NFL prospect at Morehouse, which he attended on an academic scholarship.

Harewood was sidelined during minicamps because of a soft-tissue knee injury, but is 100 percent healthy now.

"Ramon, he comes out here and he's fighting through," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's playing both sides, he's taking every snap and he's the kind of guy that doesn't make the same mistakes twice.

"Really a smart player for a guy that has very little football experience. He has a long way to go, but he's moving pretty quickly."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ravens looking to cut down on penalties

WESTMINSTER --The Baltimore Ravens got tired of seeing yellow flags flying in their direction last season, a trend that never halted as they led the NFL penalty yardage.

Ranked fifth in total penalties assessed last year with 115 for a total of 1,094 penalty yards, the Ravens continue to have college officials working their training camp to make sure the players follow the rules.

“I would say it’s a big point of emphasis for us,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s always been a big emphasis, but probably more so than it has been ever before.”

NFL referee Ron Winter and his officiating crew visited the Ravens to go over new points of emphasis and rule changes earlier in camp.

The aspiring NFL officials are told to not hold back with the flags at camp.

Sometimes, the players argue and lobby for calls or have a bit of fun with defensive end Cory Redding tossing a flag into the air recently.

“We’ve told them to call it tight,” Harbaugh said. “And our coaches are instructed to coach the penalties, not argue about them. And we’ve always tried to do that, but I think more so this year than ever probably.”

So far, Harbaugh said that the Ravens have been cutting down on holding and pass interference penalties.

He’ll judge the real results when the penalties actually count.

“When the games start, we’ll find out,” Harbaugh said. “I think guys have been very conscious about technique. I’ve seen improvement with regard to those things.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

There's a new CB kid in town

The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to a contract with undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Chris Hawkins.

The 6-foot, 187-pound former LSU starter worked out for the Ravens earlier today at training camp at McDaniel College.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” Hawkins' agent, Darin Morgan, told the Carroll County Times. “Hopefully, Chris can take advantage of the opportunity. He certainly has good size and good measurables. The Ravens like cornerbacks with some size, and he fits the bill for what they like.”

Hawkins was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars following the draft.

Jacksonville cut him in July before training camp.

The Ravens lost cornerback Domonique Foxworth for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

They traded quarterback John Beck to the Washington Redskins this week for cornerback Doug Dutch.

Hawkins was invited to the NFL scouting combine in February.

He recorded 119 career tackles, 19 pass deflections and five interceptions for the Tigers.

Ravens to try out cornerback Chris Hawkins

WESTMINSTER -- Still searching for depth at cornerback, the Baltimore Ravens are scheduled to audition former LSU cornerback Chris Hawkins on Thursday.

Hawkins is a 6-foot, 187-pound undrafted rookie free agent who was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars following the draft.

However, Jacksonville cut him in July.

The Ravens lost cornerback Domonique Foxworth for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. They traded quarterback John Beck to the Washington Redskins this week for cornerback Doug Dutch.

Hawkins was invited to the NFL scouting combine in February.

He recorded 119 career tackles, 19 pass deflections and five interceptions for the Tigers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

John Beck traded to Redskins

WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Rumors have been swirling for days that the Baltimore Ravens were looking to trade one of their reserve quarterbacks, John Beck or Troy Smith.

Beck is now expected to be traded to the Washington Redskins.

The former Miami Dolphins second-round draft pick was with the Ravens last season. He was competing with Troy Smith to be the third quarterback.

UPDATE: Ravens receive CB Doug Dutch in return. Dutch spent time on the Redskins’ practice squad in 2009 as a cornerback prospect. He played cornerback at the University of Michigan after converting from wide receiver. He was also a special teams standout in college.

Signed with the Redskins as an undrafted rookie free agent on April 28, 2009

2009 (Redskins)

Signed with the Redskins’ practice squad (11/16) for the remainder of the 2009 season.

Played in all 12 games as a fifth-year senior and played mostly on special teams
Saw action in all 13 games as a senior in 2007, tallying one tackle on defense but seeing the bulk of playing time on special teams

Played in seven games as a junior, seeing action at wide receiver

Played wide receiver in seven games as a sophomore and served on special teams
Caught four passes for 34 yards in sophomore season and returned two punts for 16 yards

Did not see any action as a freshman in 2004

Attended Gonzaga College High School and was a three-year starter and letterman at wide receiver and cornerback

Totaled 60 career receptions for 1,000 yards and scored 25 total touchdowns in his career

Made 207 career stops and 10 interceptions on defense

Held a kick return average of over 50 yards for his high school career

Caught 22 passes for 320 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior andtotaled 45 tackles, 11 pass break-ups and six interceptions returning one for a score
Had 16 receptions for 337 yards and three touchdown catches as a junior
Had 19 punt returns for 238 yards and one return for a touchdown along with five kick returns for 267 yards

Was a three-year letterman in basketball and four-year letterman in track where he holds a school record 10.5 second 100-meters

Holds the school record in the 200-meters (21.7) and 400-meters (46.84)