Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

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."

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