Top draft pick Courtney Upshaw returned to the practice field Monday and quickly made his presence felt.
After sitting out for more than a week because of a bruised shoulder, the outside linebacker got back in the mix and came up with one of the highlights of the day.
Upshaw leveled fellow rookie Tommy Streeter on a passing play where Streeter came across the middle on a pass from Tyrod Taylor. Upshaw stepped up to defend the pass and the two unintentionally collided, with Streeter falling to the turf and Upshaw remaining upright.
"I was dropping back in coverage and I was kind of reading Tyrod's eyes and saw Streeter coming, so I figured he was going to throw it there," Upshaw said after practice. "I really wasn't trying to hit him and the contact shouldn't have happened, but it did. It was just me doing what I was supposed to do."
The second-round pick showed no hesitation on the play with an ailing shoulder that has recently held him out of action. After practice, Upshaw said that his shoulder "felt good."
Head Coach John Harbaugh gradually worked Upshaw back into the rotation, as he participated in some of the 11-on-11 drills, but not all of them. Harbaugh did say that its unlikely Upshaw will suit up Thursday for the preseason opener against Atlanta, but they have yet to make a final decision.
"He's been out for over a week, so we probably want to get him to practice a little more before we play him," Harbaugh said.
Upshaw is still hoping to be on the field Thursday night because he will have a large contingency of friends and family in attendance with this game being the closest the Ravens play to his hometown in Alabama.
"I'm hoping to play," Upshaw said. "I really want to play because I have a bunch of people showing up to the game in Atlanta, but honestly I understand if I don't because they want to make sure that I'm ready and 100 percent."
Regardless of whether Upshaw plays on Thursday, Harbaugh did say that the team's expectations have not changed based on his injury. He is still listed as the starting rush linebacker – Terrell Suggs' position – on the official depth chart, and Harbaugh said that he still has plenty of time to develop before the season starts.
"We're just a little bit more delayed than we'd want to be, because we'd like to have him out there practicing," Harbaugh said. "It's part of training camp. You don't ever want to overreact to that. It's a long training camp. Courtney is going to get plenty of reps."
"Courtney is a piece that we need to get out there and evaluate and develop, and he will be in there soon enough."