Head coach John Harbaugh's stamp of physicality and competitiveness has shown in crisp practices throughout the offseason, but it really reared its head in some heated scuffles Saturday morning.
The Ravens went indoors in response to the gloomy weather, and perhaps it was the confined space that caused tensions to rise.
Rookie Oniel Cousins, a 6-foot-4, 310-pouond tackle out of UTEP, and defensive lineman Amon Gordon, no slouch at 6-foot-2, 305 pounds, got into a swinging match after the third-round draft pick was a little overzealous making a downfield block.
Later, cornerbacks Corey Ivy and Frank Walker had to be separated when Walker threw a punch.
Both times, other players stepped in to quell the fray. In fact, the entire team seemed to get involved with the Cousins-Gordon card.
While it was evident that the players had put all brawls behind them at the end of the day, the air of intensity still remained.
"That's behind us," said Gordon of his fight. "We're both men about it. You have to go on to the next play."
"Hey, they want us to get after it and compete," Cousins explained from his locker five yards away. "It's just part of the game."
In between the morning and evening sessions, Harbaugh admitted that he would accept the extra-curricular activities as long as it didn't interrupt the hasty flow of the workouts.
"I think we have guys who take care of each other, even in the brawl, guys were taking care of each other, and we can get back and practice," said the coach. "The thing that they understand is that we're not going to slow down practice, and we're not going to miss any reps. So, it takes a lot of energy to fight."
Defensive tackle Trevor Pryce, who is entering his 12th professional season, had a different take, however.
In his typically insightful manner, Pryce said he would rather see such energy expended by beating other football teams into submission, not teammates.
"Go ahead, wrestle each other, pull each other's facemasks, yeah, great, wonderful, have fun," he stated, looking ahead to the Ravens' difficult schedule next season. "Now we gotta go play the Patriots. They won 18 straight football games. The Giants won the frigging Super Bowl. Do we really have to prove we're all men? We're all professional football players. We've all been in fights. We're the best of what the Ravens can find. As far as being men and being tough and all that, we're all tough. We all know that.
"So now we've proved I'm tough, you're tough, hooray, we're all tough. Are we a good football team? What's more important, proving you're tough or proving we're a good football team? That's how I look at it."
Gooden Gives It Up
Linebacker Tavares Gooden wore No. 52 at the University of Miami, much like one of his idols, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
While he would have requested 52 if he was drafted by any other team, the third-round selection is comfortable in his current 49 jersey.
"That's alright," he said. "A great guy has it. A legendary player. I'm just trying to follow in his footsteps and play just like he did while he was here."
Just as Ed Reed helped establish a tradition of talented safeties to come out of Coral Gables, Gooden wants to further a pipeline of linebackers from 'The U.'
"It's more of an expectation thing. I want to go out there and do it," he continued. "I want to be great. I have all these guys, the linebackers here that are in the upper ages. They can help me out with a lot of things that they've learned over the past 10 years, while they've been here."
Clayton Weighs In
In the uproar surrounding Joe Flacco's arrival at Ravens headquarters yesterday, nearly every player in the locker room seemed to get the "What do you think?" question.
Wideout Mark Clayton chimed in about the quarterback race on Saturday.
"He's good," he said of Flacco. "He looks pretty comfortable with the offense. That's impressive for a young guy. He throws a good ball. All of our guys have strong arms. He's fitting right in. It's going to be a very interesting race."
Clayton was on the receiving end of a 50-yard bomb from the rookie during Friday's first practice.
The Ravens' crop of tight ends got thinner, as rookie free agent Scott Kuhn was in a thumb brace and watched from the sideline during the afternoon session. Todd Heap practiced in the morning, but was limited in the afternoon, while Daniel Wilcox is still recovering from offseason foot surgery and Lee Vickers is suffering from an undisclosed hand injury. Joe Reitz, a former collegiate basketball player from Western Michigan, and Xavier Lee, a converted quarterback out of Florida State, have been taking reps at the position, as has Marshal Yanda…Return specialist Yamon Figurs did not practice with a hand injury…Cousins has seen time at left tackle, and Harbaugh thinks the rookie's intensity is an advantage. "Oniel Cousins is a competitive guy," said the coach. "You saw that out there."