Marlon Humphrey practiced at full speed during OTAs on Wednesday, showing no aftereffects from his season-ending torn pectoral injury suffered in early December.
It would have been understandable if Humphrey had skipped voluntary OTAs. But the All-Pro cornerback was eager to join his teammates, and he was elated to practice with no restrictions.
"It feels really good to be back," Humphrey said. "My season ended early. I'm thankful to be back playing ball, being healthy, being with the guys."
Humphrey wasn't the only player who returned from injury. Running back Justice Hill, who missed all last season with a torn Achilles, was running well during drills. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (January shoulder surgery) was back on the field, as was outside linebacker Daelin Hayes, who played just one game as a rookie.
"I feel good," Oweh said. "It (shoulder) bothered me. Coming from Penn State, growing up where I grew up, you learn to play through stuff like that and not even think about it. It definitely got a little more hectic toward the end of the season, but I'm good now."
The Ravens were ravaged by injuries last season and seeing some of those players return in May is a huge plus, with the regular season still months away.
"Yeah, it's a big deal," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I could sit up here and try to play it cool on that, but it wouldn't be real."
Chuck Clark Takes Professional Approach As Always
After the Ravens signed safety Marcus Williams in free agency and drafted safety Kyle Hamilton in the first round, pundits began to speculate on safety Chuck Clark's role next season. Clark hasn't commented publicly on the situation, but Harbaugh said after the draft that "Chuck is a big part of this team."
With Williams not in attendance during Wednesday's practice, Clark took regular reps on defense and was a leader on the back end. He was still coaching up his teammates, including linebacker Patrick Queen, as he walked off the field. It's what the Ravens expect from Clark, a studious player and defensive leader who has worn the communication helmet in previous seasons, relaying calls to teammates.
"It's Chuck," Harbaugh said. "He didn't want to miss OTAs; that's something that was important to him, and he came in here on Tuesday ready to go and in great shape and picked up right where he left off. He just walked in the building, and he was Chuck Clark – running the defense. So, it's not surprising at all."
Harbaugh Expects Young Wide Receivers to Seize Their Opportunity
The trade that sent wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown to the Cardinals has given Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Tylan Wallace and other wide receivers an opportunity to have bigger roles in the offense. It's a young receiving corps, with Duvernay and Proche entering their third seasons while Bateman and Wallace are entering Year 2. Harbaugh believes in the group, and OTAs will be an important part of the growth process.
"I'm really excited about it," Harbaugh said. "I think at some point in time you've got to put guys out there. We all like to cling to the known, the names, whatever it might be. It's an opportunity to throw those guys out there and see how they do.
"I can tell you this – they're working really hard. They understand the situation, and I think they're making the most of it. They've been here for almost months now. They've been here from the beginning working extremely hard."
Guardian Cap Helmets Being Worn at OTAs
For those wandering what those bubbles are on the Ravens' helmets, rookies and some other players have been wearing Guardian Cap protective covers, featuring a soft shell engineered to reduce impact. Harbaugh said the covers would be more prevalent during the first two weeks of training camp.
"It's a concussion-type of protection," Harbaugh said. "It's lessening the blow, especially for the linemen, who have more of the multiple contacts in practice. It's required for the whole team in the first two weeks of training camp, for all the front-seven guys. It's not required now, so they have the choice not to wear it. We pretty much put all the rookies in it. They're rookies, so we're requiring them to do it. But in training camp, you'll see all those guys in it for the first two weeks."