Mason, Birk Return To Practice

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The Ravens welcomed two key veterans back from the injury pile on Friday, as wideout Derrick Mason and center Matt Birk were back on the practice field.

Head Coach John Harbaugh was pleased with their performance.

"Great to see Matt and then Derrick back," Harbaugh noted.  "Derrick looked 100-percent, and Matt really looked 100-percent, too. I'm sure Matt will be a little sore because it was his first practice, but it was good to see him in there."

Birk has been on the physically unable to perform list since the beginning of training camp as he recovered from an offseason elbow procedure.

Harbuagh pointed out that Chris Chester played well in Birk's absence.  

But now, the six-time Pro Bowler can really begin preparing for his 13th season.

"There's nothing like football shape, it's so hard to simulate," said Birk.  "I was happy with what I was able to do, from a pain standpoint.  I tested it out, and it felt pretty good.  I just had to jump in and try to get caught up as soon as I can."

Mason sprained his ankle during Tuesday's morning practice, he was seen walking without a limp around the team hotel and on the sideline since then.

Mason was encouraged after really testing the ankle on Friday.  He did not seem to have any problems running routes and played with the starters all morning.

"I'm a little rusty. I've been out two days, and that's equal about four or five practices," Mason said. "It took me a few minutes to get back to it. I'll be back full-go tomorrow.

"We didn't have any live period, so that was a good thing.  The ankle held up strong, which is a good indicator, and now, I'll continue to rehab it and make progress."
Players Privately Meet With NFL Commissioner Goodell
While Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said a recent players meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was a "waste of time," Mason thought Goodell's visit to Ravens camp was productive.

Goodell spoke to the entire team on Wednesday, and then sat down to lunch with a select group of Ravens.  

"We had some good conversations," said Mason, one of Baltimore's NFL Players Association representatives.  "He had one with the team, where he explained a little bit about himself and what he's doing.  Then he opened the forum up to questions, and there were some really good questions out there.  

"We're just trying to get a feel for what's going to happen and let the Commissioner know about our concerns."

Players across the league have vented frustration with Goodell for not providing a clear assessment of negotiations between the union and owners.

At this point, however, Mason was happy for the chance to voice the players' view of the issues in a face-to-face environment.

"It was civil.  There's no reason for it to get contentious. It was 10 players talking to one Commissioner," Mason said. "You don't want to gang up on him, but still let him know that there are some concerns moving forward trying to get a collective bargaining deal worked out.  It was kind of like a pow-wow with a lot of fellas talking.

"We really dove into some core issues.  We were going back and forth. Some of the issues were explained.  I can't really talk about it because we're still in the process of trying to negotiate the CBA."
Ravens Game Plan For PanthersThe Ravens are six days from opening the preseason against the Carolina Panthers.  

But even though Baltimore plays the Panthers later in the regular season (Nov. 21), Harbaugh doesn't expect many similarities in each game plan.

In fact, Harbaugh expects to be pretty vanilla when the Ravens take the field next Thursday.  

"That's so long from now, it's like another season," said Harbuagh.  "We'll probably be a different offense and a different defense by then. We won't show a lot to anybody, we're just going to run our base stuff and keep guys in playing shape and see who can play."
Suggs Showcases Explosiveness
During one-on-one drills with the offensive linemen, linebacker Terrell Suggs blew past tackle Oniel Cousins on one particular snap, showing Suggs' quickness has returned.

Much has been made about his offseason loss of 20 pounds (from 283 pounds last year), but it seems Suggs is enjoying the benefits of his svelte physique.

"I would say overall he is [playing better], because he's going to be quicker and more explosive, especially on the pass rush stuff," said Harbaugh.  "We've seen that out here. I don't think he'll hurt his run-stopping ability at all.

"I think he feels strongly he wants to be down in that area, and he's doing it."

Practice Tweets

* Mason got big cheers when he hauled in a long rainbow from Joe Flacco and ran to the end zone. He was challenged by Fabian Washington, but wrestled the ball away from the cornerback.

  • Washington got some revenge when he bumped Mason and broke up a pass later.  Mason played to the crowd and yelled at an official for a pass interference flag.
  • In a one-on-one portion, Ken Hamlin got a P.I. call when he was mixed up on a Donte' Stallworth double move.
  • In the offensive/defensive line matchups, Paul Kruger knocked Chris Chester to the side with a heavy hand slap, Terrell Suggs made a speedy rush outside of Oniel Cousins and then Arthur Jones slipped past Bryan Mattison. The defensive line looked good.
  • The windy elements didn't help Shayne Graham, as he missed three field goals.  One of them was from 64 yards, though. Billy Cundiff missed three field goal attempts yesterday.
  • Back in full-team action, Jason Phillips batted a pass that Doug Dutch almost intercepted.
  • Hamlin nearly laid out Todd Heap over the middle, but it was only a "thud" day, no live contact.
  • A deep pass to Anquan Boldin was tipped away by Marcus Paschal.
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