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News & Notes: Michael Pierce Absent From Minicamp for 'Personal Matter'

DT Michael Pierce

The Ravens brought back Michael Pierce to strengthen their defensive line, but he has yet to practice this offseason.

Pierce missed Tuesday's first practice of mandatory minicamp after not being present at voluntary OTAs earlier this month. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Pierce's absence was due to a personal matter.

"I can't give you any details," Harbaugh said. "I can tell you it's a personal matter. We understand the situation. It is what it is, and that's where it stands."

The 29-year-old Pierce played his first four NFL seasons with the Ravens and re-signed with them on a three-year contract in March, after spending the past two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Pierce only played eight games with Minnesota, missing nine games last season with an elbow injury and opting out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

During his four seasons in Baltimore, Pierce was an important part of the defensive line rotation and the Ravens hope he will step into that role again. Baltimore retooled its defensive line during the offseason, drafting defensive tackle Travis Jones in the third round and reuniting with defensive end Brent Urban in late May. They will join top returning linemen Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington.

Marcus Williams Limited to Individual Drills

Key free agent addition Marcus Williams participated in individual drills, but watched from the sidelines during 11-on-11 drills. Harbaugh said there is no reason for concern.

"He's working through some physical things, kind of working his way in," Harbaugh said. "There are certain guys who have issues that they are dealing with. They're going through the pace they can at this time. Nothing major. Part of that process this time of year."

Durability has been one of Williams' strengths, playing in 76 of a possible 81 games during his five seasons with as a ball-hawking safety with the Saints. The Ravens have major plans for Williams, and his absence from full-field work on Tuesday meant more reps for veteran Tony Jefferson, who had an outstanding practice with two interceptions.

Mark Andrews Says Don't Sleep on Rashod Bateman's Speed

During his rookie season, Rashod Bateman caught 46 passes for 515 yards and a touchdown, averaging 11.2 yards per catch and having most of his success running short and intermediate routes.

However, Bateman averaged 16.3 yards per catch during his three college seasons at Minnesota and was a consistent deep threat. The trade that sent Marquise "Hollywood" Brown to Arizona has elevated Bateman to the role of No. 1 receiver, and tight end Mark Andrews clearly sees Bateman's potential to produce more big plays. Bateman broke open on a deep route during Tuesday's practice but was overthrown by Lamar Jackson.

"He's running great routes," Andrews said. "A lot of his releases, he's getting open at the line super quick. Then he's got a burst of speed that people really don't talk about. Second year, he's a guy that's just going to get better and better. The sky's the limit for him."

Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace all have an opportunity for bigger roles in 2022, and Andrews loves the camaraderie of the young wide receiver room.

"James Proche's got a basketball hoop in the locker room and they're literally playing all the time," Andrews said. "It's a close group. They're a hungry group. They know what's at stake and they're ready to go."

Andrews Disappointed He Will Miss Tight End University

49ers tight end George Kittle announced that the second annual Tight End University will be held June 22-24 in Nashville, a gathering where NFL tight ends exchange trade secrets and work on their craft to get better. More than 50 tight ends attended last year, and Andrews used it as part of his preparation for an All-Pro season in 2021.

However, a scheduling conflict will prevent Andrews from attending this year.

"I've actually got a wedding this year, so I'll be in San Diego," Andrews said. "I talked to George about it. That's a great event. I'm going to miss hanging out with those guys, all the tight ends. I'm sad I'm not going."

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