The Ravens held their first practice of training camp Thursday on a hot, sticky morning at the Under Armour Performance Center. Baltimore practiced for two and a half hours in 90-plus degree weather.
"We're certainly not ready for primetime, but for the first day it was a good start," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "They practiced fast. It was hot and they pushed through it."
The biggest note was a scare late in practice when rookie running back Kenneth Dixon came up gimpy with a knee issue. He caught a pass in the flat and then collided with undrafted rookie linebacker Patrick Onwuasor along the sideline. Dixon got attention from the trainers after the play and then limped off the field into the locker room.
Harbaugh calmed any concerns with Dixon's knee issue after practice when he said the rookie "has just a slight, slight thing with the knee," and he could return to practice as early as Friday.
Third-year running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, however, might be sidelined for longer. After having his first two seasons ended by Lisfranc foot issues, the Ravens put him on the physically unable to perform list because Harbaugh said, "he's not quite there yet as far as coming out and practicing."
The other notable absences on the attendance report were wide receivers Mike Wallace and Dobson Collins, and cornerback Jerraud Powers, who all failed their conditioning tests. Other players on the PUP were also obviously not participating, including outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman and running back Trent Richardson.
Here were other notes from camp's first practice:
- Quarterback Joe Flacco was back on the field taking full reps with the first-team offense. Flacco showed no hesitation from last year's torn ACL, and the only lingering signs from his rehab is that he's wearing a brace and a red non-contact jersey. Quarterbacks are already off-limits when it comes to contact in practice, but the red jersey is a bright reminder for all defenders to keep their distance from the franchise quarterback.
- The first two practices of camp are an acclimation period for the team. Players practice in shorts and shells. They still run full speed, but there is no full contact. They will put on pads on Saturday, and that's when the intensity typically picks up.
- Tight end Dennis Pitta looked just like his old self in practice. He hauled in a number of catches, including a laser from Flacco over the middle. At one point, Pitta fell to the ground after colliding with a defender, but he popped right up without any concern for his surgically repaired hip.
- Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (back), wide receiver Michael Campanaro (calf) and cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (foot) and Will Davis (knee) all returned to practice as full participants after being sidelined during the offseason.
- Second-year pass catcher Daniel Brown has made the transition from wide receiver to tight end. Brown has potential, and he earned his way onto the active roster late last season. He'll have his work cut out for him to make the team, but the versatility to play either position is a valuable trait.
- Another second-year player making the transition to tight end is Darren Waller. He came up with the most impressive play of the morning by bringing in an over-the-shoulder grab down the sideline. Waller is suspended the first four games of the season, but he is eligible to practice in training camp and play in the preseason.
- Flacco and backup quarterback Ryan Mallett gave rookie receiver Chris Moore a few deep shots in practice. The fourth-round speedster wasn't able to convert on any of the big plays, but the quarterbacks are certainly looking his way. He also got a good workout running seam routes up and down the field.
- The coaching staff wasn't deterred by the heat. They were dressed in black from head to toe, with several even wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants.