The Ravens' offensive line took a hit Friday with the news that starting left guard Alex Lewis is done for the season, but Saturday brought better news.
Veteran offensive tackle Austin Howard practiced for the first time as a Raven at Saturday's open practice at M&T Bank Stadium after signing more than a week earlier.
Howard, who had offseason shoulder surgery, missed three practices as he awaited clearance from the team's trainers.
He looked big and strong in practice, matching up well against defensive end Brent Urban, who stood out in Thursday's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins, and others. Howard said he hopes to play Thursday against the Miami Dolphins, but said it hasn't yet been determined.
"I've been itching to get back out here. It was a great day today," Howard said. "Anybody is going to have a little rust, but it's working through that, getting to know this offense and getting to know this team."
Saturday's practice was also a chance to see how the Ravens plan to adjust their offensive line with Lewis out. With Howard at right tackle, James Hurst shifted to left guard.
Hurst played some at left guard during last year's preseason games, and took 16 snaps there during the regular season, per Pro Football Focus.
Everything inside is quicker and the players Hurst will face are stronger, but Hurst has improved his overall strength this offseason. With more practice inside, he's confident he'll get up to speed on the different nuances in technique.
"It's a chance to go start on Sundays," Hurst said. "I'm excited about the chance to go play and get better at it."
"I just think he's a versatile player," Head Coach John Harbaugh added. "That's one of the things about James is that he's very smart. He's got the athletic ability to play inside or outside – he can really move his feet."
The other welcomed news of the day was the return of first-round rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who had missed six practices and Thursday night's preseason opener due to an undisclosed injury. Sheldon Price (undisclosed) also returned.
Harbaugh said Humphrey is "making a run for a starting job," and the rookie said he's willing and able to play in the slot this year if needed.
Quarterback Joe Flacco (back) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (hamstring) remained out.
- Harbaugh said Lewis was the one who opted to have season-ending surgery on his shoulder. He could have tried to play through the injury, but there was concern that it could make the injury worse. "Alex Lewis will be back next year, 100 percent healed and ready to go. Whereas if he would have pushed the thing back, he would have been fighting a shoulder surgery and the whole offseason rehab wise. So there's a lot of wisdom in what he did," Harbaugh said.
- Undrafted wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo made an excellent over-the-shoulder sideline catch while working against top cornerback Jimmy Smith. Mallett put the pass in the perfect spot as well. Adeboyejo made another similar catch later in practice.
- The Ravens had a long session practicing pressure field-goal kicks with the clock running down. After completions, the field goal unit had to rush onto the field to get the kick off in time. Tucker missed his first two tries from 55 and 59 yards, but hit from 48, 46, 50, 44 and 35 yards.
- Second-year wide receiver Chris Moore made an impressive diving catch in one of the hurry-up drills.
- Don't lose sight of undrafted rookie wide receiver C.J. Board. Board make a spectacular catch at the end of Thursday's game, then made a nice touchdown catch in one-on-one drills in Saturday's practice.
- Tight end Benjamin Watson made a tough grab in traffic during red-zone drills. The veteran continues to make strides in his return from Achilles surgery and has been impressive around the end zone.
- Outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith and defensive tackle Michael Pierce got a combo interception when Smith got his hands on a Mallett pass at the line of scrimmage and Pierce hauled in the catch.
- Reserve linebacker Patrick Onwuasor stood out several times during practice. He came underneath a red-zone pass from Josh Woodrum to notch an interception, and was close to getting picks a couple other times. Onwuasor, an undrafted special teams standout last year, is particularly impressive in coverage.
- Running backs Terrance West and Buck Allen showed off their improved pass protection in the 1-on-1 "battles" portion of practice. Rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor and Howard both had strong reps too.