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News & Notes 9/1: Several Starters Return to Practice

Left: CB Marlon Humphrey; Center: TE Nick Boyle; Right: WR Sammy Watkins

Several Starters Return to Ravens Practice

With the regular season less than two weeks away, three key Ravens starters are back on the field.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and tight end Nick Boyle were all on the practice field Wednesday after extended absences. Backup running back Justice Hill was also back and wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was again participating after returning Monday.

"I thought they looked good," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's good to have them back, and we're going to work now."

There's 12 days before the Ravens' regular-season opener in Las Vegas. At the end of this week, players will have three straight days off as a final break before going into full regular-season mode.

"I think the players feel like, 'Let's go, man! It's the season,'" Harbaugh said. "You feel like the team is consolidated and the season is imminent. … I think everybody starts feeling a sense of urgency for playing the first game."

It's Boyle's first practice since he suffered a major season-ending knee injury Nov. 15 in New England. Head Coach John Harbaugh said this week that he does not expect Boyle to play in Week 1 but does "anticipate him being ready early in the season."

Watkins has been dealing with minor camp ailments while Humphrey suffered a minor strain on Aug. 17.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Miles Boykin are among the Ravens still rehabbing and not back at practice Wednesday.

Ben Mason Reportedly Signs to Patriots Practice Squad

Baltimore released fifth-round rookie fullback Ben Mason, likely hoping to get him back on their practice squad. Mason cleared through waivers as no other team opted to add him to their 53-man roster, but the Michigan product opted to sign with the Patriots' practice squad instead.

Mason was seen as a developmental prospect behind Pro Bowl fullback Pat Ricard, who is slated to become a free agent after this season. The Ravens weren't going to keep two fullbacks and Mason didn't beat out another option at tight end.

The Patriots now have two Ravens 2021 fifth-round picks, as cornerback Shaun Wade was traded to New England last week. Outside linebacker Daelin Hayes is Baltimore's other fifth-round rookie.

Nigel Warrior and Nate McCrary Picked Up Off Waivers

The Ravens lost two of their top players released during Tuesday's cutdown to 53, as defensive back Nigel Warrior and running back Nate McCrary were claimed off waivers.

Warrior was part of a very tight competition in the secondary, but Baltimore couldn't make space for all of them and opted to keep Geno Stone, Chris Westry and undrafted rookie Ar'Darius Washington instead. Warrior, who was a safety at Tennessee, spent last season on the Ravens' practice squad.

McCrary, who ran 42 times for 163 yards in three preseason games, was one of just three running backs claimed off waivers. The undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State was competing with Ty'Son Williams and Justice Hill for a roster spot following J.K. Dobbins' season-ending injury.

Ravens' Practice Squad Development Pays Off

Among those on the initial 53-man roster this year is five players that began last season on the Ravens' practice squad: Williams, quarterback Tyler Huntley, center Trystan Colon, long snapper Nick Moore and inside linebacker Kristian Welch.

Three of those players saw regular-season action last year after call-ups to the 53-man roster (Huntley, Colon, Welch).

It speaks to the fact that landing on the practice squad hardly means a player won't be able to eventually become an impact player. It also shows how the Ravens have done well grooming their players.

"It's nice to hear that stat," Harbaugh said. "It is what we strive for, no doubt about it, and I'm just happy for the guys, individually. Every single guy is an individual story, and each of those stories is fascinating – when you get to know these guys – and I'm excited for each one of them."

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