Among the Ravens still remaining on the Reserve/COVID-19 list are MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson and tight end Mark Andrews, the team's leading pass catcher.
Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. is close to both players. Brown, Jackson, and Andrews were all in Baltimore's 2018 draft class and Brown and Andrews were college teammates at Oklahoma. Brown has kept in touch with both as they've been on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and said Jackson sounded good during a recent phone conversation.
"He's feeling well," Brown said. "He's very similar to Mark in the sense that he wants to be out there playing. This is a family here that we've been able to be a part of and help create, a certain type of atmosphere and mentality in the locker room. It's hard watching from at home, or even on the sidelines, for someone that's hurt. I know Lamar is looking forward to getting out there."
Andrew is a Type-1 diabetic, a condition that can add complications for someone with the coronavirus. However, Head Coach John Harbaugh gave an encouraging update on Andrews.
"I have not been informed of any issues," Harbaugh said. "(I) talked to Mark a couple of days ago, I'm due to call to him again. I have not heard of any negative consequences of the diabetes with Mark up until this point. So that's a positive."
Brown echoed Harbaugh's thoughts on Andrews.
"I stay in touch with him consistently, whether he's got COVID or not. That's one of my best friends," Brown said. "But he's doing really well. Obviously, he wants to be out there. He misses ball. That's what we do for a living. But he'll be excited when he can come back."
Harbaugh said that once players are activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the amount of practice time they get will depend on how they're feeling.
Update on Coaches D'Alessandris and Weiss
Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris and Running Backs Coach Matt Weiss did not travel to Pittsburgh for Wednesday's night's game due to illness. Harbaugh said he was not certain if the two coaches would be back for Tuesday's night's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
"I have to look at the days exactly on whether they'll be back," Harbaugh said. "They're both doing well. I talked to Joe D this morning. Talked to Matt Weiss last night. Our prayers are with them and the other guys and their families."
Assistant Offensive Line Coach Rich Angulo and Senior Assistant/Running Backs coach Craig Ver Steeg have filled in for D'Alessandris and Weiss respectively.
Return to Practice Another Step Toward More Normalcy
The Ravens were glad to get back on the practice field Friday, after the disjointed schedule that preceded the Pittsburgh game. Rookie linebacker Patrick Queen said a lack of practice time caused his body to react differently during the early stages against the Steelers.
"The biggest part, not being able to practice or anything, going into a game full contact and you hit somebody, it's like your body goes into shock from not hitting for a week or two," Queen said.
Brown also said he missed working against the Ravens' defensive line in practice.
"At my position specifically, I guess you could says it's a little harder to just show up on Sunday and do your job without the preparation throughout the week of feeling the pass rush, feeling the body, feeling the run defender and all the fits on the double teams," Brown said. "We got a lot of work today. We still haven't peaked yet which is a great thing in my opinion. I'm excited to get back out there and get to working on those things."
Facing a game next Tuesday following a Wednesday game, the new schedule still doesn't feel normal. Harbaugh was asked if he knew what day it was.
"Absolutely not," he said with a chuckle.
Queen Is a Rookie Determined to Avoid Hitting a Rookie Wall
Rookies are often asked about hitting a "rookie wall", a period during the season when they feel sluggish or burned out from the grind of their first 16-game schedule. Queen has been a starter from Day 1, and he is the team's leading tackler (79) with two sacks and two forced fumbles. He isn't worried about running out of gas.
"It gets tough every now and then," Queen said. "But at the end of the day I remember why I'm here, I remember all the stuff I went through previously before I got here. That just motivates me. I hear the talk out there. I like to talk. Some people say block out the noise but I love the noise. That's what motivates me to be better."
Queen nearly had his first interception of the season against Pittsburgh but Ben Roethlisberger's pass slipped through his hands. There have been times when opposing quarterbacks have successfully tested Queen's pass coverage, but he believes he is improving.
"I feel like my coverage skills are getting way better," Queen said. "I have to settle down. I got a little rocky in the beginning. Kind of got shook. Finding my way back. That's a play I should've made. I tried to one-hand the ball, saw the ball and tried to hurry up and grab it. Plays like that, they will be made from now on."