Everyone is eager for the return of Lamar Jackson (Reserve/COVID 19) to practice – coaches, players and fans.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said Jackson is expected back this weekend, either Friday or Saturday, depending upon when the 10-day count for his absence officially began.
"I'll plan for Friday," Harbaugh said smiling. "Plan for the best and we'll see."
The Ravens were in pads for the first time Tuesday and continued the crisp practice tone that has been set despite Jackson's absence. He will have some catching up to do once he takes the field, but center Bradley Bozeman has no doubt Jackson would get up to speed quickly.
"When he gets back he's going to be ready for it," Bozeman said. "Don't have any doubt about that. I know he's studying his butt off. He's taking his drops, probably in his living room or wherever he's doing it. The guy's going to be ready to play. He's a competitor. Excited to get him back in a couple of days and really get after it."
Newly-acquired outside linebacker Justin Houston, who officially signed Monday, will have to go through testing protocols, but he is expected to take the field in a few more days.
"If you're unvaccinated, you have to go through the five-day testing protocol that they had last year," Harbaugh said. "They'll tell me when he's going to be there, we'll have him plugged into practice."
Harbaugh Doesn't Think Kevin Zeitler Foot Issue Is Serious
Veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler, who was signed during free agency to be the starting right guard, left practice early with a foot issue.
"It doesn't look serious they tell me," Harbaugh said.
Right tackle Alejandro Villanueva was given a veteran's day off, leaving the Ravens without the starting ride side of their offensive line. With All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) still not practicing, the offensive line was shorthanded, but there were plenty of reps available for young offensive linemen.
Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris likes the way the group is progressing, but he said it was too early to make any determinations about which linemen are separating from the pack. The biggest unresolved decision is to determine the starting left guard, where Ben Cleveland, Tyre Phillips and Ben Powers are all in the mix.
"First day in pads, so I'm not going to say anything right now, just let it happen," D'Alessandris said. "That will take place as time moves on."
Tyre Phillips Seeing Reps At Multiple Spots
The Ravens like the versatility of second-year offensive lineman Tyre Phillips, who started some games at right guard and right tackle as a rookie.
Phillips can play guard or tackle on both sides, which will make him a valuable backup if he doesn't win the starting job at left guard. Training camp is being used to help determine the best fit for Phillips in the offensive line picture.
"Right now, we're just going to experiment with him and see," D'Alessandris said. "He did a really good job last year when we played Buffalo in the last game of the season. I thought that was his best game of the year as a tackle – as a right tackle. We played him at guard last year, and we threw him in with very little experience. He was a left tackle at Mississippi State, and I think he only started that one year and played a little bit before that. I think he's a young player that is growing, and I think he'll find his place, and we'll find a place for him."
Harbaugh Reflects on Passing of Vice President of Security Darren Sanders
Harbaugh began Tuesday's press conference with reflective thoughts about Darren Sanders, the Ravens' long-time vice president of security who passed away July 23 at age 55 after battling cancer.
Sanders joined the Ravens in 2004 after a distinguished career with the Baltimore City Police Department. He was often by Harbaugh's side at games and on road trips, and they shared a close friendship. Sanders' funeral was Tuesday morning.
"I want to start off by just acknowledging the passing of Darren Sanders," Harbaugh said. "The funeral was this morning during practice. Many of us were there yesterday afternoon and last night at the viewing with the family. One of the best people I've ever known. One of the most standup people I've ever known. Impacted everybody in this organization one way or another, including myself. One of the best friends I've ever had. He was there for you in good times, tough times especially.
"If you were at the showing last night, you would know, from 1 o'clock until 8 o'clock, it was a steady stream of three parking lots full of cars. People in and out, it was packed for the eight hours. It wasn't just here, it was everywhere in the Baltimore community. Rest in peace Darren Sanders."