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Saturday Notes: Ravens Get Rest


As the Ravens ended Saturday's morning practice with the usual team huddle, many players seemed to have an extra hop in their step as they headed towards the locker room.

It was finally time for a brief vacation.

Head coach John Harbaugh ended a string of eight consecutive two-a-day practices this weekend, canceling sessions on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The team will reconvene Sunday for meetings and a full-squad practice at 3:00 p.m., followed by two days of double-dips before traveling Wednesday for the Ravens' preseason opener against the New England Patriots (Thursday, Aug. 7, 7:30 p.m.).

With multiple positions suffering depth challenges due to injuries – such as offensive and defensive tackle, tight end and running back – the respite couldn't have come at a better time.

Still, Harbaugh insists that he didn't make his decision based on those in the training room. He wanted to reward the dedication his players have shown on the field.

"It's because guys have done a great job of working hard," Harbaugh said. "You try to get a certain amount of work in. We have not built in any predetermined days off for a reason, because we want guys to understand that they don't have a day off. There is no day off that is given to them. They earn it. And they have earned it.

"These guys have worked hard – how many days now? I've lost count – morning after morning. They got out today and did the same thing, and they need the rest."

The cars couldn't leave Westminster's Best Western parking lot faster, as players carried hastily-packed suitcases out of the team's remote headquarters to return home for a night.

"We need to get them off their legs," Harbaugh continued. "We need to get them into the tub, get them home with their wives and their kids for 24 hours and come back and start again tomorrow afternoon.

"I'm proud of them. I'm really happy with the way they've worked, and it's time now to give them an afternoon off."

Talk of heading out on the town or enjoying a favorite restaurant was bandied around, but one of the most popular plans seemed to be what wideout Matt Willis had in store for himself.

"I'm just looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, getting some rest," Willis said. "That sounds like a good weekend to me."

Here are some notes and observations from Saturday's practice:

  • Wideout Mark Clayton joined the injured masses with a sprained shoulder, as the Ravens' tally grows. Baltimore did gain linebacker Gary Stills and tackle Joe Reitz, who were both out Friday.

Also not practicing were running backs Willis McGahee (knee), Cory Ross (undisclosed) and P.J. Daniels (undisclosed); tight ends Daniel Wilcox (foot) and Aaron Walker (undisclosed); linebacker Dan Cody (foot); wideouts Demetrius Williams (leg) and Patrick Carter (shoulder); offensive tackles Oniel Cousins (knee), Adam Terry (ankle) and Jared Gaither (ankle); fullback Justin Green (knee); and defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (MCL), Justin Bannan (undisclosed) and Kelly Gregg (knee).

  • In Clayton's absence, return specialist Yamon Figurs ran with the first-string alongside Derrick Mason. Figurs made several nice catches and obviously showed his blazing speed. Rookie Marcus Smith was primarily the third receiver.

At defensive tackle, Dwan Edwards started, with Kelly Talavou filling in. Trevor Pryce missed the first half of practice, but he came out of the locker room and finished on the line, as well.

  • Adam Bergen got more opportunities with the starters when Todd Heap left practice early with his calf tightly wrapped.

Bergen, who seems to have passed Lee Vickers as the Ravens' No. 2 tight end, has solid hands, and it seems Baltimore's quarterbacks have confidence in the former Arizona Cardinal. The 6-foot-4, 267-pounder did get flagged for a pass interference penalty, however.

  • The Ravens had a scare when cornerback Fabian Washington got tangled up with receiver Darnerian McCants in the end zone and laid on the turf, but Washington was later seen running on the sideline with Baltimore's trainers.
  • Safety Dawan Landry marked an interception of Troy Smith, but Corey Ivy's pick of Kyle Boller was the best of the day. As he was falling to the ground, Ivy located the ball after it tipped off Ernie Wheelwright. Ivy bobbled the pass for a bit, then secured it flat on his back.
  • While the injury bug has taken its toll on Ravens offensive tackles, the starting core of the line remains intact. Harbaugh is encouraged by the play of Ben Grubbs at left guard, Jason Brown at center and Marshal Yanda at right guard. The trio has taken every training camp snap together.

"They're starting to look like they've got a chance to be a solid unit throughout the season," the coach said. "The calls and the communication have been really good, especially the last two or three days."

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