Ravens Update

Ravens Update

As the Baltimore Ravens' defense broke the huddle Tuesday afternoon, there was a noticeably leaner Ray Lewis lining up at his traditional middle linebacker spot.

And there was an extremely conspicuous absence in the secondary as a famous bearded defensive star was nowhere to be found.

Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed skipped the Ravens' mandatory minicamp, a finable action under the NFL collective bargaining agreement for an unexcused absence.

Reed can be fined up to $63,000 if he misses all three days of practices and an additional $9,915 for missing a team physical, all at the Ravens' discretion. And Reed apparently hasn't spoken with coach John Harbaugh. Meanwhile, Lewis indicated that an infant son may be occupying Reed's time. "I have not communicated with Ed," Harbaugh said. "So, I'm not sure what the situation is on that." When asked if he was concerned with Reed being a no-show, Harbaugh inferred that Reed will be fined: "The CBA applies, and I haven't talked to him."

Reed has indicated several times this offseason that he's conflicted about splitting his time between his family and football, saying in one interview that he's not 100 percent committed to playing this season. Reed later backtracked on that statement and the Times was provided a comment from the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year where he stated that he will continue to play.

"It's not about retirement, it's about my focus in the offseason, health, family and football," said Reed, who has battled hip, neck and shoulder injuries in recent years. "This is the time of year where players think through things. My goal is to play football in the years to come." Reed, 33, has denied that any unhappiness stems from his contract situation even though it's no secret that he wants a new deal. Reed is due $7.2 million as he enters the final year of a six-year, $44.5 million contract. However, Reed has no agent currently representing him for contract negotiations or to operate as a buffer between him and team management. Despite the apparent disconnect between Reed and the organization, Lewis downplayed the situation and predicted that Reed will ultimately rejoin his teammates for training camp. "Whatever him and coach and them have talked about, they have talked about and I don't think it's an issue at all," Lewis said. "Ed has other things going on, a baby boy, and he is really trying to focus on things like that. Sometimes, life calls you away from the game. "These three days won't take away from where Ed Reed's focus is and that is to come back in and help our defense be the best defense there is in football. So, I don't think it is an issue at all. Not for us, not for us." While Harbaugh indicated he hasn't talked with Reed, Lewis said he remains in frequent contact with his old friend and defensive colleague. "Absolutely, I talked to him," Lewis said. "I talk to Ed all the time, and I don't expect anything different. Ed is Ed. When July 25 comes on, Ed will be here and we will be getting ready to roll."

Although he's four years older than Reed, Lewis is in a much different place with the defending AFC North champions. Lewis, 37, seems assured of his future with the franchise given his rapport with general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti and not focused on when he'll step away from the game when the topic of wide receiver Derrick Mason's retirement was broached. "Being here in Baltimore for now 17 years, it's a different energy," Lewis said. "So, you never really think about, 'Oh, when's it going to come?' If I'm trading teams here and there, OK, my window could be closing. "For me, the relationship that me, Ozzie and Steve have, and the relationship I have with my body is, go as long as you can go. And so that thought process never really comes up. Whenever it happens, it happens, but it's definitely nothing I think about."

What has consumed Lewis' thoughts this offseason is getting in optimal condition. The 6-foot-1, 250-pounder has been involved in a training regimen of bicycle riding and swimming, and he looked trim and quick on the practice field Tuesday. Despite missing four games with a toe injury last season, Lewis led the Ravens with 95 tackles and also recorded two sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.

Lewis said he's simply making adjustments to a sport based heavily on speed and less on brawn with the passing game becoming so prevalent around the NFL.

"Anytime you come back in your 17th year, you kind of want to come back with a different mentality and different thinking," Lewis said. "My mentality was change with the game. There's no more true, true, true, physical, physical fullbacks that are going to come at me and sledgehammer all day. Everything is about mismatches now. Everything is about speed and about running and trying to get smaller people on the field.

"So, just adjust to the game. As you see guys get older in their careers, you see a lot of people don't do that. That was my thing this year. It was like, 'All right, the game is changing like that. Everybody wants to go with these little five-wides and all this different stuff.' Just change with the game, and that was kind of my thought process."

Ravens notebook: McKinnie held out of practice for conditioning issues


The Baltimore Ravens made a judgment call in March when they picked up a $500,000 roster bonus to retain starting left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie. Months later, the Ravens made another decision involving McKinnie when they kept him off the practice field at a mandatory minicamp due to wanting him to focus on getting in better shape. "Bryant McKinnie is a guy that we held out for just conditioning purposes," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We are going to probably continue to do that and try to continue to get him in good shape. Practice-wise, he is just as well doing the conditioning part of it." The Ravens had starting right tackle Michael Oher line up with the first-team offense at left tackle with Jah Reid taking over Oher's spot on the right side after missing the past few weeks of practice with a strained lower back. Oher has started on the left side in the past and could potentially shift over there permanently if McKinnie doesn't get prepared to play. McKinnie was cut by the Minnesota Vikings last summer when he reported at 387 pounds. He was signed by the Ravens and started every game, playing his way into shape.

McKinnie has been a regular participant in the Ravens' offseason conditioning program and the 6-foot-8 former Pro Bowl blocker has said he's down to 358 pounds with a target goal of getting down to 345 pounds.

It's unclear if McKinnie has had a setback with his workouts and diet.

"I'm glad I'm here so I can go through this now instead of what happened last year," McKinnie said last month. "Last year, I felt like I was on Celebrity Fit Club. I've been working and trying to stay active, and I didn't have much time off since we actually have an offseason. That helps out a lot. I came back here and have been participating in a big majority of what's going on here.

McKinnie pledged to general manager Ozzie Newsome in March that he would get into better shape prior to being paid the bonus. "When I came up here in March, he said to show commitment and I'll stay committed to you," McKinnie said. "I feel like I need to take part and it helps me."

BIRK HAS SURGERY: Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk was excused from practice after undergoing surgery last week to address varicose veins in his legs.

That procedure had been planned for a while for the 35-year-old lineman with rookie Gino Gradkowski replacing him at center Tuesday. "He has those veins, he had to get those cleaned up," Harbaugh said. "We tried to get it done earlier. We could not get it done earlier whatever doctor's reasons there were. He was not allowed to fly this week, so he wouldn't have been able to practice anyway."

RICE ABSENT: As expected, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice didn't attend practice.

As a franchise player who hasn't signed his $7.742 million tender, Rice isn't required contractually to attend offseason workouts or practices.

The Ravens have until July 16 to sign Rice to a long-term deal. Otherwise, he'll play the entire season under the franchise tag.

WILLIAMS RUNS WITH FIRST-TEAM: The Ravens are certainly paying former Cincinnati Bengals offensive guard Bobbie Williams like they expect him to become a starter. Williams' newly-minted two-year contract is worth $2.925 million and includes an $800,000 signing bonus.

Williams' deal includes base salaries of $925,000 this year and $1.2 million in 2013. His salary-cap figures are $1.325 million and $1.6 million for the next two years. He lined up with the first-team offense at left guard in his first practice since signing his contract.

"He jumped right in there at left," Harbaugh said. "He jumped right in there and looked good doing it. He's a veteran player, very physical guy. He has a great demeanor, great personality. So, it's good to have him in there." Williams started nine games last season for the Bengals following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy.

The former Arkansas lineman fractured his right ankle against the Houston Texans in December and was placed on injured reserve.

Other than the suspension and ankle injury, Williams hadn't missed a single game since joining the Bengals in 2004 after beginning his career in 2000 as a second-round draft pick with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It was exciting to have Bobby Williams here," Harbaugh said. "Welcome Bobby Williams. It was neat to see him out there for the first time in purple instead of orange." MCPHEE ON THE MEND: Heading into his second NFL season, defensive end Pernell McPhee has been sidelined for the past few organized team activities.

McPhee had a minor knee problem that required an arthroscopic procedure. He's been rehabilitating from the injury for weeks, which he doesn't expect to affect his availability for training camp. The setback has cost him time on the field this spring. "It's kind of tough," McPhee said. "At the same time, I'll bounce back. It's minor, real minor. It is what it is."

McPhee emerged as the surprise of the Ravens' draft class last season, contributing six sacks as a situational pass rusher. A fifth-round draft pick from Mississippi State, McPhee played in every game for the NFL's third-ranked defense.

He led all the Ravens' rookies with 23 tackles, also knocking down two passes, forcing a fumble and recovering another. In his top performance last season, McPhee had two sacks against the Cleveland Browns in a December road victory.

"Just a guy with a high motor, never stops going," McPhee said. "Just trying to get to the ball basically."

SUGGS OFF CRUTCHES: Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is off crutches following his Monday doctor's appointment and was at the Ravens' training complex in a walking boot. Suggs underwent surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon suffered during the NFL draft. "No more crutches!" Suggs wrote on his Facebook account. "Beasting."

The next step for Suggs is beginning rehabilitation exercises. The NFL's third-ranked defense is expected to be without Suggs for at least the majority of the season.

Suggs has targeted November for his potential return.

"The doctor said he was doing very well," Harbaugh said. "He's progressing really well. I think he'll start to accelerate his rehab now since he saw Dr. [Robert] Anderson down in Charlotte. We'll take it from there." The Ravens are expected to start Paul Kruger at Suggs' rush outside linebacker position with rookie second-round pick Courtney Upshaw lining up at Jarret Johnson's vacated strongside linebacker spot.

Replacing Suggs' production of 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles will prove to be a difficult proposition, but Bisciotti is confident in returning young defensive players like All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and $50 million cornerback Lardarius Webb.

"Maybe it's Haloti's time this year," owner Steve Bisciotti said. "Terrell is the third player that [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and [assistant general manager] Eric [DeCosta] have drafted that have won Defensive Player of the Year, and we think we've got one in Haloti on the rise, and we may have another one in Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb." WRAGGE SIGNED: The Ravens signed veteran free agent center Tony Wragge and cut undrafted rookie defensive lineman Elliott Henigan. The Ravens also waived-injured outside linebacker Michael McAdoo. McAdoo recently had season-ending surgery on his torn Achilles tendon. If he clears waivers, he can revert to injured reserve. Under NFL procedural rules, the Ravens had to waive McAdoo before they can place him on injured reserve. Wragge started eight of 15 games played last season for the St. Louis Rams. Wragge, 32, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2002 with the Arizona Cardinals out of New Mexico State

. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder played for the San Francisco 49ers for the next six years, starting 14 games.

For his career, Wragge has played in 82 games with 23 starts.

He was cut by 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, Harbaugh's younger brother, after training camp. "I kind of know a lot about him talking to Jim," Harbaugh said. "Really just a real tough, hard-nosed guy, our kind of a guy. He'll be in the mix to make our team and provide us with a little more veteran depth. I do feel like we've solidified the offensive line, depth-wise It will be fun to watch those guys compete."

QUICK HITS: Rookie third-round running back Bernard Pierce left practice with an undisclosed lower-body injury and didn't return. ... Rookie offensive guard Kelechi Osemele (quadriceps) was sidelined at practice for the third week in a row. ... Also not practicing due to injuries: wide receiver David Reed (knee), offensive lineman Howard Barbieri, wide receiver Tandon Doss and McPhee ... Cornerback Cary Williams (hip) was limited. ... Rookie fifth-round cornerback Asa Jackson returned to practice after missing all of the organized team activities. He was absent previously due to an NFL-NCAA rule that prevents first-year players from practicing at more than one minicamp until school is no longer in session.

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