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The Baltimore Ravens’ star running back is so happy about his new surroundings that he has practically turned the other cheek after rookie linebacker Prescott Burgess smashed into him during a non-contact drill on his first carry of training camp.
Burgess made McGahee fumble Monday, drawing admonitions from teammates for being overly aggressive toward the Ravens’ $40 million acquisition.
"No, it didn’t annoy me," McGahee said Tuesday morning at McDaniel College. "It taught me a lesson, that’s all. I just have to be better prepared. He’s just doing his job, so you can’t fault him for that."
About the only issue McGahee has had to contend with since his arrival is a mild case of stage fright.
He’s under considerable pressure to rejuvenate a dormant running game that dipped to 25th in the NFL last year, which prompted the team to cut Jamal Lewis.
"To tell you the truth, when you go somewhere new, you’re always going to have jitters," McGahee said. "Yeah, there’s pressure. They know what I can do, but they want to see if I can do it with them. You always have to prove yourself when you’re out there."
So far, McGahee has drawn rave reviews since being acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Bills.
"He came here for one reason: to run the ball and make our offense better," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "I think he did that as soon as he got here."
Added Ravens coach Brian Billick: "You can see the things that we coveted in terms of his ability to get outside, cut it and come back in. And he’s bigger than you think and he’s more powerful inside than you think."
INJURY UPDATE: Nose guard Kelly Gregg left practice with an ice bag wrapped around his right knee, an injury he and Billick described as a thigh bruise.
"It’s just a bruise," Gregg said later at the team hotel with his entire leg encased in a black compression sleeve. "It’s doing good."
Meanwhile, Burgess missed practice with a case of stomach flu.
"I’m feeling better," said Burgess, although he still appeared to be fairly queasy.
Wide receiver Mark Clayton returned to practice after missing a workout due to an abscess on his finger incurred by biting his nails.
Not practicing: offensive tackles Jonathan Ogden (toe) and Mike Kracalik (ankle), linebackers Mike Smith (shoulder) and Dan Cody (knee) and fullback Justin Green (knee).
HEISMAN STRUGGLES: Rookie quarterback Troy Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, had a rough practice with two interceptions.
Nickel back Ronnie Prude took away one sideline pass and scampered upfield for a touchdown.
The rookie quarterback has flashed arm strength, but has made some bad decisions and hesitated to deliver the football. His timing is noticeably off.
"That’s the uncertainty of a quarterback really not quite sure of where everybody is," Billick said. "He’s throwing what he sees rather than what he anticipates.
"That’s very typical of a rookie quarterback, so he’s a little bit behind and the defense is jumping on it. That usually means youâ€™re a step late.â€
DISSATISFIED: Billick halted practice after a series of dropped passes and mental mistakes, including some assignment confusion during a field-goal drill. He gave the players an impromptu lecture on concentration.
"They were practicing very well," Billick said. "What I was frustrated with was they weren’t listening."
ROOKIE SHOW: Jared Gaither isn’t the only impressive rookie offensive tackle.
Third-round pick Marshal Yanda, who’s starting at left tackle, pushed around Pro Bowl linebacker Bart Scott during one sequence.
"We don’t have a lot of nasty guys over there on the offensive side, but he brings an attitude and a swagger,â€ Scott said. â€œI heard he was a pig farmer, and it doesn’t get any more gutter than that. You got farmer street cred.â€
BLITZ PACKAGE: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, all 6-foot-4, 340 pounds of him, lined up at middle linebacker for a blitz up the middle. He easily collapsed the pocket.
QUICK HITS: Defensive back Derrick Martin delivered a hard tackle to running back P.J. Daniels on a sweep. … Gaither knocked rookie linebacker Antwan Barnes to the ground during a pass-rush drill, but Barnes crawled on his hands and knees to tag the orange cone simulating the quarterback. … Working as the second-string center, starting right guard Chris Chester snapped the football to Kyle Boller on the wrong count. It made Boller’s hand sore, and it caused a fumble. … Practice seemed to be a bit tougher Tuesday. "Today was a man’s day," Scott said. … First-round offensive guard Ben Grubbs held up well during one-on-one drills.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.