NOTEBOOK: You’ve Got to be Blessed

Street Talk NOTEBOOK: You’ve Got to be Blessed

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BALTIMORE — Jared Gaither wasn’t shy about introducing himself to Washington Redskins veteran defensive end Andre Carter.
Instead of offering a friendly handshake, though, the Baltimore Ravens’ massive rookie offensive tackle announced his presence by roughly throttling Carter and depositing him on the ground Saturday during a scrimmage at M&T Bank Stadium.
Whether it was how the 6-foot-9, 350-pounder manhandled Carter during blocking drills or walled off defenders from getting near quarterback Steve McNair, Gaither’s play belied his age.
“To be that size and have that much athleticism and that much quickness, you’ve got to be blessed,” McNair said. “You don’t find those guys too often.”
Six days after his first NFL practice, the 21-year-old started at left tackle in place of injured All-Pro lineman Jonathan Ogden and blocked Carter, who has 38 career sacks.
Afterward, Gaither didn’t seem to be in awe of his quick advancement from an ineligible former University of Maryland standout into an emerging NFL rookie.
“I think I did pretty good, plenty more improvement to go,” Gaither said. “I’m just working hard, taking it in stride doing the best I can.
“I didn’t have jitters, I was just anxious and ready to get it going. I think I did a good job.”
The Greenbelt native grew up in Prince George’s County, idolizing the Redskins during Hall of Fame coach Gibbs’ first stint in Washington.
“It was a little weird, but that’s business,” said Gaither, whose parents were in the stands. “It was a great day. It’s nice to put a licking on somebody else besides our guys.”
ROOKIE WATCH: Gaither wasn’t the only rookie lineman who performed well.
Third-round draft pick Marshal Yanda made a strong debut at right tackle.
“I think you’ve got to give credit to the offensive line coach [Chris Foerster],” McNair said. “He’s done a great job of bringing these young guys in here and teaching them the ropes and the scheme. It’s pure detail.
“I think they protected well. In the running game, those guys opened up a few holes.”
Meanwhile, rookie Troy Smith completed 2 of 4 passes for 22 yards as his competition for the third-string quarterback job, Drew Olson, misfired on a pair of throws.
“There were a lot of passes that were incomplete,” said Smith, a fifth-round pick who won the Heisman Trophy last season at Ohio State. “It’s a situation where there really wasn’t a miscue. It was just not a good enough ball by me.
“It won’t be that way next time. I didn’t have a problem with anything that was called. We just got to perfect it.”
Rookie linebacker Prescott Burgess was on the move, lining up at several positions.
The sixth-round pick from Michigan was credited with a team-high four tackles.
“He can do it all,” Pro Bowl linebacker Bart Scott said. “I give him props.”
PROGRESSION: Watching the scrimage from the bench was an unusual experience for Scott, a former undrafted free agent unaccustomed to the luxury of sitting out.
“It kind of gave me chills,” Scott said. “I used to be the guy who got all the snaps. I felt for some of those guys, but whatever doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.”
INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens didn’t report any new injuries, although wide receiver Clarence Moore was held out with a strained hamstring. He said it wasn’t serious and expected to practice as soon as Monday.
Also not playing for Baltimore: nose guard Kelly Gregg (thigh bruise), linebacker Antwan Barnes (sprained ankle), offensive guard Ben Grubbs (sprained knee), Ogden (turf toe), tackle Mike Kracalik (ankle), linebackers Dan Cody (knee surgery) and Mike Smith (shoulder surgery) and Justin Green (knee surgery).
QUICK HITS: McNair offered a tribute to former Tennessee Titans teammate Bruce Matthews, the versatile blocker being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend.

“Anytime you play five positions on the offensive line and go to the Pro Bowl at each of them, you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame,” McNair said. “He was a guy that liked to have fun, but when it was time for business, he got down to business." … Wide receiver Devard Darling continued a running feud with Redskins safety Sean Taylor, getting into a shoving match with him and ripping off his helmet. ... Tight end Quinn Sypniewski caught a touchdown during passing drills. … Jason Campbell hit James Thrash in stride for a long touchdown pass prior to the scrimmage. …. …McNair was intercepted by Fred Smoot during 7-on-7 work. … Safety Dawan Landry was the lone defensive starter that played in the scrimmage. … Undrafted free agent defensive end Edgar Jones notched a sack, also hustling in pursuit to chase down a runner in the open field. … Rookie middle linebacker Joe Martin had a sack. ... Rookie Jordan Palmer, the younger brother of Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, hit Burl Toler on a 24-yard touchdown pass for the Redskins’ only score.  â€¦ Former Ravens offensive tackle Orlando “Zeus” Brown was on the sidelines. … The Ravens have today off and resume practice at McDaniel College on Monday morning. The workout is closed to the general public.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital. 

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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