Ravens Notebook: L.J. Smith injures leg

Street Talk Ravens Notebook: L.J. Smith injures leg

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WESTMINSTER — Baltimore Ravens veteran tight end L.J. Smith was held out of practice Wednesday after suffering a minor hamstring injury during the first practice of camp.

Smith, who is recuperating from a follow-up procedure related to his sports hernia surgery from two years ago, didn’t seem unduly concerned with the setback.

"It’s not a serious injury," Smith said. "I barely strained it a little bit, but I definitely didn’t pull it. It should be fine."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh indicated that Smith should be back as soon as Friday for the team’s first full-team practice.

"He tweaked his hamstring a little bit," Harbaugh said. "It was not a pull or a strain. There’s not much fluid in there. So, we decided to sit him down and ease him back in, try to get him back for Friday."

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Lamar Divens was removed from the physically unable to perform list. Divens had been dealing with a pair of hip flexor injuries, but has passed his physical now.


"I’m about 95 percent," Divens said. "I came out and ran after practice to get some extra work in and it feels all right now."

Rookie tight end Davon Drew, a fifth-round draft pick from East Carolina, was activated from the non-football injury list after failing the conditioning test Tuesday.

Running back Willis McGahee, who’s on the PUP list after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason, ran 100-yard sprints on the side while the rest of the team practiced.

McGahee is expected to be able to practice as soon as Friday. However, he did have a wrap around his knee at the team hotel later in the day.

Rookie linebacker Jason Phillips, who tore his lateral meniscus at the NFL scouting combine while running the 40-yard dash, remains on the PUP list. However, he is hoping to be back soon.

"They’re just holding me out right now to see if it swells up or bothers me," Phillips said. "They want to ease me back into it."

A four-time All-Mountain West Conference selection at Texas Christian, Phillips was unable to take part in any of the minicamps.

"I’ve never been hurt before or sat out like this," Phillips said. "I think I missed a total of five practices in college. The hardest thing for me is to be patient and let it heal. You’ve got to be careful with a knee injury."

ON A MISSION: Rookie defensive end-outside linebacker Paul Kruger is intent on proving himself to his teammates and has already displayed a relentless pass-rushing style.

Three years ago, he was on a different kind of mission.

Kruger served a two-year church mission in Kansas City, Mo., where he did everything from mow lawns, carry groceries and knock on strangers’ doors in hope of sharing his Mormon faith.

"You do really, anything you can to serve people," Kruger said. "You’re teaching them the gospel, you’re mowing their lawn and you’re helping them with groceries.  Everything you can think of, we were doing.  So, you’re talking to random people on the streets.  I am sure you guys have all seen those guys in white shirts and ties, a little goofy looking. 

"It’s really a special experience because you go out there, and you feel like you’re in your own little world because everybody views you differently.  So, it’s really a time to reflect and decide who you are, and who you want to be. Being in that environment, it was really cool to not only help other people but at the same time, learn a lot about myself and what life is all about.”


 

REMEMBERING JIM JOHNSON: The death of legendary Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson after a fight with skin cancer has taken away an innovative defensive presence from the NFL.

Johnson was a master at devising new, unconventional blitz packages. He was also a mentor and friend to Harbaugh during the Ravens coach’s tenure as the Eagles’ special-teams coach and secondary coach.

"Jim Johnson, I love him," Harbaugh said. "The best friend I have in my life is my dad, and my football dad in a lot of ways probably is Jim Johnson. Jim Johnson pioneered defense in this league. He changed the way defense is played. If there is a Hall of Fame assistant coach in the history of the NFL, it’s Jim Johnson.

"Defenses are different now than they were 15 years ago, 10 years ago, even five years ago. Jim changed every single year. You’re going to see a lot of Jim Johnson in the Ravens’ defense this year, as well. I just admire him greatly, love him tremendously and miss him.”

Harbaugh referenced a phrase that Johnson was fond of using during his long stint as a defensive guru.

"It’s funny because we were coaching some defense and special-team drills and we have a term in tackling called an arrow through snow," Harbaugh said. "You tackle like an arrow through snow. I probably hear Jim Johnson say that for 10 years, thousands of times to our players.

“And now our guys for the Baltimore Ravens, who have no idea who Jim Johnson is, are talking about a technique that Jim Johnson basically pioneered."

ON THE MOVE: Cornerback Derrick Martin is transitioning to safety.


 

And the former sixth-round draft pick intercepted a John Beck pass at his new position Tuesday.

Martin, who spent last season on injured reserve with a torn labrum that required surgery, had played cornerback exclusively since being drafted in the sixth round out of Wyoming three years ago. He hadn’t played safety since his freshman year.

"It’s all good," said Martin, who proclaimed that he’s healthy again. "I just want to play and help the team any way I can. This is a way for me to compete and do that."

WIDE RECEIVER UPDATE: The agent for four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn has remained in contact with team officials and is lobbying for the team to give Horn a tryout.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens worked out a pair of offensive linemen, including James Blair. However, they didn’t offer either player a contract.  … Offensive tackle Lou Saucedo was shifted to the reserve-injured list from the waived-injured designation. … Wide receiver Isaiah Williams (University of Maryland) cleared waivers after being cut. … The Ravens are conducting an administrative day for the coaches and players today, which is closed to the media and fans.

 
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 Ravens24x7.com. 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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