Ravens notebook: Figurs in a hurry to get healthy, contribute

Street Talk Ravens notebook: Figurs in a hurry to get healthy, contribute

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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver and kick returner Yamon Figurs is arguably one of the fastest players in the league.

He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds at the NFL scouting combine entering the 2007 draft  and was selected in the third round by Baltimore.

Now, the former Florida prep track star is running a different kind of race.

Following Figurs’ shaky season last year, the Ravens acquired return man Chris Carr during free agency by signing him to a two-year, $5 million contract.

So, Figurs, who’s recovering from a broken foot that required surgery this offseason, needs to accelerate his recovery in order to earn a roster spot.

"Every year, you’ve got to fight for your spot," Figurs said. "Right now, I’m getting my foot right so I can get out there and battle with everybody."

After beginning training camp on the physically unable to perform list, Figurs is practicing again and caught a pair of touchdown passes Sunday from quarterback Troy Smith.

"This was the best that it’s felt," said Figurs, who caught a 43-yard touchdown pass for the first aerial score of his career last season against the Houston Texans. "I have the same confidence that I always had. It’s all about making some plays."

For his career, Figurs has averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return with one 94-yard return for a touchdown. He has averaged 7.9 yards per punt return, including a 75-yard return for a score.

Last season, though, Figurs drew criticism from NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders during the Ravens’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys with Sanders accusing the former Kansas State standout of "running scared."

Figurs wound up averaging 21.0 yards per kickoff return and six yards per punt return last year.

He’s determined to prove himself all over again, and remains hopeful that he’ll see action Thursday night in the Ravens’ preseason opener against the Washington Redskins.

"I’ve been working hard and doing everything I can," Figurs said. "Right now, I’m not even on the depth chart because of the foot. I’ve got to wait and see. It’s up to the doctors."

INJURY UPDATE: Offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers was carted off the field after getting his leg stepped on. Plus, he has been dealing with heel problems.

"He had three nice cleat marks on his calf there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I think he’s OK."

Offensive tackles Michael Oher (calf sprain) and Oniel Cousins (sprained ankle) both returned to practice.

And offensive guard Ben Grubbs increased his activity level as he works his way back from an ankle injury, practicing for the first time in a few days.

"I’m feeling better," Grubbs said. "I’m just working hard trying to get 100 percent healthy. Sometimes, your body won’t allow you do some of the things that you want to do, but that’s when you have to put your nose to the ground and work harder."

Free safety Ed Reed practiced for the first time without a red jersey, which signifies he’s off-limits to contact.
 
However, the Ravens were practicing in shorts and jerseys. So, it’s unclear if his nerve impingement in Reed’s neck and shoulder has improved.

"You’ll have to ask him," Harbaugh said. "I’m not sure. I didn’t have a conversation with him before practice."

The Ravens rested cornerback Domonique Foxworth at the end of practice due to him experiencing tightness in his leg in the sweltering heat.

“He was just starting to feel it grab a little bit, cramp a little bit, so we pulled him out," Harbaugh said.

Not practicing: linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles’ tendon, heel), cornerback Samari Rolle (neck), wide receivers Mark Clayton (left hamstring), Biren Ealy (groin) and Thomas White (hamstring) and defensive tackle Lamar Divens (hip flexor).

Special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo (sprained toe) was in uniform, but didn’t seem to do much.

Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden (sports hernia), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (trapezius) and tight end Edgar Jones (leg) practiced without incident.

The heat seemed to be a factor as wide receiver Derrick Mason had a cold, wet towel wrapped around his neck and poured several cups of water on his face.

"The good thing was we didn’t have a lot of humidity as far as the weather," Harbaugh said. "It was hot. We needed that. I guess we’re going to get a couple of days in a row here of heat, so that will be a plus for us. You know whatever comes, we like. Our guys handled it pretty well."

QUICK HITS: Quarterback Joe Flacco’s fumble was returned 50 yards for a touchdown by a blitzing Reed. Flacco was also intercepted by safeties K.J. Gerard and Dawan Landry. Flacco’s best throw was a 30-yard reception to Demetrius Williams. … Today’s practice is closed to the general public. … Undrafted rookie linebacker Dannell Ellerbe saw action with the first-team defense again. … Harbaugh denied that he was limping after several days of participating in kickoff coverage. "No, absolutely not," he said. "No, it’s a smooth stride, probably about a 4.43 running down there. You didn’t have a clock, did you? … The coaches from the Naval Academy 175-pound team attended practice and they covered a few kickoffs at the end of practice. "Those guys are 175 pounds or less, right? So they play pretty aggressive, fast football, and they were here studying football, so that was good," Harbaugh said. "Then, we had them earn their meals. They had to run down on the kickoff team, just to honor really what they’re doing. We appreciate having them here." … Harbaugh said that it meant a lot to him to attend the memorial service for the late Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, his old friend and mentor. "It was really neat," he said. "It’s just amazing how that whole thing works. Every moment of the whole afternoon was hugging somebody that cared about Jim as much as we did.”

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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