Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: News & Notes

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OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens are taking a cautious approach with offensive tackle Jared Gaither, who remains sidelined with a bruised foot.

Gaither had a cortisone shot in his foot recently, and Harbaugh indicated that the team is going to allow him time "to let it settle down and let it heal."

Ever since being moved to right offensive tackle and replaced by Michael Oher on the left side, Gaither has been out with the foot problem.

Gaither has visited a foot specialist, Dr. Robert Anderson, the same doctor who treated former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden’s turf toe.

The Ravens are also having orthotics inserted in Gaither’s cleats to ease the pressure on the feet of the 6-foot-9, 340-pounder.

With Gaither out and Oniel Cousins absent due to strep throat today, offensive guard Marshal Yanda played right tackle with Chris Chester moving into Yanda’s right guard spot.

"We’ll probably take our time," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I think he’s anxious to get back and practice. He should be back there practicing pretty soon."

Yanda said he’s relearning his old footwork at tackle.

"I’m working every day to improve, it’s nice to get some reps out there," Yanda said. "I might have to play out there some this fall. I’ll probably be at guard, but you never know. It’s a mindset thing. If I have to play tackle, I’m ready."

CLAYTON RETURNS: Wide receiver Mark Clayton practiced without restrictions after undergoing an arthroscopic surgical procedure on his right shoulder last month, running routes and catching passes in individual and team drills.

"It felt great," Clayton said. "I was able to fly around. I had my range of motion. I was able to catch balls."

Clayton said he’s not quite 100 percent and will know more about the shoulder once he’s grappling with cornerbacks to test the strength of his shoulder.

Clayton is competing for playing time behind starters Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason.

"We’re still trying to see where I’ll fit," Clayton said. "I’m just working hard. Anytime you get an opportunity to make a play, make a play and keep moving. It’s exciting."

SMITH RETURNS: Other than being sacked by massive nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody and having one of his passes rejected by the rookie defensive lineman, it was a good day for backup quarterback Troy Smith.

The former Heisman Trophy winner is feeling much better after having his tonsils removed, returning to practice this week after being sidelined a week ago after the procedure.

"Oh my god, it’s tremendous," Smith said. "It’s like night and day. That was huge."

Smith was sidelined for five games during the 2008 season because of tonsillitis, an illness that cost him his chance to possibly claim the starting job.

He has had recurrences of the tonsillitis since that year, recently dealing with a case of strep throat that prompted him to have his tonsils taken out.

"I just decided that this was enough," Smith said. "It was tough, but well worth it. Everything is getting back in order. It’s still trying times when I bark out signals and use my voice, but we have practice. You show up, you got to work. I’m feeling great."

NAKAMURA AHEAD OF SCHEDULE: Backup safety Haruki Nakamura has made an impressive comeback from surgery to repair a gruesome broken fibula suffered last season against the Cleveland Browns.

He participated in full-team drills on an extended basis for the first time this week.

"It’s a good feeling to be back out there," Nakamura said. "I started out last week with a couple of plays. The coaches felt I was doing well enough and I felt physically well enough to take more steps. It’s a great improvement.

"I’ve been really focused on getting back and getting healthy. This is just one of those steps you have to take to get better."

Nakamura is surprised to be back at practice this soon.

"With an injury like that, you never know if you can come back," he said. "I really focused on doing the things that got me here throughout my career and it really helped me out a lot."

Only last week, Nakamura was favoring his injured right leg noticeably and couldn’t cut. He’s still not quite 100 percent.

"I can run a lot better now, less of a gimp," Nakamura said. "When I first started out, I couldn’t jog without limping. Now, I can get a full-speed burst and get back out there. I can make all my cuts on it now.

"At first, I was really overcompensating for it and depending on my left leg. I can do all my speed turns, can do cuts. I have a lot of confidence in it now."

And his personal erector set is still in his ankle from his surgery and may remain there until next year, if not longer.

Nakamura still has a metal plate and eight screws in his ankle.

"I’m debating whether I’ll take it out next year," he said.

So far, he hasn’t set off any metal detectors at airport security.

"I’ve flown a couple of times already," Nakamura said. "I haven’t had an issue."

HARBAUGH WANTS A BALTIMORE SUPER BOWL: With New York awarded the 2014 Super Bowl despite resistance from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti due to concerns about wintry weather, Harbaugh made his case for Baltimore to get a Super Bowl.

"You put one in New York, then come on down here to Baltimore and we’ll have a Super Bowl, too. That’s what I’d be for," Harbaugh said. "Baltimore built a stadium, put a lot of money into a brand new stadium. So, you start bringing it up here, I think we want one. But the main thing we’re concerned with is getting into the Super Bowl. We try to take care of that first as a football team."

QUICK HITS: Besides Cousins and Gaither, several other players didn’t practice due to injuries. That includes cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (knee surgery) and Fabian Washington (knee surgery), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (pectoral surgery), nose guards Kelly Gregg (shoulder surgery) and Brandon McKinney (back surgery), safety Ed Reed (hip surgery), offensive tackle Ramon Harewood (sprained knee) and wide receiver Maurice Price (ankle). Tight end Todd Heap was limited in drills as well as linebacker Jarret Johnson, who’s recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. … Several veterans didn’t attend the voluntary practice, including: Boldin, middle linebacker Ray Lewis, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive ends Trevor Pryce and Cory Redding and running back Willis McGahee. …Wide receiver Demetrius Williams left practice after landing on his face, but Harbaugh said it was just a precautionary measure. … Cody was especially active one week after missing practice with inflamed hip tissue. "It’s still giving me problems," Cody said. "It’s still sore." Despite the pain, Cody dominated inside. "I hit my gap, I knew I had to get there fast," Cody said. "I bull-rushed and collapsed the pocket and threw my hands up. Troy didn’t pump-fake. I touched him and sacked him. I didn’t try to knock him down." … Running back Ray Rice practiced after having his wisdom teeth removed Friday. The swelling has gone down. "It’s not too bad," he said. "My jaw was a little sore, but now it’s pretty good. I was out there running around." … Rice said he’s playing at 210 pounds this season. He was feeling spry enough to dunk the football over the goalpost after a touchdown. "It’s all about having fun," he said. "You’ve got to get some spunk in practice." … Rice ran over to undrafted rookie cornerback Prince Miller after he got juked badly by Mason. "I asked him if he was all right," Rice said. "It looked like Michael Jordan taking a guy to school, basic fundamentals. We knew what Mason was doing. It looked like the little, young boy had a little problem. I asked him if he was OK. I didn’t want him to get offended by it. That’s Derrick Mason." … The Ravens are set to unveil their new high-definition video screens at M&T Bank Stadium during a press conference Thursday. The screens cost over $7 million and will be used this weekend at the NCAA lacrosse championships.


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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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