OWINGS MILLS – One day after rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith expressed optimism that he might get back on the field soon, the Baltimore Ravens’ first-round draft pick returned to practice for the first time since the first week of the season.
Ever since suffering a high left ankle sprain while covering a kickoff during the Ravens’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to launch the season, Smith has been sidelined.
That might be about to change in the next week or two.
He practiced on a limited basis and appeared to have solid mobility.
The former All-American from Colorado was able to push a blocking sled backward. His lateral movement could stand for some improvement.
It’s unclear if the Ravens will hold Smith out for at least one more game as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, cornerback Chris Carr also returned to practice on a limited basis.
Carr has been dealing with a left hamstring injury ever since the preseason, limiting him to two games.
Carr hasn’t practiced since aggravating the injury during practice three weeks ago. He was able to catch punts and looks like he might be able to play this week.
“The fact that Chris Carr and Jimmy Smith are part of the equation as we go forward hopefully that should help us be better,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re going to have to be better.”
The Ravens ruled out linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstrings, groin) and rookie running back Anthony Allen (thigh).
Safety Tom Zbikowski participated on a limited basis, but is still not cleared for contact following a concussion incurred against the New York Jets. Zbikowski didn’t seem to do much at practice.
“I think he’s feeling better,” Harbaugh said. “He still had the sunglasses on out here, so he’s not cleared for contact yet. With concussions, they are unpredictable.”
Wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle), offensive guard Ben Grubbs (right turf toe) and linebacker Jarret Johnson (back) didn’t practice. Johnson has a history of back problems, but he’s not believed to be in danger of interrupting his 118 consecutive game streak.
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Eben Britton (back) and safety Courtney Greene (hamstring) didn’t practice.
Thirteen Jaguars were limited, including running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive end Aaron Kampman, cornerback Rashean Mathis and fullback Greg Jones for non-injury reasons.
Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee), offensive tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder), linebacker Clint Session (elbow), offensive guard Will Rackley (knee) and offensive guard Jason Spitz (quadriceps) were also limited.
Monroe missed the Jaguars’ last game.
“We’ve got him limited,” Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. “He got some work in, and we’ll just see how the week progresses.”
FEISTY FAMILY: In the wake of San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh’s confrontation with Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz after an animated postgame handshake, John Harbaugh is often asked about his brother.
During a conference call with Jacksonville reporters, Harbaugh joked about Jim Harbaugh working on improving his handshake techniques and he downplayed the incident considering there were no punches thrown.
If a fight had ensued, Harbaugh would put his money on his brother every time.
“Oh gosh yes, absolutely,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve been in enough of those fights to know how that goes.”
And Harbaugh said that kind of fire runs in the family, starting with his father and mother.
“He’s emotional, yeah he’s the same way,” Harbaugh said of Jack Harbaugh. “We come by it honestly, I can guarantee you that.
“It’s in the genes. Mom, she’s the worst one. She’s the craziest one of us. She’s Sicilian. Sicilian and Polish, that’s a volatile combination.”
FLACCO FALLING: The Ravens’ offensive line and Harbaugh readily acknowledges that they need to do a better job of protecting quarterback Joe Flacco.
Flacco was sacked twice against the Houston Texans, and hit seven more times.
However, Flacco defended his blockers.
“I’m still a young guy, and that’s part of playing quarterback, getting hit every now and then,” said Flacco, who has been sacked 10 times this year and hit 28 times. “Hey, if you’ve got to deal with it every now and then, that’s what you have to deal with. I think we played great. Our offensive line is battling. They’re in there fighting their butt off each week, and they’re really starting to come together.”
Flacco said he doesn’t focus on how often he’s getting struck by pass rushers.
He maintains his focus on trying to locate his targets downfield
“Hey, we’ve been doing it, if you’ve played quarterback in the NFL, you’ve been doing it for a long time now,” Flacco said. “You wouldn’t be here if you’re caught staring at the rush and not keeping your eyes downfield. You’re kind of just out there playing football.
“When you’re on the ground, you just find yourself getting up. You don’t exactly know how it happened, but it happened. As long as you got the ball off and all those things, you feel good about it.”
REED IS READY: Out since damaging his left shoulder in the second game of the season, kick returner and wide receiver David Reed said he’s made a complete recovery.
Reed returned to practice last week and was active for the Ravens’ game against the Texans, but they opted to hold him out while Bryan McCann returned kickoffs.
“I feel like it’s ready to go,” said Reed, who acknowledged he was disappointed to not get to play last week. “I was a little bit, but it’s all in the best interests of the team.”
Harbaugh declared there will be an open competition between Reed and McCann as well as evaluating rookie LaQuan Williams for the kickoff returner job.
“I’m always welcoming competition,” Reed said. “It makes me go even harder.”
IMPRESSED: The Ravens passed over several veteran options to back up Flacco, instead going with rookie Tyrod Taylor.
The former Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year convinced them during the preseason that they could afford to take a risk on a rookie sixth-round draft pick.
“We saw a guy in Tyrod that could be our backup quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “Just a broad spectrum of the things he does well, we felt like he was a natural. Really smart, really intelligent, picked it up quickly and a very accurate passer. Those are the kinds of things that were going to be a must for him to be a backup, and we saw those things.”