TRAINING CAMP NOTES: Cundiff falls behind Tucker

Cundiff_falls_behind

OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta underwent surgery Tuesday to repair his right hand after a magnetic resonance imaging exam confirmed a broken bone.

Pitta is slated to be out for the next four to six weeks, a timetable that should allow him to return in time for the Ravens’ Sept. 10 season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Just kind of what we thought, as it turns out," coach John Harbaugh said. "We’ll be shooting for the first regular-season game. If it’s sooner than that, that would be a bonus. That’s what we’re shooting for."

Pitta registered a career-high 40 receptions for 405 yards and three touchdowns last season, developing into one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s most reliable options.

The Ravens are in no pressure to make a roster move considering they have starter Ed Dickson available along with former fifth-round pick Davon Drew to back him up.

The defending AFC North champions also have undrafted rookie free agents Bruce Figgins and Matt Balasavage on the training camp roster.

Pitta, who caught five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown in an AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, should be able to resume running soon to remain in shape.

PIERCE INJURES HAMSTRING: Rookie running back Bernard Pierce missed his second day of practice in a row with a hamstring injury, a recurring problem first sustained during a rainy minicamp practice.

The third-round draft pick’s girlfriend is also due to give birth to their first child.

"I really don’t have a comment on that right now," Harbaugh said. "He had a little hamstring, but I don’t know. I’m not sure about the baby."

TIME OFF FOR BIRK: Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk was given a day off for the second consecutive day, a decision tied to his age.

Birk is 36 years old and has battled knee, neck and ankle problems over the past few years.

"Matt is at the stage of his career where probably he’s going to practice less than he’s not going to practice," Harbaugh said. "I think that would be the best thing for Matt, getting him ready to go."

NO NEWS ON MCKINNIE: Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie remains on the non-football injury list with a back injury.

"Same as it was," Harbaugh said. "No update on Bryant."

INJURY UPDATES: Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood (ankle) returned to practice as well as wide receivers Tommy Streeter and Devin Goda.

Wide receiver LaQuan Williams left the practice field, but it’s not regarded as serious.

The following players didn’t practice: defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (hamstring), defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee surgery), wide receiver David Reed (knee surgery), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), wide receiver Tandon Doss (hamstring), offensive lineman Jah Reid (strained right calf), outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (bruised right shoulder), nose guard Ma’ake Kemoeatu (leg) and linebacker Josh Bynes (undisclosed).

Upshaw is attempting to get healthy and drop some weight to get down to 270 pounds. The second-round draft pick from Alabama reported at roughly 280 pounds, heavy for an outside linebacker.

"The thing with Courtney is you always look for a dominant trait in our players," linebackers coach Ted Monachino said. "The renaissance football player, there aren’t many left of them anymore. Courtney certainly has dominant traits as an edge-setter. He’s big, he’s physical. He’s an extremely smart football player. He understands angles and leverages, and he understands his job."

Upshaw recorded 9 1/2 sacks last season for the Crimson Tide. He’s projected to start at Jarret Johnson’s old outside linebacker spot.

"The more experience he has, the better he’s going to get," Monachino said. "You can already see him doing things that it’s hard to predict a young player can do those things, especially in the run game. He’s ramped up. It’s an unfortunate setback. This is really an opportunity for him to focus mentally and really maybe work on the fitness part of it and work on his diet a little bit more, but he’s going in the right direction and I think we are going to have a lot to be proud of with that pick."

FEISTY: Rookie center Gino Gradkowski mixed it up with massive nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody, grabbing Cody’s facemask.

They were eventually separated. Gradkowski also had an altercation with inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.

Harbaugh likes Gradkowski’s nasty disposition on the field.

There was also an exchange between offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele and linebacker Jameel McClain.

"He’s very smart, he’s very tough," Harbaugh said of Gradkowski, a Pittsburgh native drafted in the fourth round out of Delaware. "He’s very competitive, kind of a tough, mean, nasty type of guy. We like his style."

CUNDIFF MISSES THREE: Former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff connected on only 4 of 7 field goal tries.

Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Justin Tucker made 5 of 6 kicks. He made a 60-yarder with room to spare.

Tucker’s worst kick was a miss from beyond 50 yards where he mishit the football and it sailed several yards wide from the right upright.

"We put them in a lot of game-like situations where they had to run out, make a kick at the end of the game, during a game, those kinds of things," Harbaugh said. "They did a good job of that. We try to do that as much as we can as opposed to just go out and kick five field goals in a row because you don’t do that in a game. A lot of our practices are built that way for the kickers."

RENEGADE: It sounded like Heinz Field at the Ravens’ training complex as the Styx song, "Renegade" blared from the sideline speakers.

The song is used by the Pittsburgh Steelers to fire up their players and fans.

"It’s a great song," Harbaugh said with a smirk. "We love that song. It’s one of our favorite songs."

Harbaugh said he’s involved in picking the playlist.

"Everybody is welcome to make their contributions, we do vet all suggestions," he said.

Harbaugh said he grew tired of simply having white noise in the background, so they added the music.

Harbaugh is not a fan of popular rapper Rick Ross, though, mostly because of the profanities in his songs. Ross’ music was played on Saturday at practice, much to the players’ enjoyment.

"That one has been scratched from the list," Harbaugh said. "Did you notice? We haven’t heard that one since. And I like some rap music. There are a few of them I like, but that’s not one of them. Keep it clean."

RAINEY IMPRESSES: Diminutive undrafted rookie running back Bobby Rainey dashed away from the defense for a touchdown run.

Ultra-productive at Western Kentucky with 4,542 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns, the 5-foot-8, 205-pounder is fighting long odds to make the active roster. He could forge a spot on the practice squad if he continues to elude defenders this way.

"Bobby has opened eyes," Harbaugh said. "Bobby Rainey is a really good player. It just holds true year in and year out, the guys who are the most productive in college, often and most times, are the most productive guys in the NFL. And here is a guy that people wanted to say didn’t have this or that, but he did have about 4,000-plus yards in college. He is putting yards up out here."

QUICK HITS: Rookie cornerback Asa Jackson had two interceptions with strong safety Bernard Pollard and middle linebacker Ray Lewis picking off one pass apiece. Cornerback Chykie Brown intercepted a pass and tight-roped the sideline for a touchdown return. "Asa had a good day, made plays," Harbaugh said. "A real heady player, real smart." … Rookie wide receiver Deonte Thompson had a rough day, dropping passes with one potential touchdown glancing off his hands. … Former Maryland and New York Jets nose guard Kris Jenkins and Terrapins coach Randy Edsall were guests at practice. … Former Washington Redskins cornerback Tom Carter, an NFL Players Association official, attended practice as an observer. That’s a routine visit for the players’ union. … Defensive tackle Arthur Jones slammed Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice to the ground, angering the $40 million runner.

 

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About Aaron Wilson

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...more

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