WESTMINSTER — It was an unusual sight at the Baltimore Ravens’ training camp Sunday afternoon given the presence of five quarterbacks on the roster, including newcomer Cleo Lemon and an apparently rapidly recovering John Beck.
It practically hearkened back to the way former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden used to stockpile quarterbacks.
Only in this case, the Ravens’ bevy of extra signal callers, including undrafted rookie Drew Willy, has been brought about by an injury to Beck’s throwing shoulder suffered when he was drilled to the ground during a 23-0 preseason victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.
Beck practiced on an extremely limited basis with no visible discomfort Sunday. Just in case he’s out for an extended period due to sprained muscles and ligaments after a magnetic resonance imaging exam didn’t reveal any tears or broken bones, Lemon was signed to a one-year contract for the veteran minimum.
And with Lemon’s familiarity with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system stemming from prior stints with the Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers, he seemed like a logical solution to what may amount to a short-term problem for the Ravens’ depth under center.
"Well, we wanted to see how good he is and if he can help us," Harbaugh said of Lemon. "With John Beck hurting his shoulder and going to be out for a little while, we need another arm in here anyway and we had the roster spots.
"Cleo is a guy who has had some success. He’s been in the system with Cam and he can call the plays. Like you saw, he didn’t really miss a beat."
It’s unclear exactly what kind of recovery period Beck is facing, but he confirmed that he hasn’t broken any bones or torn any ligaments in his shoulder. And Beck added that he’s not going to be placed on injured reserve.
"I don’t think it’s going to be very long," Harbaugh said of the timetable for Beck. "I’m not sure how many days, but it shouldn’t be too long."
Beck acknowledged experiencing some soreness and stiffness, but declined to specify the exact nature of his injury.
He made no predictions on whether he’ll be able to play in the Ravens’ second preseason game against the New York Jets on Aug. 24 at M&T Bank Stadium.
"Just trying to give it time to heal and be smart with it," said Beck, who was able to do some very light throwing. "I just do everything I can to get back as soon as I can."
Meanwhile, Lemon celebrated his 30th birthday Sunday by signing a contract with the Ravens.
And he appeared confident and decisive while calling plays and delivering throws.
“I’m comfortable working with coach Cam, from the San Diego days and the Miami days," Lemon said. "I have experience in his system, and hopefully, I can come out here and get the job done.
"Some of the stuff is pretty familiar. But there are a lot of new things that I’m trying to catch up with because I’m here for the first time, so I have a lot of studying to do."
Two years ago, Lemon engineered the Miami Dolphins’ lone win during a 1-15 season. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against the Ravens, connecting with wide receiver Greg Camarillo.
Now, he’s reunited with Cameron and back with the Ravens after going through camp with them seven years ago as an undrafted free agent.
It’s unclear, though, exactly what the plan is for Lemon because the Ravens are unlikely to carry four quarterbacks on the regular-season roster. At some point, either Lemon or Beck will probably exit the equation.
"I’m here to be another quarterback, to add to the depth to the position," Lemon said. "Whenever my name is called, I’ll be ready to play. I’ve been training down in Florida pr etty much every day. I was real prepared to have a good showing and be able to step right into training camp."
Lemon thought he would be signed by the New England Patriots two weeks ago after a tryout and passing a physical, but they opted for former Oakland Raiders quarterback Andrew Walter instead.
For Lemon, who has passed for 2,185 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 72.1 quarterback rating in five NFL seasons, rejoining the Ravens sparks old memories.
In a Friday night scrimmage at Bair Stadium in August of 2002, Lemon once hooked up with Randy Hymes for a long touchdown pass.
"Oh yeah, definitely, that was a good time," Lemon said. "That was my first training camp. Everything’s pretty much the same out here with a good quality team. To see a guy like Ray Lewis out here still getting it done, that’s incredible."
While Lemon’s outlook remains undefined, Willy is just hoping to catch the coaches’ eye and stick with the team for as long as possible.
Cut by the Ravens on June 18 after a rookie minicamp and re-signed Friday, Willy isn’t sure what’s next for him. Until someone tells him something to the contrary, he’ll keep showing up to compete.
"The coaches just told me to keep working," Willy said. "They haven’t said much to me, honestly. When I get my opportunity, I need to make the most of it."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.