OWINGS MILLS — Since John Beck has recovered so quickly from his shoulder injury, there was ultimately no place on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster for quarterback Cleo Lemon.
The Ravens terminated Lemon’s contract Tuesday to get down to the league-mandated roster limit of 75 players, a transaction that leaves Joe Flacco, Troy Smith and Beck as the three quarterbacks on the roster.
Lemon was with the team for two weeks after being signed as a precautionary measure after Beck sprained his shoulder against the Washington Redskins. His connection to the team was through Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, having played for him with the Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers.
"It was a situation with John Beck’s injury, where Cleo Lemon is obviously a proven quarterback in this league to some extent," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s played a lot. He’s got experience. We felt like if the thing with John didn’t work out, he would’ve been a great go-to guy for us. Cam has a lot of respect for him.
"I’m just disappointed we didn’t have more of a chance to really look at him and get to know him because he’s a great guy, and he worked really hard. He’ll be on a team very soon, in this league. There’s no question about it. Our thought, in some ways, was to give him a chance to do that. If we thought there would be an advantage to holding onto him we would’ve. At the same token, there are some teams that need a quarterback and he can most certainly help a team right now.”
Lemon, who has passed for 1,773 career yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions, was cut by the Ravens in 2002 before the regular season after spending training camp with the team.
The Ravens have until Sept. 5 to get down to 53 players.
INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Mark Clayton declared that he’s not going to play in the final preseason game Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
Although Clayton expressed confidence that he’ll be ready to play in the season opener Sept. 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Falcons game was regarded as too soon for him to risk it.
"I’m going to be careful with it," Clayton said. "It does feel really good when I’m working out against the guys and I’ve been able to go full-speed. It’s smarter to improve the endurance instead of taking a chance and having a setback."
Free safety Ed Reed didn’t practice during the portion of practice open to reporters, walking onto the field in a sweatshirt without a helmet.
Reed has been hampered by a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder for the past year.
Offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (sprained ankle) didn’t practice along with tight ends L.J. Smith (hamstring pull) and Isaac Smolko (undisclosed). Smolko may have been sick as there’s a flu bug going around the locker room.
Returning to practice: cornerback Chris Carr (quadriceps), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (trapezius) and running backs Cedric Peerman and Matt Lawrence.
"I’ll be fine," said Carr, predicting he’ll play Thursday. "I’m probable."
Undrafted rookie linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (sprained medial collateral ligament) is hoping to play against the Falcons, but has missed a lot of time.
When asked if Ellerbe had fallen too far behind, Harbaugh replied: "I don’t know. We’ll have to find out. If we knew that already, we’d have our roster picked and we don’t, but it didn’t help him not playing. It’s hard. You know, they say, ‘You can’t make the club in the tub.’ It’s pretty hard to make the club without being out there, showing what you can."
PECKING ORDER: The Ravens started veteran Kelley Washington ahead of Demetrius Williams against the Carolina Panthers, a somewhat surprising development.
And Washington took advantage of the opportunity, catching three passes for 66 yards.
"I’ve been working with the first team, mixing in," Washington said. "The coaches are evaluating us. I just know that jobs are on the line and opportunities are out there to create a spot for yourself. You just go out there and earn a spot on the team. That’s what I’ve been doing since I arrived."
Washington caught a 42-yard bomb behind Panthers starting cornerback Chris Gamble.
"It felt good to get a long ball from Joe," Washington said. "It was a good confidence-builder to complete a big play on a nine route. It’s something to build on."
Meanwhile, Williams caught four passes for 43 yards in a reserve role.
When asked about not starting with Clayton sidelined, Williams replied: "I’m not sure. I just think that was a situation of what they wanted to do. They made a decision to go with Kelley."
Williams, who dealt with a sore right hamstring last month, said that he’s 100 percent healthy.
He’s not entirely pleased with how he’s performed.
"I can do better," he said. "That’s pretty much all I can say about that."
BOUNCING BACK: Ravens cornerback Frank Walker recovered from his shaky performance against the New York Jets, but his blocked extra point was nullified in Carolina when he was flagged for a questionable offsides penalty.
"We didn’t think he was, but the league can go back and forth to see whether they thought he was or wasn’t," Harbaugh said. "When you’ve got an indicator on a snap, and he read it perfectly, the problem is the other 10 guys didn’t. Frank was on time and the other 10 guys weren’t, so it made Frank look like he was out of place.
"Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job with everybody believing in that indicator when you get it. Frank has done a great job of blocking field goals and pressuring field goals since he’s been here. He’s a big weapon in that way.”
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh didn’t indicate how long he’ll play the starters in Atlanta, but it’s not expected to be long. "There have been a lot of thoughts about a lot of things," Harbaugh said. "And some have been expressed, and some of them haven’t. And some won’t be in this press conference, either.” … Following Chiefs coach Todd Haley assuming offensive coordinator duties after removing Chan Gailey, the Ravens will have to refer to Haley’s schemes from his Arizona Cardinals days. "We’ve been trying to figure that little problem out ever since we saw that we had the Chiefs in the opener," Harbaugh said. "And it’s not like they’ve put a lot of information out there to give us an idea of what they’re going to do, which is smart on their part. And that’s definitely an advantage that they’ll have going into that game. Scheme-wise, we really can’t predict what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it. Will they look like the Cardinals? Well, they don’t have Cardinals personnel, so it’s a little different. Will they look like what they’ve been working on during training camp? We’ll just have to see and have to be ready for everything. So, having the extra time helps us along those lines.” … Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has given rookie outside linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger a nickname: "Goldilocks." Last year, Suggs repeatedly called quarterback Joe Flacco, "Shane Falco." "I like Paul, he’s good," Suggs said. "Just as I heckled Joe, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t give the rookie some grief. I like him and he’s going to come along, but I’m going to have my fun with him first."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.