RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Cousins returns to practice field

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Cousins returns to practice field

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WESTMINSTER — Still recovering from offseason throat surgery, Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Oniel Cousins was activated from the non-football illness list Thursday and practiced for the first time since the spring.

Cousins had a noncancerous cyst removed from his esophagus earlier this offseason with an incision made on the right side of his chest during the procedure.

“Definitely, I’m excited," Cousins said "I’m just working my way back in and trying to do my best every day. It’s coming around. My throat is feeling good.

“I was in the hospital for about three or four days, but it went great. I have a little ding up in there, but I just try to work it out and get back into the groove of football.”

The Ravens are being cautious with Cousins’ workload, having him work with the second-team offense on a limited basis on his first day back.

“It’s good to see him back,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ll ease him in. So, we’ll see if we can build him up a little each practice so he can do a little more.”

Cousins said he feels blessed that the cyst wasn’t a byproduct of cancer.

“I give all the grace and glory to God,” Cousins said. “I’m just glad it was just a cyst. They told me it was 90 percent that it was a cyst, but they didn’t know until they took it out. There’s that 10 percent they can’t know until they take it out.

“The procedure went great and everything was good. I lost weight, but I gained all my weight back. That’s a good thing. I’m able to lift weights now and work out. I’m doing way better now.”

RAVENS SIGN UP CHRIS HAWKINS: The Ravens agreed to terms with undrafted free agent rookie cornerback Chris Hawkins following a successful tryout that included three other defensive backs.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” said Hawkins’ agent, Darin Morgan.“Hopefully, Chris can take advantage of the opportunity. He certainly has good size and good measurables. The Ravens like cornerbacks with some size, and he fits the bill for what they like.”

Hawkins is a 6-foot, 187-pound undrafted rookie free agent who was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars following the draft.

However, Jacksonville cut him in July.

The Ravens lost cornerback Domonique Foxworth for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. They traded quarterback John Beck to the Washington Redskins this week for cornerback Doug Dutch.

Hawkins was invited to the NFL scouting combine in February.

He recorded 119 career tackles, 19 pass deflections and five interceptions for the Tigers.

MOUNT HARBAUGH EXPLODES: John Harbaugh had seen enough.

After two first downs in a row from undrafted rookie running back Curtis Steele, Harbaugh lit into the first-team defense.

“This is our first-team defense!” Harbaugh said loudly enough for fans in the stands to overhear. “You’ve got to be [expletive] me! The first defense is getting their [butts] kicked! That is our second team offensive line!”

Harbaugh took interior defensive linemen Terrence “Mount” Cody and Brandon McKinney aside for a talk.

Harbaugh appeared to be angry when asked about the outburst.

“We don’t talk about what we talk about with our team in the huddle,” he said.

And he made the point that normally things like that are kept in-house.

“You don’t see a lot of things,” Harbaugh said. “That’s part of coaching a football team. We have a lot of guys working hard. We’re a tight-knit group. That’s the way it’s got to be. You don’t need to know everything.”

NAKAMURA MAKING PROGRESS: Reserve safety Haruki Nakamura trusts his leg again, the leg he fractured against the Cleveland Browns last season.

Nakamura had surgery to repair the damage and still has metal plates and screws in his lower leg.

“Yeah, I trust it now,” he said. “I get tired because it’s an injury. The muscle memory is coming back. I feel more of a bounce every day. I’m getting to the ball. Once I get into the groove, I feel like I can play and relax.”

Nakamura has regained his mobility and is making a lot of plays on the football so far at camp. He’s back up to 198 pounds after losing some weight during the offseason.

“I don’t need to get any bigger than that,” Nakamura said. “I’ve always had natural strength. I can hold my own at that weight.”

INJURY REPORT: Backup quarterback Marc Bulger left practice with a jammed finger, and Harbaugh indicated that it’s not serious.

“It’s nothing major,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not broken. He should be fine.”

Wide receiver Derrick Mason isn’t limping, but remains sidelined for the second day in a row after spraining his right ankle.

Offensive tackle Michael Oher had his right ankle re-taped during the morning session and was able to take part in both practices.

Offensive tackle Jared Gaither was fairly inactive for the entire day for unspecified reasons.

Offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers left practice and was favoring his right ankle, which has been bothering him throughout camp.

Not practicing: offensive tackle Tony Moll (concussion) and cornerback K.J. Gerard (hamstring).

Still on the physically unable to perform list: center Matt Birk (elbow), safety Ed Reed (hip), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps), cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and running back Matt Lawrence (knee).

FIGHT SONG: The Ravens are running a poll on their website asking fans if they would like the team’s marching band to use the old Colts fight song and add new lyrics to convert it to a Ravens fight song to play after touchdowns.

The response has been positive so far, and team officials say the fans will make the decision on whether to go forward with the song.

Team officials said they resisted doing this during the early years of the franchise as a nod of respect to the Colts’ faithful.

EHRLICH COUNTRY: Former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, who’s running for governor against incumbent Martin O’Malley, visited camp at McDaniel College.

“Gov. Ehrlich and his family are great people, and it was great to have them here,” Harbaugh said. “Roger Goodell yesterday and John Madden , that’s a thrill..”

QUICK HITS: Several 30-and-over players were given the day off , including Ray Lewis, Kelly Gregg and Travis Fisher. … The Ravens are holding practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. The free practice kicks off at noon. "I think it’s going to be a great opportunity on Saturday for fans that don’t normally see the Ravens up close to get a chance to do that," Harbaugh said. "I can remember talking about the first experience we ever had as kids when we went to a baseball or football game for the first time. You walk through that tunnel and see the greenest grass you ever saw in your life and those bright white uniforms. That’s a memory that you never forget, and we want to make sure every kid has a chance to experience that who wants to in Baltimore." … Free safety Tom Zbikowski returned a Joe Flacco interception for a long touchdown.


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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 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 Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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