RAVENS NOTEBOOK:  Attendance high at recent OTAs

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Attendance high at recent OTAs

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OWINGS MILLS  ~  The majority of the team attended the voluntary workout, including quarterback Joe Flacco, fullback Vonta Leach, wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and cornerback Lardarius Webb.

Among those not attending: unsigned franchise running back Ray Rice, who’s not planning to go to practices or workouts until he gets a new contract, middle linebacker Ray Lewis, Reed, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who’s recuperating from Achilles tendon surgery, center Matt Birk and Cal-Poly rookie cornerback Asa Jackson.

Under NFL rules, Jackson isn’t allowed to attend workouts until graduation ceremonies commence at his school.

Wide receiver David Reed (anterior cruciate ligament) and cornerback Cary Williams (hip) were at practice, but didn’t participate as they recover from their respective surgeries.

"It’s really not a problem at all," Harbaugh said of not all the players being there. "You still run practice. It’s no different. The young guys are doing a great job. I’d love for every guy to be here, but it’s not realistic in today’s business environment.

"So, we’re just moving forward, but Ray is working hard. I don’t worry about Ray. Ray Rice is working hard. Both Rays are working hard. They’ll be ready to go.”

The Ravens aren’t on the verge of signing either Flacco or Rice to long-term deals.

The defending AFC North champions face a July 16 NFL deadline to negotiate with Rice. Otherwise, he’ll play this season under a $7.742 million franchise tag.

Flacco said he hasn’t been focusing on the Rice talks.

"Not too much," he said. "You hear a little bit here and there about it, but I don’t really pay too much attention to anything unless I am in the building here and somebody is telling me about it. The only thing I know is his contract is up, and we should probably pay him.”

LINEBACKER ALIGNMENT: For now, the Ravens are primarily having Paul Kruger lined up at Suggs’ rush outside linebacker spot.

Kruger had 5 1/2 sacks last season in a reserve role.

"That’s the spot where I feel like I fit the best," said Kruger, who also played some strongside linebacker. "It’s early to say what will happen, but this is what we’re doing now. I’m told where I’m going to line up and I do it.

"They feel more comfortable with me there, and that’s where I’ve been playing. I’m learning both. They can always switch us around."

Rookie second-round pick Courtney Upshaw is mostly playing at Jarret Johnson’s vacated outside linebacker position on the strongside.

"It’s coming easier to me," Upshaw said. "It’s been a great experience. I come in and be the student. I’m getting to the point where I’m kind of comfortable with it, but I still have to keep improving."

BIG YEAR: Outside linebacker Sergio Kindle has reached a crossroads after his career nearly ended before it even started.

Drafted in the second round two years ago, Kindle suffered permanent hearing damage in his left ear after fracturing his skull when he fell down two flights of stairs prior to his rookie season.

"Make or break year?" Kindle said.  "Perhaps, always. I feel like that every year. Just because I haven’t proved anything yet."

Kindle played in two games last season, but didn’t record any tackles or sacks.

A former All-Big 12 pass rusher, Kindle is on the spot after Suggs’ injury.

The Ravens want to see what he can do this year as he battles for a roster spot and playing time.

"I was hungry when I was injured," Kindle said. "With the opportunity to get out on the field, of course it’s different. My thing is, the hunger’s going to be there. It’s now what I do from now until then. I just have to make sure I’m focused, stay on top of my plays and perform well in practice. That’s what going to get me on the field."

Kindle acknowledged that the hearing problem is an issue, one that won’t improve.

Other than the hearing, he said everything else is fine.

He said he’s unsure how crowd noise will impact his game. Hand signals help him pick up the calls.

"The hearing hasn’t changed but I’m more acclimated to everything now," Kindle said. "We’re working on something to help deal with that on the field, but it’s in the makings right now.

"I’ve been recovered for a year now but I’m great now. I was good all of last year, but I had to take precaution coming in. This year, I got my guns blazing. It’s no holds barred. Whatever they put on the bar I’m lifting it."

Away from football, Kindle maintains a quiet lifestyle after being convicted of driving under the influence following a December 2010 arrest.

Kindle said he doesn’t have a car and lives in a hotel, where he spends his time taking naps, studying his playbook, eating, watching the NBA playoffs and taking in "Family Guy."

"Stronger, smarter, wiser and a better decision maker," Kindle said. ""I don’t put myself in bad situations. I just choose not to, especially with the chance of playing being a lot greater this year."

QUI CK HIT: Rookie second-round pick Kelechi Osemele took the majority of the first-string repetitions at left guard with Jah Reid rotating in at tackle.

Reid indicated that he ran with the first-team offense at left guard on Tuesday, though.

 

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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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