Practice Report: Entire Team Reports To Practice For First Time

Posted on October 31, 2013 by Joe Platania

OWINGS MILLS -- About 90 minutes before the Ravens' Oct. 30 practice began, head coach John Harbaugh made an announcement that was surprising on one level, and not that much of an eyebrow-raiser on another.

"We're going to have all 53 guys practicing today for the first time all season," he said.

After five players went into the Week Eight bye with any injury concerns, it was no shock to see that quintet join the others on the field for the midweek padded practice, held outdoors under mostly sunny skies.

But this deep into a season, bye week or not, it is surprising to see a team this healthy, especially when considering the rash of serious, long-term injuries to big-name players around the league. That has happened despite the NFL's safety initiatives that seem designed to keep marquee players on the field.

The Ravens with the most serious pre-bye health problems were linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder) -- back at practice for the first time in several weeks despite playing each game -- linebacker Josh Bynes (finger), guard Kelechi Osemele (back), wideout Brandon Stokley (groin) and running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring).

The offense wore white during the workout and the defense wore purple, an indication that the Ravens will wear white jerseys and black pants at Cleveland Nov. 3.

Especially telling was the fact that many players who usually report to the field later than most, such as running back Ray Rice, were outside early, an indication that a tightened-up, buttoned-down, no-frills approach is the new law of the land.

Meanwhile, newly signed running back Bernard Scott, a former Cincinnati Bengal, was assigned No. 34. Promoted safety Brynden Trawick is wearing Scott's former number, 28.

"I'll do whatever [the team] asks me to do," Scott said during his first meeting with Baltimore-area reporters.

Scott is seen as a speedy, shifty perimeter runner, but Harbaugh has emphasized that Scott can, and will, run between the tackles as well.

If Scott is to contribute to the Ravens' slumping special-teams units as well, he can continue to help as a punt-return gunner, helping to keep the coverage gunner off to the sidelines and away from punt returner Tandon Doss.

Doss has a punt-return average of 17.8 per runback, tops in the AFC and second in the NFL only to Green Bay's Micah Hyde (18.6).

During his last four games, Doss -- a slot presence who has helped the other receivers move outside and contribute more -- has hauled in 13 catches for an 18.4-yard average that would rank him in the league's top five if he had enough receptions to qualify.

Speaking of that stat, the league's top two in per-catch average will be on the same field this weekend. Top-ranked Torrey Smith is hauling in 20.3 yards per reception for Baltimore, and second-ranked Josh Gordon -- who didn't play for the Browns when they faced the Ravens during Week Two because of a league-mandated suspension -- is averaging 18.2 yards for each catch. 

Promoted safety Omar Brown will wear No. 31, while practice-squad additions Nick Stephens and Kamar Aiken will respectively wear 3 and 11.

***

JOEY P'S TRIVIA TIME: Today's question:

When a Baltimore-based NFL team played in Cleveland for the first time, who scored the first touchdown against the Browns?

Hint: the name and the scenario should sound familiar to those who know their local football history.

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today's column.

***

EYES IN THE SKY: Let's take a look at where some locally connected broadcasters will be working this weekend.

- For the second time this year, Westwood One radio analyst and ex-Ravens safety Rod Woodson will call a game involving his former team. He and play-by-play partner Tom McCarthy will be in Cleveland for the Ravens-Browns game.

- Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick, Fox play-by-play partner Dick Stockton and sideline reporter Laura Okmin called the Detroit comeback win against Dallas Oct. 27. This time around, they can only hope for a game half as good as that one when struggling Atlanta travels to Carolina.

- We're not sure how much of the country will get to see the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on Seattle, but the expected blowout might force Fox to switch much of the audience away from the call provided by ex-Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa and booth partners Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston.

- The longest-tenured archrivalry in the NFL, Green Bay at Chicago, takes the Monday-night spotlight and it will have its usual cast of characters on hand. Former Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason will be in the Westwood One radio booth and ex-WBAL-TV (Channel 11) reporter Lisa Salters will be at her usual ESPN sideline post.

***

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Along with general manager Ozzie Newsome, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta has an eye for talent that has made the Ravens' personnel department one of the league's best.

But when asked recently about the team's penchant for finding diamond-in-the-rough undrafted free agents, DeCosta let loose with an uncharacteristic malaprop, albeit a funny one:

"I don't want to compare it to Coke's secret recipe, but we compare it to Coke's secret recipe."

***

JOEY P'S TRIVIA TIME ANSWER: Here's the question we asked earlier in this column:

When a Baltimore-based NFL team played in Cleveland for the first time, who scored the first touchdown against the Browns?

Hint: the name and the scenario should sound familiar to those who know their local football history.

ANSWER:

Even though the Colts had been in operation for nearly four full seasons and the Browns had been absorbed into the NFL in 1950, the two teams didn't meet until November 1956, at old Cleveland Stadium.

That's because the Colts had been aligned into the Western Conference in order to maintain competitive balance, even though Baltimore has hardly been a western city.

In 1956, the Browns were two-time defending NFL champions, but were struggling along at 2-4 when the Colts visited with a 2-3 record of their own.

The Browns got on the board first on a 27-yard touchdown pass to Ray Renfro from Babe Parilli, who later went on to be a New York Jets backup.

But the Colts scored 21 unanswered points to win, 21-7. The first of those scores was on a 1-yard Alan Ameche touchdown burst, the same kind of play that would net Baltimore a championship two years later.

next up:

Revisiting 2013 American League East Predictions: Part III

October 31, 2013

Paul Folkemer reviews his preseason rankings for American League East pitchers, including Orioles starter Chris Tillman, and managers.

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