BALTIMORE – The Ravens' offensive line unveiled a new look during the open stadium practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Aug. 12, with newly acquired tackle Austin Howard making his Ravens debut as the starting right tackle and James Hurst, who had been the starting right tackle, moving to left guard.
The left guard slot was suddenly open after the Ravens announced on Aug. 11 that presumptive starter Alex Lewis will be lost for the season because a shoulder injury.
Hurst started three games at tackle last season and has started 14 games at tackle in three seasons with the Ravens.
"He’s a versatile player," coach John Harbaugh said after the stadium practice."One of the things about James is he’s very smart. He’s got the kind of athletic ability really to play inside or outside. He can really move his feet and he wants to do it. He’s excited about it, so let’s roll."
The Ravens line has been in a state of flux all training camp. Center John Urschel retired abruptly, rookie guard Nico Siragusa suffered a season-ending knee injury, and Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda has been limited while returning from offseason shoulder surgery. Then Lewis went down with a shoulder injury.
Now the line has a little more clarity, with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, Hurst at left guard, Ryan Jensen at center, Yanda at right guard and Howard at right tackle.
Still, there could be more changes. The Ravens are reportedly considering bringing back Jeremy Zuttah, the center they traded away last season who was recently let go by the 49ers.
Hurst, who joined the Ravens undrafted out of North Carolina, said it was a "vote of confidence" that the Ravens would insert him into the starting spot at left guard, bumping him ahead of Matt Skura and rookie Jermaine Eluemunor on the depth chart.
"It’s definitely a vote of confidence," Hurst said, "I just gotta go prove that they’re right."
Hurst said he took some reps at guard during training camp last year, so the position is not entirely new to him.
"I’ve got some good experience at it, but obviously it’s not Sunday experience," he said, "so just working up to that, getting these practices are important for me."
Hurst said the biggest challenge for him is that "It’s bigger guys (inside). They don’t have the speed that edge rushers do, but they have way more power. So it’s just a different game inside."
Yanda, who has seen time at both guard and tackle in his Ravens career, said he expects Hurst will be up to the task.
"He was a professional the day that he walked in here as a rookie," Yanda said, "He cares, he works his tail off, he wants to improve his craft every day. … He’s gonna be a player in this league. Just need to get him on the field and get him some reps."
TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK
HUMPHREY RETURNS TO ACTION: First-round draft pick cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who has been sidelined for the past five practices by an undisclosed injury, returned to practice Aug. 12. He said he expects to play in the second preseason game at Miami.
HARBAUGH GOING WITH DOCTORS’ ADVICE ON FLACCO: The Ravens announced Aug. 11 that QB Joe Flacco would not play at all in the preseason as he recovers from a back injury, and Harbaugh said the decision was based on medical advice. “That’s what we go with, what the doctors say,” he said.
HURRY UP AND KICK: The Ravens ran a simulated drill in which the clock was winding down and they could run one play and then rush the field-goal team onto the field. In that drill, Justin Tucker missed from 55 and 58 yards but then made four in a row from 48, 46, 44 and 35. That 35-yarder came after a great diving catch by WR Chris Moore, who has been hurt by drops at times.
ADEBOYEJO SHINES AGAIN: Undrafted rookie WR Quincy Adeboyejo continues to stand out. In a seven-on-seven drill, he beat Jimmy Smith on a deep pass down the left sideline that was probably QB Ryan Mallett’s best throw of the day. Adeboyejo in other drills hauled in catches against Robertson Daniel and Humphrey.
ANOTHER PICK FOR PIERCE: Defensive tackle Michael Pierce recorded his second interception of the preseason as he grabbed a pass that had been tipped by Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens have tipped a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage in camp. Cornerback Brandon Carr also had a couple of interceptions in various drills, including one after fellow corner Lardarius Webb tipped the pass.
DOG DAYS: Many Ravens fans brought their dogs to the practice as part of a team promotion, but Harbaugh said he took exception to “Who Let the Dogs Out?” being played over the public address system, despite its place in Ravens history during the first Super Bowl run. “I can’t believe (they) played it. I knew it was coming … That’s the Browns song. It’s a Cleveland Browns song. I don’t know about ‘01, I just know the Browns play it every time we go in there.”
OVERHEARD: “We got hot water! Bisciotti paid the bill!” – Terrell Suggs in the locker room after practice