ZUTTAH ALSO SHAKEN UP; OVERALL DEFENSIVE DEPTH A GROWING CONCERN
OWINGS MILLS -- The dog days of training camp are beginning to dog the Ravens.
The team's overall defensive depth had already been thinned with injuries in the secondary, and two linebacker absences in inside men, Albert McClelland and Daryl Smith.
It appears to have been compromised even more July 30 when defensive linemen Timmy Jernigan and Brent Urban, both members of the team's nine-man draft class, were apparently injured on the same 11-on-11 running play early in team drills.
Also, starting center Jeremy Zuttah went down on a running play, but he did not appear to be seriously affected.
Urban will undergo an MRI later in the evening, but it appears that both Zuttah and Jernigan may have escaped major problems.
"We'd been fortunate so far [with injuries]," head coach John Harbaugh said. "We had a few issues come up today. Jeremy looks fine and Timmy looks fine."
With the ball carrier going to the right side, right tackle Jah Reid practically pancaked Urban, the fourth-round pick from Virginia. Urban could put no pressure on his right leg as he left the field and was carted into the building.
Meanwhile, Jernigan -- for now, the de factor backup to Haloti Ngata -- lay on the field for the same five-minute period as Urban.
The second-round pick soon rose to his feet and walked gingerly to the sideline, appearing to favor his back. With some assistance, he also disappeared into the team's training room.
The defensive line unit was seen as one of the team's youngest, fastest and deepest before training camp began.
However, with the recent spate of misfortune, the team may have to scramble to find replacements, whether on their own roster or on that of other teams.
"Those were two kids who were working hard for us," defensive line coach Clarence Brooks said of Jernigan and Urban. "[Urban] had made steady progress. He has a great work ethic, and he's going to be a very good football player."
Two saving graces for the defense have been the improved play of a pair that has battled weight problems, outside linebackers Pernell McPhee and Courtney Upshaw.
In the same practice that saw their two teammates go down, the tandem -- both of whom often line up in a two-point stance at the same level as the linemen -- made numerous forays into the backfield and out to the edges, displaying some good quickness and speed in the process.
"It's a good group," Brooks said. "We've got lots of good, young talent that's already played a lot of good football for us."
Not only that, but defensive end DeAngelo Tyson is part of a solid corps at that position, which is headed by veteran Chris Canty and second-year player Kapron Lewis-Moore.
Urban was to be a part of that mix as well, but his season could be in jeopardy.
"It's tough, but we recognize as players that injuries are a part of the game," Canty said.
It remains to be seen whether these injuries will be a big part of the Ravens' season.
PRACTICE HIGHLIGHTS: Here are a few notable moments of the July 30 workout, held in full pads under sunny skies:
• Rookie first-round linebacker C.J. Mosley and veteran inside linebacker Josh Bynes repeatedly got good burst and penetration into the backfield.
• Tight end Dennis Pitta moved across the formation and perfectly picked off a defender to allow Ray Rice to find a running lane.
• Fullback Kyle Juszczyk is two inches shorter and about 15 pounds lighter than linebacker Terrell Suggs, but he exploded into Suggs with good force while blocking for Rice.
• On consecutive plays, passes were broken up by Tyson and safety Terrence Brooks, but neither player celebrated after making those plays, a sign that focus may be reigning over showmanship.
• Kicker Justin Tucker, still upset over missing a 64-yard field goal try at the stadium practice, nailed kicks of 63 and 57 yards.
• Quarterback Joe Flacco made a rare mistake, slowly lofting a pass into the end zone that was easily picked off by cornerback Dominique Franks.
• On the first team-drill play, left tackle Eugene Monroe false-started. However, that has been a rarity for both offensive and defensive linemen as camp has progressed.
• Running back Justin Forsett, an unheralded signing during free agency, continues to impress with his quick-cutting style.
• Flacco rolled to his right and threw a deep ball to Torrey Smith, who left the beleaguered Chykie Brown in his wake for a touchdown.
• Third-string quarterback Keith Wenning unleashed his two best throws of camp, perfectly leading Shaun Chapas down the seam and finding Phillip Supernaw in the flat. However, a hesitant Wenning throw to Fitzgerald Touissant resulted in his getting blasted by linebacker Austin Spitler.
• Wideout Kamar Aiken, who turned in a fine performance at the stadium practice and could be working his way onto the roster, made a good sideline catch. Marlon Brown, who has been rather inconsistent in camp, beat Chykie Brown with a diving one-handed catch.
• The Bridges Group from St. Paul's School attended the July 30 practice. One of the Ravens' official community partners; it is a mentoring program for inner-city youth.
Joe Platania is in his 21st season covering professional football.