OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ravens safety Earl Thomas said his spat with defensive lineman Brandon Williams came out of frustration and said the two defensive leaders are "on the same page" moving forward.
Williams missed the Ravens' 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sept. 29, and after the game an NFL Network report indicated that Thomas and Williams had a "heated discussion" in the training room, with Thomas expressing frustration that Williams was inactive.
Williams had practiced all week before being a late addition to the Ravens injury report with a knee injury that coach John Harbaugh said "flared up."
Speaking with the media before the team's practice Oct. 3, Thomas said he was surprised to learn that Williams wouldn't be playing and admitted to being "a little frustrated" after the loss. With the run-stuffing Williams on the sideline, the Browns racked up 530 yards of total offense against the Ravens, including 193 on the ground.
Williams was not in the locker room during the hourlong media availability Oct. 3, and Thomas said whatever differences surfaced after the game have been cleared up.
"We're on the same page," he said. "We talked about it. I just want him out there. He's a Pro Bowler. We're better when he's out there. I was a little frustrated. I just wanted to see what was going on with him, because I know he had practiced earlier in the week."
"Hopefully he'll play this week," Thomas added.
B. WILLIAMS RETURNS, SMITH REMAINS SIDELINED: Defensive lineman Brandon Williams returned to practice Oct. 3 after missing the Cleveland Browns game Sept. 29 and practice Oct. 2 with a knee injury. Tight end Mark Andrews (foot) also practiced after sitting out Wednesday.
The Ravens only absences from practice Oct. 3 were cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee), safety Brynden Trawick (elbow) and center Matt Skura. Smith still has not practiced since sustaining a sprained knee in the season opener. The reason for Skura's absence was unclear.
MARTINDALE: ‘WE JUST GOTTA PLAY BETTER FOOTBALL': Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale was uncharacteristically brief during his weekly media session, and it was easy to sense his frustration after the Ravens allowed 500 yards in offense for the second straight week -- a first in franchise history.
"We have a lot of things to learn," Martindale said, stressing that the problems boil down to basic defensive concepts that players are taught as early as Pop Warner football. "Fundamentals, technique, angles to the football and tackling. That's what we gotta get done."
The Ravens (2-2) enter their Week 5 game at Pittsburgh ranked 27th in total defense, 10th against the run and 30th against the pass. They have allowed eight plays of 40 yards or more, the most in the league, and yielded three such plays in the loss to the Browns.
In previous games, players attributed those big-play breakdowns to miscommunication, but Martindale said that in the Browns game, "Communication was not a problem. ... We just gotta play better football."
"Gotta coach better, gotta play better," Martindale added. "I know that's a boring answer, but that's what it is."
HORTON: HILL STILL IN MIX AT KICK RETURNER: Ravens special teams coach Chris Horton said rookie running back Justice Hill will get more chances as a kick returner despite being replaced by Chris Moore against Cleveland after Hill mishandled a return for the second time this season.
Hill has bobbled two kick returns in four games, although he retained possession each time. Hill has averaged 19.4 yards on seven returns. Moore took over for Hill against the Browns and had three returns for 67 yards.
Overall, the Ravens rank 20th in the league with an average kickoff return of 20.3 yards.
"I stood up here the last time after that [bobble] happened, and I said we trust Justice, we believe in him, and we still do," Horton said during his weekly media session, noting that a switch was made to Moore against the Browns to try to "create some momentum."
"I can guarantee you guys you will see Justice again," Horton said.
PACKERS CLAIM T. WILLIAMS: The Green Bay Packers claimed outside linebacker Tim Williams via waivers a day after the Ravens released the third-year player. Williams struggled to establish himself as the situational pass-rusher the Ravens were looking for when they drafted him in the third round out of Alabama in 2017.
In four games this season, Williams had two tackles and no sacks and played a season-low seven snaps in the Ravens 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns before being released the next day.
In Green Bay, Williams will be reunited with Za'Darius Smith, the Ravens' 2018 sack leader who signed with the Packers as a free agent this past offseason. Smith has 11 tackles and three sacks in four games with the Packers.
Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox