Waller itching to get back into game
Left tackle Stanley sits out his 4th consecutive practice
It has been almost a full calendar year since Darren Waller played in a regularseason game, having made an appearance on special teams in the Ravens’ 26-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 26, 2015. So it might be natural that the tight end is eager to play as early as perhaps Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium.
“I’m just planning on doing what I can with the reps they’re giving me,” Waller said after Wednesday’s practice. “If they want to feature me and let me run routes, I’m fine with that. If I’m coming in and blocking, I’m cool with that. If it’s just special teams, I’m cool with that. I’m preparing like I’m ready to do all three of those things, and I’m just going to see what happens.”
Waller’s participation in Wednesday’s session was his first since serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. Although he was not permitted to practice with his teammates and coaches, Waller said he worked on a plan by the coaching staff to keep him in shape and in the playbook.
“When they were practicing, I had my own script put together for me,” he said. “I was working indoors with the strength coaches, putting me through drills, running routes, doing everything they were doing in practice. It was just that there was nobody in front of me. So I worked on route work, technique, staying active.”
Ravens coaches are high on the 6-foot-6, 255-pound Waller, who is expected to fortify a tight end group that suffered a hit when Maxx Williams injured his knee in Sunday’s 28-27 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Asked about Waller’s first practice, coach John Harbaugh replied: “He hasn’t practiced up until today. It’s the first practice in a while, so that’s kind of how he looked.”
Waller conceded that training on his own was nothing like Wednesday’s session.
“I didn’t feel like completely out of my game, but definitely a little rust because I hadn’t had bodies in front of me the past four weeks,” he said. “But as practice went along, it definitely started to come back.”
The team also elevated tight end Daniel Brown from the practice squad to the active roster. Brown, who fills the spot vacated by Tuesday’s release of running back Justin Forsett, compared the promotion to a similar move when he was on the active roster for the final six games of last season.
“It just happened quicker this year,” he Darren Waller, left, works out with fellow tight end Crockett Gillmore during Wednesday’s practice. It was Waller’s first practice since serving a four-game suspension. said. “I don’t want to say it’s a sigh of relief, but now I’ve got to show that I deserve to be up. I have to push myself a little harder.” Stanley: Playing Sunday is ‘a possibility’: Left tackle Ronnie Stanley sat out his fourth consecutive practice dating to last week, but the rookie said his foot injury is improving. Stanley, who was deactivated before Sunday’s game and replaced by James Hurst, called playing Sunday against Washington “a possibility.”
The sixth overall pick in the NFL draft said he is not frustrated by the situation.
“It’s football, so you’re not going to be healthy the whole season, and you’re not going to be perfect,” he said.
Return specialist Devin Hester Sr. also missed practice with what is described as a thigh injury, but he insisted that the day off will help him be available for Sunday.
“It’s going to help out a lot,” he said. “Right now with this type of injury, I just need rest.”
Rookie cornerback Maurice Canady, a sixth-round pick, did not practice after suffering a thigh injury against Oakland. Cornerback Sheldon Price, who was inactive against the Raiders, was limited Wednesday by a thigh ailment. Rookie left guard Alex Lewis (concussion) — who was dressed for Sunday’s game but did not play — is no longer on the injury report. Dixon aiming to play Sunday: With Forsett now looking for work elsewhere, rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is in line to make his NFL debut Sunday.
“I’m very excited. I’m just practicing as hard as I can, show the coaches that I can play Sunday,” said Dixon, who practiced fully Wednesday. “I was out there full speed today. That was pretty good.”
Dixon, a fourth-round pick after a prolific college career at Louisiana Tech, missed the first four games after straining the MCL in his left knee during the third preseason game Aug. 27. He returned to practice last week with a brace.
While he stopped short of saying Dixon will definitely play Sunday, Harbaugh indicated the rookie is 100 percent, a factor that accelerated the team’s decision to part ways with Forsett.
“You do what’s best for the team,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the decisions that are made based on roster options and who is available and what you’re trying to do going forward.” End zone: Several Ravens spoke of how difficult it was to see Forsett go. The diminutive running back had become a team leader and a popular locker room
Tonight’s staff picks
Cardinals 49ers Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals 49ers presence during his three seasons with the organization. “He was a brother,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It’s always tough to see guys go, especially a guy like him.” … With many Orioles fans questioning manager Buck Showalter’s decision not to use closer Zach Britton in Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League wild-card game, Harbaugh was asked how he handles secondguessing. “I don’t know about last night, but yes, it’s part of the territory,” he said. “You understand that. It’s OK. That’s what makes it fun while we’re all sitting around talking ball.” … Sunday’s Ravens game will mark the first meeting between Harbaugh and Washington coach Jay Gruden since they got into a verbal altercation during the first quarter of a preseason game Aug. 29, 2015. During a conference call with Baltimore media, Gruden said he doesn’t carry a grudge from that incident. “It was just heat of the moment, and I have a ton of respect for Coach Harbaugh,” Gruden said. … Washington starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland did not practice. He sat out Sunday’s 31-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns with a strained tendon in his ankle. Four other starters participated on a limited basis. They were defensive end Chris Baker (elbow and toe), outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (sprained left elbow), left guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and left tackle Trent Williams (knee). Starting cornerback Josh Norman ( hand) practiced fully. … The Ravens filled Brown’s spot on the practice squad by signing wide receiver Kenny Bell, a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.