Waller itch­ing to get back into game

Left tackle Stan­ley sits out his 4th con­sec­u­tive prac­tice

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Edward Lee edward.lee@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­wardLeeSun Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Jeff Zre­biec contributed to this ar­ti­cle.

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.

KENNETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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