Ravens back to practice during bye week minus six players


(Updated: 4:45 p.m.)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Beginning preparations for any one of three opponents when they return to action a week from Sunday, the Ravens returned to the practice field to stay sharp while completing some self-evaluation during their bye week.
In a practice that resembled one you might see in training camp with apparatuses being used for tight ends and running backs to fire out of their stance in a low position, six players were missing during the portion of practice open to the media.
Linebackers Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain (MCL sprain), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, guards Marshal Yanda (chest) and Ben Grubbs were not present as the rest of the team practiced on its indoor field to stay away from the bitter cold in Owings Mills. Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps) was on the field but was not working before he walked off as the viewing portion of practice concluded.
Yanda’s absence was not surprising given the impressive display of courage he put forth in playing at a high level against the Bengals despite suffering from rib and thigh contusions that kept him out of practice for most of the week leading up to the Week 17 showdown. Needless to say, the bye couldn’t come at a better time for the Pro Bowl right guard.
“It will be huge,” Yanda said. “Get that extra week of recovery, and that’s just money to heal and be ready to play whoever we play next Sunday.”
Meanwhile, the sight of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive backs Tom Zbikowski and Jimmy Smith all practicing was an encouraging one as all three have suffered concussions over the last two weeks. Ellerbe was inactive for the Ravens’ 24-16 win over the Bengals to conclude the regular season after suffering his on Christmas Eve while the latter two sustained concussions against Cincinnati. With the Ravens not participating in any contact drills this week, it is unclear whether the three concussed players have been officially cleared.
As anticipated, wide receiver Anquan Boldin (knee) was practicing and appeared to be moving well during the open portion of practice. The veteran practiced on a limited basis on Friday before missing his second straight game on Sunday.
With the Ravens releasing veteran kicker Shayne Graham on Tuesday, it was a clear sign that Billy Cundiff is finally over the left calf issue that forced him out of the Ravens’ Week 16 win over Cleveland. Cundiff expressed frustration with being unable to kick with authority during the month of December, especially on kickoffs where the 2010 Pro Bowl kicker excels.
“It sucked not knowing if [the calf] would hold up, that’s not the best feeling,” Cundiff said. “Not being able to be aggressive, not being able to know if it’s going to hold up, not having the power really to pull when I plant, that affects being aggressive. For me to be able to actually get through a game and be able to do the things that I’m supposed to do, I’ve got to have the strength first and foremost.”
Since they are not playing a game this weekend, the Ravens did not release an injury report following Wednesday’s practice.