NEW ORLEANS (AP) Baltimore Ravens starters Dannell Ellerbe and Dennis Pitta practiced Wednesday in heavy winds at Tulane University, looking sharp despite nagging injuries.
Inside linebacker Ellerbe has been bothered by an ankle injury, while tight end Pitta has a thigh problem. Both moved freely in Baltimore's first practice in New Orleans.
Ellerbe said earlier this week ``I'm definitely playing in this game,'' and Pitta echoed those sentiments.
The Ravens practiced for nearly 2 hours on a makeshift 80-yard field stretching across the outfield at Tulane's Greer Field baseball stadium. Unlike the San Francisco 49ers, who worked out at the Saints' indoor facility, Baltimore dealt with wind gusts up to 24 mph.
Baltimore had the option of working at the Saints' indoor facility late in the afternoon or early Wednesday evening, after the 49ers finished. But coach John Harbaugh said he and the players preferred to practice on schedule in mid-afternoon.
``We had a great practice,'' Harbaugh said as his players left the field. ``We didn't like the wind, but we got all of our work done. Spirits are high. They looked great.
``Our players are upbeat and happy. They don't complain about anything.''
In past Super Bowls here, teams have practiced on Tulane's football field. But that field is under construction because the school is building a new on-campus stadium.
In addition to the field Baltimore practiced on Wednesday, Tulane has another 50-yard field that kickers and punters are using.
The Secretary of the Navy expressed confidence Thursday that sixth-round draft pick Keenan Reynolds will be able to play for the Ravens next season. Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Ray Mabus said there should be ways for Reynolds to fulfill his Navy obligations while pursuing his NFL career.
“If I was an NFL team I would want Keenan Reynolds in my locker room,” Mabus said on the show. “Keenan Reynolds is a great ambassador for not only the United States Navy but the United States military. I’m confident we can work something out so Keenan can do both, play and serve…I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he can do both.”
The Ravens were hopeful that Reynolds would be allowed to play, but said they would abide by whatever decision made by the Navy. Reynolds was a star quarterback at Navy, but will try to forge an NFL career as a wide receiver-punt returner. Reynolds is scheduled to participate in this weekend’s Ravens rookie minicamp.
A precedent for Reynolds being allowed to play has already been set. The Patriots drafted long snapper Joe Cardona in the fifth round last season, and he played all of last season while also working at a Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island.
Reynolds could be a busy man as well next season, juggling Navy responsibilities with football. However, Reynolds has long dreamed of playing in the NFL, and Mabus’ comments were a positive sign.
Here are three things you should know about Ravens fourth-round pick (130), offensive tackle Alex Lewis.
1. Lewis overcame a bad off-the-field incident in college.
After an altercation with an Air Force cadet that left the cadet unconscious, Lewis was sentenced to 45 days in jail for third-degree assault. Afterward, he transferred from Colorado to Nebraska. After researching Lewis thoroughly, the Ravens felt comfortable enough to take a chance on him.
“In terms of the incident, we vet all of our guys,” said Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz. “It’s out there, people know about it, and we’ve discussed it. Our scouts do a great job of not only talking to the coaches there, but following up with the staff at Colorado as well. And we felt very comfortable after discussing with the staffs at both schools and finding out information from different reports, and then as well as talking to the kid about the incident.”
2. Lewis will compete for a backup tackle spot.
Whether the Ravens keep Eugene Monroe or not, Lewis has a chance to be the backup left tackle if he can beat out James Hurst. Lewis could also become the backup right tackle behind Rick Wagner.
3. Lewis was selected a team captain at Nebraska.
That speaks highly of what teammates and coaches thought of him, and how he rebounded from his past troubles.
Ravens offensive tackle Alex Lewis was tough to reach when the Ravens drafted him.
Lewis was at the grocery store when the Ravens called. That became a problem. The cell phone signal was bad between Lewis and general manager Ozzie Newsome, and Newsome didn’t have much time, with another pick to make soon.
Newsome finally gave up trying to speak to Lewis, and told coach John Harbaugh to call Lewis’ house.
“So I get on the phone with his mom, and I’m going, ‘Is Alex there?’", Harbaugh told reporters when the draft ended.
“And she goes, ‘No, he’s not. May I ask who is calling?’ I’m like, ‘It’s John Harbaugh, with the Ravens.’ She goes, ‘Oh, well how I can I help you?’ I said, ‘Well, we were hoping that Alex would become a Baltimore Raven, and we’re thinking about drafting him. Is he there right now?’ (She said), ‘No, he just stepped out and he went to the store, but he’ll be back in a little while.’ I’m just going, ‘He’s at the store! What do we do now?’ She goes, ‘Now who is this team again?’
Lewis returned from his grocery run a short time later, spoke to Harbaugh, and all was well. It made for a draft experience the Ravens and Lewis won’t soon forget.