For purple-and-black die-hards, those who are riddled with Ravens love, one of the most wonderful times of the year is here.
Training camp begins tomorrow when veterans report to the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills.
On Tuesday, the Ravens had rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans take part in what coach John Harbaugh called a “pre-training camp period,” just to get ready for what’s to come between Wednesday and the Sept. 10 opener.
It has been a good couple of weeks for the organization, as tailback Ray Rice signed a five-year, $40 million deal last week and safety Ed Reed said what many assumed: that he’ll be on the field in 2012.
“Ed Reed plans on being here,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “I talked with Ed, had a great conversation and looking forward to seeing him.”
Harbaugh’s just as happy to have Rice’s contract done and the long-term future of the Pro Bowl rusher secured.
“It means we’ll have Ray here for a long period of time, which is a great thing,” Harbaugh said. “Congratulations to Ray. I thought both sides did a great job of getting the deal done. Nobody was happier than me, except for Ray. Ray was real happy. ... I think everybody, all the Ravens, it’s just great for everybody.”
But as camp gets under way, there are some issues the team will have to sort through. How will the offensive line shake out without Ben Grubbs? How will fourth-year linebacker Paul Kruger and 2012 second-round pick Courtney Upshaw handle the responsibility of covering for reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs while he recovers?
Harbaugh briefly addressed the latter question after Tuesday’s practice.
“There’s a lot to it because it’s an opportunity to start for the Ravens. It’s an opportunity to start in the National Football League,” the coach said. “Our goal is to be the best defense in football and that’s not going to change. Those guys have an opportunity to be obviously a huge part of that, so yeah, it’s a huge responsibility. But I don’t think it’d be any different at any other position. Any one of those 11 spots is a pretty big deal.”
Aside from Suggs and his rehabbing Achilles, the Ravens also have to wait out some other injured players as well.
Harbaugh went over a handful of them on training camp eve:
* Second-year offensive tackle Jah Reid is working his way back from a calf strain he suffered at the end of mini-camp and re-strained a couple of weeks ago.
* Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, the last of the team’s two second-round picks this year, is dealing with muscle spasms in his back.
“We’re just going to take it easy with him and just make sure we’re OK with that, but he’s looking really good,” Harbaugh said. “As we build him through these couple days, he should be ready to practice with us very soon, very very soon, like hopefully tomorrow or Thursday.”
* Third-year receiver/return specialist David Reed continues to rehab a knee injury he suffered late last season.
“David, we’re going to take slow. We’re talking about an ACL toward the mid-to-late season last year,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got hopes for David Reed, but if David Reed gets back in training camp, I think that’d be a huge upset, although he actually is looking really good. But let’s take it slow with an ACL.”
* Second-year defensive end Pernell McPhee had his knee scoped during the offseason and continues to rehab.
“Nothing major on his knee and he had a little personal issue, so he missed about a week of rehab. So we’re easing him in slow right now,” Harbaugh said. “He should be practicing very, very soon.”
Games might still be more than two weeks away, but football season is here again.