Perhaps the Ravens’ biggest question heading into their first training camp without Ray Lewis is how to replace the longtime face of the franchise.
As for who assumes the leadership role, that seems like less of an issue with quarterback Joe Flacco, tailback Ray Rice, linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata still in place.
But when it comes to his on-field role as signal-caller and middle linebacker, that’s more of a concern, especially because of the uncertain status of Jameel McClain.
After the Ravens convened for their first day of training camp with quarterbacks, rookies and injured veterans taking the field for the initial practice, coach John Harbaugh revealed that McClain’s spinal contusion hasn’t healed up as hoped.
McClain is a frontrunner to become the starter at middle linebacker, but Monday, he was placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), and Harbaugh said Tuesday that he isn’t sure when the veteran will be back.
“Jameel is a tougher one to predict because he’s got the back issue. It’s a spinal cord issue. So that just has to heal,” Harbaugh said. “So until that heals and we have proof that it’s healed, he’s not going to be out there. Doctors have anticipated that he would be out here by this time. It’s a little slower maybe than we had hoped, but when he’s ready, he’ll be out here. So we’ve got to continue to take some tests. He’ll take some more tests tomorrow.”
McClain missed the last three games and all of the postseason with the injury.
Arthur Brown, the Ravens’ second-round pick out of Kansas State, could be a possibility and may gain an advantage in the competition as he’s 100 percent healthy following offseason sports hernia surgery.
Harbaugh sounded more upbeat about Pro Bowl offensive lineman Marshal Yanda, who also is on the PUP list following shoulder surgery.
“He’s working the shoulder. He’s doing great,” Harbaugh said. “He’ll be involved in the walkthrough practices and the individual periods, and things like that during the walkthrough. He will not be involved in the regular practices.”
And onto the next bit of uplifting news, top cornerback Lardarius Webb will be fully available from the start of training camp after sitting out the final 10 games last season because of torn knee ligaments.
Webb was on the field Tuesday, looking crisp and in shape, and Harbaugh said the fifth-year pro will not have to be placed on the PUP list.
“Lardarius is practicing. We will bring him along as we see fit,” Harbaugh said.
Jacoby Jones, who was placed on the non-football injury list Monday after failing his mandatory conditioning test, is expected to retake the test Wednesday.
Harbaugh envisions Jones getting up to speed quickly and passing.
“I do, I do. I’d be very surprised if he isn’t. He’s very close on it,” Harbaugh said. “I’d never make any excuses for him. He should pass it. ... But we’ll see. It’s up to him. It’s his job to do. That’s the facts. Facts are stubborn things.”