Upshaw hopes to play Friday (Premium)

Courtney Upshaw believes he can play against the Lions this Friday, but he'll have to get the approval of the training staff first.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Courtney Upshaw practiced for the third consecutive time since coming back to the football field on Aug. 7. He's been limited as he's still recovering from a sprained shoulder sustained early in camp. 

He's optimistic that he'll play this Friday in Baltimore's second preseason game against Detroit, but he'll still have to get approval from the training staff before seeing time as an NFL player for the first time. 

"I'm confident but it depends on how my shoulder reacts to these next few days of practice," Upshaw said. "I got to wait on the OK to go out there."

Upshaw, selected with the 35th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, didn't play against Atlanta in the preseason opener this past Thursday even though he practiced on Tuesday. He's been a limited participant since hitting the football field again and has had his shoulder wrapped. 

While Upshaw's been missing time, linebacker Albert McClellan has been gaining ground. On Saturday, coach John Harbaugh said McClellan's in the thick of the race for earning a starting role on this year's team. 

"(McClellan's) competing for a starting job, and he's done nothing to make you think that he couldn't be a starter, the way he played and the way he practiced," Harbaugh said. "He's played really, really well. That makes it interesting. This program is built on competition. The best guys play, and the guys who are the best are the guys that play the best, presently. You go by what you see, not by what you remember or what you're told."

Following Baltimore's practice at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Sunday, Upshaw was asked if he was concerned his starting job could be in jeopardy with the time he's missed in practice. 

"I'm not feeling any pressure. It's just that all these guys here are fighting. I knew that coming in after they drafted me. It's on me, that when I get better to come back in and fight with them."

(My take: The job is still Upshaw's, but there's nothing wrong with competition. McClellan's done a great job and will definitely factor into the defensive rotation and see more snaps this year with Terrell Suggs out. It remains to be seen what Upshaw will be able to do in practice this week as he tries to play against Detroit on Friday.)

WR Smith says ankle is OK

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who injured his ankle on Thursday, practiced on Sunday and said his injury isn't anything serious. 

"I felt all right," Smith said. "Any time I'm walking, I'm not hurt, so you all aren't going to get that out of me. It's a little nick. It's football. You have to deal with it; you have to learn to play with it. I'm fine."

Smith didn't participate in team drills, as Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones and LaQuan Williams were the top three receivers. 

(My take: Smith should be fine, but the "you all aren't going to get that out of me" line sticks out some. Smith probably isn't dealing with anything major but it makes you wonder if it's something that's keeping it from being 100 percent. Regardless of how you want to read into that, Smith doesn't appear to be expanding on any injury information any time soon.)

Other injury notes

Cornerback Jimmy Smith said his injured back is feeling better. He practiced for the second consecutive day but didn't participate in 11-on-11 drills. 

Smith initially injured his back Aug. 2 when defending a slant route from Jacoby Jones. His back locked up and he went down to a knee. 

"It's something that's happened before," Smith said. "I wasn't surprised or anything. It just takes some time to die down."

Returning to practice Sunday were receivers Logan Payne (hip) and Patrick Williams (undisclosed). Missing from practice were TE Ed Dickson (shoulder), TE Dennis Pitta (hand), OL Jah Reid (calf), WR David Reed (ACL), WR Tandon Doss (hamstring), CB Chykie Brown (hamstring), CB Asa Jackson (hamstring), DT Ryan McBean (ankle), LB Josh Bynes (back), LB Darryl Blackstock (groin) and OLB Terrell Suggs (Achilles).

Kemoeatu fighting for starting spot

Who knew Terrence Cody was in danger of losing his starting nose tackle position?

That's exactly the message coach John Harbaugh sent when asked about the recent play by Ma'ake Kemoeatu. 

"I'd say Kemo's pushing for a starting job," Harbaugh said. "He's done (well), really since training camp started. He's in great shape and playing extremely well."

Kemoeatu was with Washington in 2010 and rushed back from an Achilles injury. It didn't properly heal, which led to Washington releasing Kemoeatu. He didn't play football in 2011 and ballooned to 415 pounds. 

After getting that big, Kemoeatu dedicated himself to dropping the pounds, and is now around 345 pounds. Kemoeatu's efforts have gone noticed as he's gained more playing time with the first team. 

"Dude's a beast," said defensive end Pernell McPhee. "He's a beast. He's a mini-Haloti Ngata. He's a smaller version, they're the same size. What is he, Tongan? I don't know what they got in their water but he's a beast."

(My take: I wouldn't say Cody's job is in jeopardy in the sense that he would lose playing time. But with Kemoeatu becoming a viable option on defense, Baltimore could look to use both nose tackles evenly to keep them fresh as the season drags on.)

Flacco approves of no-huddle approach

Joe Flacco made no bones about it: He's a fan of Baltimore's no-huddle approach that it showed against Atlanta in the preseason opener. 

"I love the no-huddle, (but) we've got to get quicker and quicker at it," Flacco said. "I like to go up there and run a play, run a play, run a play. That's what we're going to be and I think we got to make sure we get it as fast as we can."

(My take: Flacco's right, the team does have to get quicker at the no-huddle. Remember the Jacksonville game last year? It's something the team will look to take advantage of this preseason, getting reps in a high-tempo offense. They just have to make sure they're executing so that the regular season doesn't feature games where the offense musters just four yards in nine plays in the first quarter like against Atlanta.)

Other notes

Ed Reed on why he played Thursday despite being scratched from the lineup: "A couple of teammates asked me to play and I was like, 'Cool. I'm not doing anything else.' Physically, I could play. I was looking forward to playing anyway."

Ed Dickson on his sprained shoulder, which he called a "freak accident": "It was a routine catch in the end zone. I knew something was up because it started to burn. ... I'm just happy the MRI showed up negative."

McPhee on proving he's more than just a pass rusher: "I think I can do both, rush the passer, stop the run. I just gotta go out there and compete, and not listen to guys who say I can only rush the passer. I just have to go out there and be focused, go out there and compete every down."

Bryant McKinnie didn't appear too down about still being primarily with the second team offensive line: "Just for me, I need to get in there and get reps period, whether it's with the first or second team."

Harbaugh on getting more Ravens fans in the DMV area: "I'd like to see all the fans in Washington [D.C.], southern Maryland, northern Virginia, let us be your AFC team, and you can be our NFC team, except I am always going to kind of be with the Eagles myself (he coached there from 1998-2007). But, we can be fans of more than one team. It's a great sports area, and the Ravens are a big part of that."

Attendance: The Ravens reported that 20,335 people showed up to watch the team practice at Navy's stadium. 

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