Ravens Camp Report: Setback for Baxter

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter can't really joke much about his aching stomach. It simply hurts too much to laugh.<br><br> The starting cornerback is still recovering from abdominal hernia surgery and was held out of team drills Saturday at McDaniel College after experiencing pain stemming from tearing scar tissue. <br><br>

The team's medical staff said this is an expected part of the healing process, but the pain is intense. "I'm not going to lie," Baxter said. "I wanted to cry a little bit, but I sucked it up for the fans."

Raymond Walls took Baxter's place with the defense opposite Corey Fuller. Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister has yet to report because of a contract dispute.

The soreness began in earnest for Baxter on Friday during his first practice back after surgery. He believes his sutures have dissolved. "I tore major scar tissue," Baxter said. "It's something I've got to work through. It hurts. I can still feel the walls where they went in to repair it. "We're just being smart with it. It's something you can't predict. Surgery is surgery. I know I'll be ready by the time the season comes."

COMPETITION: On the first day of practice, incumbent right offensive guard Bennie Anderson took the majority of the repetitions with the first offense.

As evidenced by the way the coaching staff divided Saturday's workload, Casey Rabach is indeed being considered as a potential alternative to Anderson.

When the Ravens began team drills, Rabach lined up with the starters.

Anderson has gotten in better shape since minicamp, when he estimated he was 360 pounds and many speculated he was even heavier. He's now listed at 6-foot-5 and 345 pounds, just a bit smaller than right tackle Orlando "Zeus" Brown, who's 6-7, 360 pounds.

"I think I'm in pretty good condition, but, of course, I would like to improve it," Anderson said. "I really don't discuss my weight. That's a sensitive topic. Put it like this: I'm not as big as Zeus."

Anderson and Rabach have vastly different styles.

Anderson is adept at drive blocking because of his bulk and strength. Rabach is smaller at 6-4, 301 pounds, but excels at pulling and tracking down linebackers away from the line of scrimmage.

"You can never relax in this game," said Anderson, a starter since 2001. "I work every day like I'm fighting just to make the team. Nothing has changed for me."

TRAINING ROOM: The list of ailing Ravens is growing daily.

Rookie running back B.J. Sams injured his thumb catching a punt and was schedule to undergo X-rays on Saturday night. He said he doesn't think it's broken.
Outside linebacker Adalius Thomas got his wrist smashed between two helmets, but taped it up and continued to practice.

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (back sprain) missed his second consecutive day of practice, but Ravens coach Brian Billick said he expects the All-Pro blocker to return by Monday. Ogden received a shot on Thursday.

Outside linebacker Peter Boulware (knee), quarterback Anthony Wright (shoulder) and tight end Trent Smith (leg) are still on the physically unable to perform list.

Rookie Zach Norton is no longer listed on the roster, but was running next to the practice field Saturday at McDaniel College. Norton had shoulder surgery this summer to address chronic dislocations.

NEWCOMERS: With Baxter out, McAlister absent and Dale Carter out for the season with a blood clot in his lungs, newly-signed cornerbacks Fred Weary and Rashad Holman are receiving increased work.

They were signed Friday.

"You can tell that they're veterans," Billick said. "They know what they're doing. They know how to gear this thing up and, hopefully, they'll be solid additions for us."

Holman, 26, previously played for the San Francisco 49ers. Weary, 30, has prior stints with the St. Louis Rams, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints.

"This is a great opportunity," Weary said. "I can feel my natural ability coming back. I just need to get down the terminology. If I get the ball, I'm taking all the way back. I can provide consistent coverage and I can make big plays."

NO CHANGE: Although Kordell Stewart is aware that he's only being considered as a backup to starting quarterback Kyle Boller, he said that doesn't change his approach to preparation.

"You still have to be a field general, whether you're a starter or a backup," Stewart said. "If you think like a backup, you're going to perform like a backup. Really, a backup is like your sixth man in basketball. It's just a matter of how well he comes in and keeps things going."

ROSTER MOVES: The Ravens waived rookie offensive guard Monreko Crittenden before training camp began.

QUICK HITS: Left defensive end Tony Weaver, who battles with right offensive tackles who routinely outweigh him by 50 to 60 pounds, has bulked up to 290 pounds. … Billick indicated that rookie wide receiver Devard Darling is contending for the third receiver job. Randy Hymes is another top candidate. … Brown nearly got into a fight with rookie outside linebacker Brandon Rager during a pass-rush drill, but restrained himself from throwing a punch. … Rookie outside linebacker Roderick Green drew praise from Ray Lewis for his aggressive style. … Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed signed autographs and posed for photographs for an hour.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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