Ravens' offense takes a step back

WESTMINSTER -- Two days after drawing praise for displaying efficiency and timing in a scrimmage, it was an entirely different story Monday morning for the Baltimore Ravens' offense. They struggled through an awkward practice, not resembling the crisp unit that moved the football consistently against the Washington Redskins on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

There were dropped passes, errant throws and an inability to score in the red zone as the first-team defense flexed its muscles.

Quarterback Steve McNair was intercepted by cornerback Chris McAlister, and Ray Lewis recorded a sack during the two-minute drill. Then, the second-team offense went three-and-out.

"It wasn't good enough on the offensive side and we have to do better," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

One week before the Ravens' preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, Billick cautioned against looking too far into the future and wasting valuable practice time.

"Monday is a long way off," Billick said. "It's just, 'God, let's get to the preseason game. Then when I get to the preseason game, it's 'God, just get to the regular season.' So, you have to be careful about wishing your life away and not taking advantage of the opportunity you have now.

"I don't know that we seized that opportunity. A very good scrimmage and, probably after a good day of, we're taking a little longer than we needed to."

SCARY MOMENT: The Ravens endured a scare when massive defensive lineman Haloti Ngata -- all 6-foot-4, 340 pounds of him -- accidentally banged into McNair, knocking the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to the ground.

Ngata apologized to the quarterback, who's not allowed to be hit during practice, and McNair quickly got up. He seemed to favor his hip, but returned to practice and isn't believed to be injured.

Ngata dominated offensive guard Chris Chester during blocking drills and full-team snaps.

"The coaches at Oregon , they couldn't practice because of him," Billick said of Ngata's alma mater. "They'd have to end up just leaving him on the sidelines because they couldn't get anything done, and I can see why. He's a force."

INJURY UPDATE: Fullback Justin Green (knee) and offensive tackle Mike Kracalik (ankle) passed their physicals and were activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Along with rookie offensive guard Ben Grubbs, who continues to be limited to individual drills since spraining his right knee last week, the Ravens are taking it slow with the trio of injured players.

"They're ready to go, but we have to be careful; how we integrate them back in," Billick said. "They're going to get sore. Certain situations live, certain situations you want to keep them out of, we need to see if we can work them into a situation where they'll hold up."

Nose guard Kelly Gregg, whom the team initially said had a thigh bruise, actually has an injured knee and still isn't practicing. Gregg is wearing a knee brace and acknowledged that it's his right knee that's bothering him. It isn't believed to be serious.

Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Antwan Barnes (right ankle sprain) and wide receiver Clarence Moore (hamstring) returned to practice and were limited to individual drills.

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe) and linebackers Dan Cody (knee surgery) and Mike Smith (shoulder surgery) remain on the physically unable to perform list.

ROSTER MOVES: The Ravens cut a pair of undrafted rookie free agents, safety Donnie Johnson ( Penn State ) and defensive end Travis Leitko (Notre Dame).

Baltimore signed linebacker Ryan Riddle, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound third-year pro out of Cal-Berkeley, and defensive end Bill Swancutt, a 6-4, 270-pound second-year pro out of Oregon State.

ROOKIE WATCH: Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Edgar Jones is making a name for himself, notching a sack against the Redskins and excelling in pursuit.

The 6-3, 263-pound former Division I-AA All-American from Southeast Missouri appears to be a strong candidate for at least the practice squad. He led all I-AA in sacks with a dozen last year.

"His name came up several times," Billick said regarding the team's Sunday film-review. "The coaches are very impressed with him so far."

QUICK HITS: Rookie offensive tackle Jared Gaither continues to get the best of two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs during blocking drills. Suggs has had much more success against Marshal Yanda and Adam Terry. … With the morning practice closed to the general public with several sponsors in attendance wearing yellow hats, it was much quieter at McDaniel College . … Linebacker Dennis Haley intercepted a Troy Smith pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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