Notebook: Tempers flare at Ravens camp

WESTMINSTER20-- Soaring through the air as if performing a stage dive at a heavy metal concert, combative Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson dove over a scrum of brawling players to get involved in a fight between linebacker Nick Greisen and offensive tackle Mike Kracalik.

Johnson's helmet flew off when he went airborne and landed on a pile of bodies. He incurred a small facial cut during the altercation as tempers flared several times during a Sunday morning practice.

"I was just having some fun," Johnson said. "You can get yourself in trouble on the way down to the ground, though."

Defensive tackle Justin Bannan began circling his finger around the ear hole of his helmet as a piece of visual commentary on Johnson, adding out loud: "He's crazy."

Minutes after the initial skirmish, linebacker Antwan Barnes brawled with temperamental rookie offensive tackle Oniel Cousins and actually took the unusual measure of kicking Cousins in the butt after the fight was broken up.

"Brothers fight sometimes," Barnes said. "It's just the heat, that's all."

Cousins, who has been involved in several fights in practice since being drafted in the third round out of UTEP, was unaware that Barnes had mistaken him for a soccer ball.

"I didn't even know that happened," he said. "We're all brothers, so you pretend like it didn't happen. You just laugh about it."

Later, Johnson swatted Cousins' helmet off his head so hard that it landed seve ral yards away.

"We laugh about that stuff later when we watch the film," Johnson said. "There's no ill will there. It's just something to break up the monotony. There's no hard feelings."

With the Ravens entering their final week of practice at McDaniel College before heading back to their training complex in Owings Mills, the fights could be taken as a sign that the players are ready to check out of the team hotel and return home.

"Everyone is pissed off," Greisen said. "When guys are competing at full capacity, tempers do flare up. Everyone wants to go home, and there's a lot of testosterone around here. It's part of the game.

"You don't carry it over, though. You get in a fight in practice and you don't take it off the field. Maybe you go and have lunch with the guy. It's just something that's understood."

Although these sorts of physical confrontations would trigger punishments if they happened during an actual game, the Ravens didn't seem to have a problem with the players letting off a little steam. Especially since no one was injured during the exchanges.

"The thing I like is we had a little skirmish out there and the offense got right back to the line and ran a play," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's not like you're going to say to guys, 'Don't fight.' They understand that there's really not a lot of value in it.

"Tempers are going to flare. Guys are competing. Guys went back to work."

INJURY REPORT: Several players didn't practice, including multiple starters.

Not practicing: cornerbacks Chris McAlister (right knee) and Fabian Washington (arm), running backs Willis McGahee (left knee) and P.J. Daniels (shoulder), linebackers Tavares Gooden (leg), Robert McCune (leg), Dan Cody (right foot) and Prescott Burgess (broken wrist), offensive tackles Jared Gaither (sprained right ankle) and Adam Terry (sprained left ankle), tight ends Todd Heap (right calf) and Daniel Wilcox (offseason toe surgery), defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (sprained right medial collateral ligament) and Kelly Talavou (shoulder sprain), nose guard Kelly Gregg (left knee) wide receiver Demetrius Williams (left Achilles' tendon) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (contract dispute).

Gregg is off crutches following arthroscopic knee surgery with his knee heavily wrapped.

Safety Ed Reed remains off-limits to contact.

Ngata's knee is improving rapidly.

Corey Ivy started at cornerback opposite Samari Rolle with McAlister sidelined. Tight end Aaron Walker (left knee) and wide receiver Patrick Carter (dislocated left shoulder) have returned to practice.

Offensive tackle Chad Slaughter experienced a scare when he suffered an apparent right knee injury. However, he limped off the field and was eventually able to return to drills without incident.

QUICK HITS: Running back Allen Patrick took his lumps, getting thrashed by safety Tom Zbikowski and linebacker Brendon A yanbadejo during a blocking drill. Twice, Justin Green stonewalled linebacker Bart Scott's charge. ... Quarterback Troy Smith was intercepted by safety Dawan Landry and sacked four times. ... There were a lot of dropped passes from the wide receivers, including Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Kerry Reed. ... Punter Sam Koch converted field goals from 20 and 35 yards. Matt Stover went 2-for-3 while rookie Piotr Czech missed all four tries. ... Former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich and his wife, Kendel, attended practice as Ehrlich was shown around by a fellow Princeton graduate: Ravens team president Dick Cass. Completing the Ivy League triumvirate was former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Ross Tucker, a Princeton graduate who's now a Sirius NFL Channel radio host.

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


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