Notebook: Chris Henry's death shocking

OWINGS MILLS – The somber feelings stemming from the tragic death of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry reverberated through the Baltimore Ravens' locker room. It hit wide receiver Kelley Washington and quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson particularly hard given their background with Henry in Cincinnati.

"It's definitely a shock to everybody," said Washington, who played with Henry for two seasons. "He was a young man who, it seemed, had his life turned around for the better for him, for his family and his career. For something tragic like this to happen caught a lot of people off-guard.

"It just really wakes you up, not just as a professional athlete, but as someone in relationships and as a man. It's definitely tough."

Henry died at the age of 26 Wednesday from serious head injuries after falling off the bed of a pickup truck in Charlotte, N.C., following a domestic dispute with his fiancée.

He was pronounced dead at Carolina Medical Center at 6:36 a.m.

His last NFL game before being placed on injured reserve with a broken and dislocated forearm was against the Ravens on Nov. 8 in Cincinnati.

Washington learned about Henry's condition through text messages from former teammates.000

"I just thought it was a regular car accident as I was talking with people from Cincinnati," Washington said. "Of course, they had the news that it was something more serious than a car accident. It was something that kind of touched everybody, and especially me, in the NFL family."

Henry caught four passes for 112 yards against the Ravens this season and was always a deep threat against Baltimore.

"The NFL has some tremendous wide receivers, and he was one of them," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "He's one of those guys that you could not slip up on or he's going to beat you. It's a really, really sad note. We all addressed that this morning. We feel very, very sad for his family. That's just a bad deal."

Added Washington: "To this day, he's the best deep-ball route runner in the NFL. Chris Henry, by far, is the best receiver to go get the fade or the deep post."

Henry had a long history of off-field problems with several suspensions.

His last conviction of a crime was in 2006 and he had drawn praise for making progress as a football player and for his growing maturity. He was known as much for his trouble as his talent.

"We would always encourage him no matter what he did, if he got in trouble with the law or came into meetings late," Washington said. "We tried to be an older brother to him. I think people got a bad impression of him. A lot times he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."

INJURY UPDATE: Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was downgraded to not practicing Thursday after participating on a limited basis Wednesday.

It's unclear if he has suffered a setback to his sprained medial collateral ligament.

Two starters returned to practice on a limited basis: center Matt Birk (neck) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained right ankle).

Wide receiver Derrick Mason (finger) and tight end L.J. Smith (sprained ankle) were limited.

Smith didn't practice Wednesday.

The Ravens remain thin at wide receiver with Mark Clayton (knee, hamstring) not practicing for the second day in a row after missing the team's 48-3 win over the Detroit Lions.

Washington didn't practice, too, but expressed confidence that he'll be back by Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.

"Yeah, I'm progressing every single day and expect to go out there and contribute," Washington said. "I expect to be out there on Sunday. I'm just getting ready to go out there and play.

If Washington and Clayton are out, the Ravens are preparing to go with Mason and Demetrius Williams as the starters. They signed Maurice Price to the practice squad on Wednesday.

"I'm confident with the guys we've got," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "You want Mark Clayton in there and he looks good to me. One of the things about Mark is, he's tough, and he's going to do everything to be ready to play, and my guess is he will be. One thing about our receivers is that they're a tough-minded group, and we like our guys."

Williams caught two passes for 45 yards against the Lions.

"I need to go in there focused and ready to make plays," he said. "I wouldn't say I turned it around. They have told me all season to be ready. Basically, it's paying off now."

Cameron said that Williams is likely to play a lot this week.

"The guy has just stayed ready," Cameron said. "When his opportunity came, he made the most of it. This week, will be another great opportunity for him. He's practiced well all year long, he's stayed healthy and I think he's got a good feel for what we're trying to do.

"You keep telling guys, ‘We're going to need you and we're counting on you.' I think it's reflected in the way he's playing. He will play significantly, there's no question."

Also not practicing: free safety Ed Reed (strained groin, foot), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (foot), safety K.J. Gerard (thigh), linebacker Jarret Johnson (knee, back, left shoulder) and defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (back).

If Gaither is out again, rookie Michael Oher will start at left tackle and Oniel Cousins would start at right tackle.

QUICK HITS: Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (calf) and linebacker Jamar Williams (ankle) didn't practice. … Cornerback Zach Bowman (illness), defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee), offensive tackle Orlando Pace (groin) and cornerback Charles Tillman (back) participated fully. … Quarterback Joe Flacco acknowledged that wind is the weather element that bothers him the most. "At the end of the day, it's probably wind mostly," Flacco said. "They do a pretty good job of keeping the balls dry. When you're out on the field, it's not really that cold. You can do a good job of keeping yourself warm. At the end of the day, it's probably win, I would say, the most." … Mason needs one more catch to reach 850 receptions for his career. He would become the 16th player to reach that milestone. "I think that's important to him, I would think it's important to him how his teammates feel about him," Cameron said. "If you talk to anybody who has every played with him, they have tremendous respect for him. You don't control the public opinion. Public opinion, as well all know, is not always right. I think he's a great player and he's one, if not the greatest, receivers I've been around." … Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said he's hopeful that Reed will play again this season. And he praised Tom Zbikowski, who has replaced Reed in the starting lineup. "When a guy hasn't played much, you'll see great improvement from Game 1 to Game 2," Mattison said. "I think that's what you saw in that last game. He started to feel a lot more comfortable. All of the sudden now he sees the obligation to the team whereas before it's like, ‘OK, if I get my chance, I've got to go in and do it.' Well, Tom now knows that, ‘Hey, you're the starter and everybody's counting on you.' That's what he did."

Ravens Insider Top Stories