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Late For Work 7/25: Time For Courtney Upshaw To Seize Opportunity

Updates on Steinbach tryout? Birk shows off improved legs. Webb pokes fun at Rice’s size.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 at 9:18 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Time For Upshaw To Seize Opportunity

If you’re wondering whether it was a big deal that top Ravens draft pick Courtney Upshaw needed a second try to pass his conditioning test, the widely accepted consensus so far is that it’s not.

“Upshaw has since practiced with Ravens so no need for concern,” tweeted The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “He’s ready to go.”

“It’s not the greatest sign in the world that he didn’t pass his conditioning test to start training camp on his first try,” wrote NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal. “It’s also not too big a deal. He passed it on his second try.”

As can be seen in this awesome video of my colleague Ryan Mink struggling to pass a mock conditioning test, the process involves six 150-yard sprints run in 25-yard intervals. Depending on a player’s position, he has to make certain times for each sprint and will then get a breather (70 seconds for offensive/defensive linemen) to rest in between runs.

If you don’t make the designated time by even one second on just one of the six 150-yards sprints, you fail the test.

And that will occur from time to time.

“A couple of guys will learn their lesson the hard way, as far as the conditioning test and practicing at our pace,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

“That kind of stuff happens all the time all around the league,” added The Sun’s Peter Schmuck.

So why was Upshaw’s test talked about so much around the web yesterday?

“Maybe in some other NFL training camp, it wouldn’t have been particularly newsworthy … but it drew special notice at the Under Armour Performance Center on Monday because of the added responsibility that Upshaw will have to assume in the extended absence of NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs,” Schmuck explained.

Suggs will be out indefinitely this season with his Achilles tendon injury. The outside linebacker insists he will return to the field in 2012, but there’s also a good chance that he doesn’t make it back at all, says Schmuck.

Thus, the Ravens don’t have the luxury of bringing Upshaw along slowly as they traditionally like to do with rookies.

With the Ravens having to move both Upshaw and fellow outside linebacker Paul Krugerup the depth chart so quickly, Schmuck highlights the importance of both men “seizing this opportunity.”

Harbaugh appears to agree.

“There is a lot to it, because it’s an opportunity to start for the Ravens,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to start in the National Football League. Our goal is to be the best defense in football. That’s not going to change, and those guys have an opportunity to be a huge part of that, so, yeah, it’s a huge responsibility. But I don’t think it would be any different at any other positions. Any one of those 11 spots is a pretty big deal.”

What’s The Update On The Steinbach Tryout?

I scanned the web looking for reports on how the Eric Steinbach workout went yesterday.

Here’s all I really found as of this morning – a tweet from Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson saying he is hearing it “went well.”

But other teams are interested in Steinbach, said Wilson without naming anyone specifically. So, it’s a “fluid situation.”

With 10 years of NFL experience, Steinbach would compete with Williams for the starting left guard position. But both are what ESPN’s Jamison Hensley calls “short-term solutions.” Their presence would allow Osemele time to develop and ease into a starting role down the line.

Harbaugh seemed high on Steinbach after the workout.

“Eric Steinbach is a heck of a player,” he said. “I don’t know where we stand, but we’re going to look for any good player we can at any time.”

Birk Shows Off Improved Legs

Check out those gorgeous stems.

OK, “gorgeous” might be a stretch, but 36-year-old center Matt Birk showed off his new and improved legs in front of media after yesterday’s training camp practice for quarterbacks, rookies and injured players. He’s feeling pretty darn good after undergoing surgery to repair varicose veins this offseason.

The second-oldest player on the team behind linebacker Ray Lewis, Birk joked that his legs look so good that he’s fielding modeling offers.

On a more serious note, the procedure has made him feel more optimistic that he won’t suffer any setback during this season’s grueling 16-game schedule.

“I feel better,” Birk said. “[The doctors] say it’ll help me feel better during the season. My leg won’t get as fatigued. So it’s a good thing.”

Webb Pokes Fun At Rice’s Size

Lardarius Webb got camp started with a little fun yesterday.

He took pictures of some Ray Rice “gear” around the training room, mocking the running back’s short stature.

“Ray Rice practice jersey, hot tub floats, and gameday socks! #inthebuilding,” Webb tweeted with the pictures below.

I have to admit that even I feel like I tower over the 5-foot-8 Rice when passing by him at the team facility. That’s especially when I’m wearing heels and easily cross the 5-foot-11 threshold.

Get Used To Seeing Tomlin

Ravens fans should get used to seeing Mike Tomlin’s face over the next several years.

The Steelers announced a three-year extension with their head coach yesterday, which means he’ll be in Pittsburgh until 2016.

Based on his track record, that isn’t particularly good news for the purple and black.

At only 40 years old, Tomlin has already taken the Steelers to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons, including the Super Bowl twice. And surprise, surprise, he’s tied with our own Coach Harbaugh as the winningest active NFL coach.

“When a player goes down with an injury, one of Tomlin’s favorite lines is: ‘The standard is the standard,’” wrote Hensley.

“That standard in the Tomlin era has been excellence.”

With Harbaugh currently slated to be in Baltimore through the 2014 season, this should make for an excellent head-coaching rivalry.

Quick Hits

  • Hensley ranked Rice as the fourth-best player in the AFC North. “You can certainly make a strong argument for Rice being at the top of this list. He’s been the NFL’s most consistent all-around running back over the past three seasons,” the blogger wrote. “So, why is Rice ranked fourth and not higher? There are three Hall of Fame-caliber players who are entering the prime of their careers in the division. I wouldn’t necessarily put Rice in that class just yet.” [ESPN]
  • @adbrandt: Joe Flacco: “I’m not thinking about my contract situation.”  Translation: “I can’t stop thinking about my contract situation.” [Twitter]
  • @vleach44: Just landed back in Baltimore #Ravens #trainingcamp
  • @Crushboy31: Eating pizza with the family and yes I know it’s bad but I got to have it! Tmrw morning I’m turning into a mad man for 7 months…
  • @vleach44: u r a fat boy @Crushboy31
  • @Crushboy31: @vleach44 shut it and settle lol
  • Ouch … @ JasonLaCanfora: Bengals 1st round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has told teammates he suffered an injury in knee area that could cause him to miss much of camp
  • Ed Reed has to prove his worth this year. [ESPN]

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