Clayton To Miss 'A Few' Games

Wide Receiver To Be '100%' By Opener, Harbaugh Says

August 07, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton will miss "a few preseason games," coach John Harbaugh said Thursday.

Clayton, who was the team's second-leading receiver last season, injured his left hamstring Sunday. The 2005 first-round pick will be sidelined for an extended period because he had "some significant bleeding" in the hamstring, Harbaugh said.

"We're not going to be in any hurry to bring him back," Harbaugh said after Thursday's practice. "We're going to be very safe with" the bleeding.

Clayton, who emphasized earlier in the week that the hamstring wasn't torn, is expected to be fully recovered by the Ravens' Sept. 13 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. He has missed only two games in his four-year career, playing in 57 straight.

"He'll be 100 percent by" the season opener, Harbaugh said. "Way before then."

Demetrius Williams will likely replace Clayton during the preseason. But Williams was sidelined Thursday with a hamstring injury, which elevated Justin Harper to the first-team offense.

Harper, a seventh-round pick in 2008 out of Virginia Tech, was placed on injured reserve last year before the regular season began. He has looked solid in this year's camp, which apparently pushed him in front of Marcus Smith on the depth chart.

"Of course, you'd like to have [Clayton], obviously," Harbaugh said. "We have plenty of receivers to look at, as well."

Clayton, who missed his fourth straight day of practice, was unavailable for comment.

He injured his left hamstring when running an out route Sunday, the day that Derrick Mason returned. When Clayton made a cut on the wet turf, he pulled up limping.

Clayton has a history of problems with his left hamstring.

He has injured it at least five times in five seasons, including three times in the first 16 months of his NFL career. In fact, he injured his hamstring during his first Ravens practice in April 2005, a week after he was taken with the 22nd overall pick in the draft.

Clayton previously said that he didn't have any hamstring problems throughout his career at the University of Oklahoma.

If Clayton misses three preseason games, he would return as early as the end of August. It would still give him over two weeks to get ready for the opener.

"I'd like to be back" immediately, Clayton said earlier this week. "Realistically, I don't know. A couple weeks, I don't know. As it goes."

Last season, Clayton caught 41 passes for 695 yards and three touchdowns. His 17-yard average led the Ravens and was the best of his NFL career.

Clayton is scheduled to make $2 million this season, the final year of his contract. Along with Mason and Williams, he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Baltimore Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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