Ravens' Gaither back at practice, left tackle

Team hopes dramatic weight loss can be reversed

August 02, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Jared Gaither made a surprise return to Ravens training camp Monday after his blood work revealed "it's not a major thing," according to coach John Harbaugh.

Now, the hope is for his weight to come back just as quickly.

Lining up at left tackle, Gaither lasted through the entire practice, where one of his biggest challenges was keeping his pants from falling to the ground. He is currently 311 pounds, which is 29 pounds lighter than last year's playing weight.

Harbaugh hasn't spoken to Gaither about packing on the pounds.

"The only thing we've talked to him about right now is playing," Harbaugh said. "I think the weight thing will take care of itself, one way or another. He's going to lift. He's going to work hard in the weight room. And I'm sure he's going to eat. So, I think the weight will work itself out in the natural way."

Harbaugh added, "The main thing is that he gets his technique right [and] take care of playing the game."

Gaither wasn't made available to reporters because offensive linemen had to lift after practice. But the 6-foot-9 lineman said he has shed so many pounds to relieve the stress on his toe and foot, which had sidelined him for more than a month during the team's offseason workouts.

The dramatic weight loss could affect where Gaither plays. Typically, right tackles are the more physical, mauling-type blockers -- which hardly describes the now-slimmer Gaither. In fact, Gaither is built more like a tight end than a lineman.

In his first practice since Friday, Gaither played on the left side rather than the right. Michael Oher, who played left tackle for nearly the entire offseason, worked mostly at right tackle.

Asked if it would be tough for Gaither to play right tackle at this weight, Harbaugh said, "Well, we'll find out. I don't think so. He's a big, strong guy  and he's got long arms. We'll just put him out there and we'll see."

Gaither wasn't expected to be on the field. He was carted off the field Friday with what was originally diagnosed as back spasms. Gaither underwent blood work after missing two days of practices and was cleared Monday morning.

"I really don't know what was bothering him," Harbaugh said. "We learned that it's nothing major. They did blood work and things like that, and they found out that it's not a major thing, which is what they were taking precautions on."

On the first day of training camp, Gaither said he wasn't disgruntled.

"I would never do that to the organization, and I wouldn't do that to my teammates, to cause a distraction or anything," he said. "If there's ever a problem, I would just go to the coach and discuss it. It's like anything else. But I would never be disgruntled or try to cause any problems or anything like that."

This was a day where the Ravens had more gains than losses. Gaither and Stefan Rodgers (ankle) returned to add depth to the offensive line, and Fabian Washington (knee) and Walt Harris were back at cornerback.

Washington was participating in his first back-to-back practices without a red jersey (signifying no contact). He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in November and missed every offseason practice. Now, he is back running with the first-team defense.

"I've probably been more cautious with him than he's been," Harbaugh said. "The reason we've held him back probably is more me than anything else. He's been pushing every day to do more, and he just refused to wear the red jersey today. And he looked fine, so that's a good sign."

Harris missed three consecutive practices because of a sore Achilles' tendon and is still not at full strength.

"We're pretty thin out there on DBs right now, so they just need us out there," Harris said. "You want to help your compadres out as much as you can because you see them out there working."


Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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