Sergio Kindle's first training camp practice for the Ravens appeared to be a successful one.
The outside linebacker, who missed his entire rookie season with a head injury, looked sleek and fast and impressed coach John Harbaugh at the team's facility in Owings Mills on Thursday.
"I think it's great for him as a person," Harbaugh said after practice. "That's the No. 1 thing, to see what he's overcome and to be out there. He looked good. So, obviously, it's one step. I'm just happy for him. He had joy written all over his face. He was even smiling during the conditioning test, he was so happy to be here. He practiced well. So it's going to be fun to see how he progresses. We've got high hopes for him right now."
The coaches and players aren't the only ones who share that view. Ever since the club chose Kindle with its top pick of the 2010 draft, fans have been eager for a glimpse of the size and athleticism that branded the former University of Texas standout as the draft's top 3-4 outside linebacker in a poll of 17 NFL scouts by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
But Kindle, who was selected in the second round, fell down two flights of stairs at a friend's house on July 22 of last year, sustaining a hairline fracture in his skull. He sat out the season, and his future with the Ravens was in doubt.
But his rehabilitation progressed nicely, and Kindle worked during the offseason at a performance facility in Dallas. If he can impress the coaches enough to earn playing time, Kindle could bolster a pass rush that registered a franchise-low 27 sacks last season.
Kindle was not made available to the media after practice Thursday, but inside linebacker Ray Lewis said he was encouraged by Kindle's presence.
"To see him out there running around, and to see the smile on his face just to be back on a football field, there's just nothing more rewarding just being around him," the 12-time Pro Bowler said.
Foxworth makes triumphant return
Like Kindle, Domonique Foxworth also returned to the football field for the first time in more than a year, and the cornerback did not appear to miss a step after sitting out last season with a knee injury.
Foxworth, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee the day before training camp opened last year, broke up three passes during one-on-one drills and did not require a brace or wrap around that knee.
"He didn't seem to be hesitant at all," Harbaugh said. "He seemed confident and looked strong, so that was a pleasant thing to see."
Ed Reed, others absent from practice
Seven-time Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed was absent from practice. A team spokesman said Reed is dealing with a family situation and could report to camp as early as Saturday.
Several notable players also weren't present. That group included linebackers Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden and Dannell Ellerbe, safeties Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura, offensive tackle Oniel Cousins and long snapper Morgan Cox.
Many of those players are restricted and exclusive-rights free agents. All contracts for free agents — restricted and exclusive rights — and players signed after July 25 don't become effective until the new league year, which is Aug. 4. The new league year is established when the players re-certify as a union and ratify the collective bargaining agreement.
The team's restricted free agents are Zbikowski, Nakamura, McClain, Gooden, defensive tackles Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou, Cousins, wide receiver Marcus Smith and running back Jalen Parmele. The exclusive-rights free agents are Ellerbe, Cox, cornerback Cary Williams, offensive lineman Bryan Mattison and running back Curtis Steele.
First day of camp takes toll
No less than 11 players suffered what appeared to be minor injuries during the first day of training camp. Cramps plagued at least seven players, including rookie wide receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss, fellow receiver James Hardy and fullback Jason McKie.
Offensive tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel and linebacker Jason Phillips were carted off the field. Left tackle Andre Ramsey pulled up after a play with a right calf injury, and rookie wide receiver Terrell Zachery had a bag of ice wrapped around his left knee.
Several veterans were present, but did not practice. The most notable was four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who wore a wrap around his right hamstring, but did not appear to hobble or limp.
Other players who watched from the sideline included left guard Ben Grubbs (offseason ankle surgery), wide receiver/kick returner David Reed, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and offensive tackle Ramon Harwood.