Cornerback Jimmy Smith and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw are the Ravens' top picks in the past two drafts, but they have more in common than just that.
As most of their younger teammates are practicing every day and trying either to make the team or solidify their roles, Smith and Upshaw have spent a good part of training camp on the sidelines.
Both have returned to practice — Upshaw missed seven practices with a right shoulder injury and Smith missed four with back spasms — but they have mostly been confined to individual drills. And after sitting out last Thursday's preseason opener, neither player knows if they'll be able to take part in Friday's game against the Detroit Lions.
"It's not really my focus," said Smith, the Ravens' first-round pick in 2011. "My focus is taking care of my body. It's a bummer that I can't go out there and compete every day, but at the same time, my body is what's really important. They need me for September, not the preseason."
Smith, who was slowed by a high ankle sprain in his rookie season, did acknowledge that the timing of the back injury isn't good as he was expected to compete with Cary Williams for a starting job in training camp.
Upshaw, meanwhile, was penciled in as the starter in one of the outside linebacker spots, but he's missing out on some key repetitions. Albert McClellan has been working with the first team in Upshaw's absence.
"I'm not really feeling any pressure," said Upshaw, a second-round pick this past April. "It's just all these guys are here fighting and I knew that coming in after they drafted me. But they just want me to get back to fight with them. Honestly. I just want to get back on the field. It's not even about competing with [McClellan]. I just love the game so much and I want to be out there playing the game of football."
Upshaw, who has his shoulder heavily wrapped, said that he's still feeling some soreness, but he's hoping to get full clearance to return by Friday's game.
Kemoeatu pushing Cody
For much of practice the past two days, veteran Ma'ake Kemoeatu has been playing nose tackle with the first team, leaving Terrence Cody, last year's starter at the position, working with the second team.
"I would say that Kemo's pushing for a starting job," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. "He's done that really since training camp has started. He's in great shape, and he's playing extremely well."
Kemoeatu, 34, signed with the Ravens in May after sitting out all of last season. During his time away from the game, he ballooned to over 400 pounds. But he's lost about 70 pounds and has impressed coaches during training camp.
"I still have a long road ahead of me as far as working toward what has to be done to get on the team," said Kemoeatu, who started his career with the Ravens, playing with them from 2002 to 2005. "I could always get quicker, faster and stronger. Haloti [Ngata] has set a standard on how a Ravens defensive lineman should play, and I'm trying to keep up with him."
Loss of preseason annoys Dickson
A lot of NFL players view training camp and the preseason as a necessary evil and welcome the beginning of the regular season. But Ravens tight end Ed Dickson — who is expected to miss the remainder of the preseason after spraining his right shoulder Thursday night — is not happy about joining Dennis Pitta (broken right hand) as observers until the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.
"It's very frustrating because these reps in camp, that's where you gel," Dickson said. "We're glad we got the offseason and there wasn't a lockout. We can build off that, and we're just going to pick it up wherever we come in. We've been running. I'm helping Dennis out now. Me and Dennis are helping each other to stay in shape so that when we get back out there, we're not going to miss a beat."
Dickson was injured after catching a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco in the second quarter Thursday.
"When it happened, it was a freak accident," Dickson recalled. "It was a routine catch in the end zone, [but] I knew something was up because it started to burn. When I got to the sideline, they took me back. I'm just happy the MRI showed up negative, and I just want to get it stronger than it ever was."
Good turnout at Navy
An announced crowd of 20,335 attended the open training camp practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. That barely surpassed the announced 20,324 that attended the Aug. 4 practice at M&T Bank Stadium.
"This is a beautiful stadium. It's a beautiful town," Harbaugh said. "It's just great to be here."
The Ravens' third and final open practice of training camp will take place next Sunday at Stevenson University, but the team has already distributed all of its free tickets for the practice.