Jimmy Smith and Albert McClellan return to the field

Cornerback Jimmy Smith and Albert McClellan made their long-awaited returns to the field following injuries.

The Baltimore Ravens saw two familiar faces on the practice field during the second day of mandatory minicamp. Jimmy Smith and Albert McClellan returned after suffering season-ending injuries last year.

McClellan suffered a non-contact ACL injury just before the start of last season and the veteran linebacker missed all 16 games. He’s been seldom mentioned in the linebacker discussion this offseason but McClellan is a versatile defender and one the Ravens’ special teams captains. Coach Jerry Rosburg will be delighted to have one of his leaders back in that department.

Smith is the most notable return just over six months since tearing his Achilles tendon in a Week 13 matchup against the Detroit Lions. He was one pace from an All-Pro season before going down with the injury. Talent has never been the question for Smith but rather health. He’s played two full 16-game regular seasons just twice in seven seasons. With a $15.3 million cap hit in 2018, it’s vital Smith return fully healthy. Let’s just hope he stays away from PEDs, a problem that slapped him with a four-game suspension following his injury in December.

The Ravens finish up mandatory minicamp on Thursday and by all accounts, no major injuries have been reported. That’s fantastic news for a team that was devastated by the injury bug last season. Players dropped like flies and the roster lost valuable starters and depth in the process.

It’s a win-now mentality for the Ravens heading into a new season. The league’s leading turnover defense returns virtually of its starters with the addition of rookie talent. Brandon Carr provides a No. 2 corner option with Smith’s recovery process still ongoing but a return to the field this early is certainly promising.

Even safety Eric Weddle was surprised, calling Smith half wolverine.

Smith will look to recreate last season’s success en route to a full recovery. The AFC North has only gotten more talented in the pass-catching department and Smith will be needed more than ever in the secondary this season.