Justin Bannan didn’t make the call to Baltimore. The friends he collected in the past four years as a Raven reached out to him before he could pick up the phone.
“Those guys have already called me,” Bannan said. “They’re funny, they’re good friends of mine and they’re friends I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
The Broncos bring Bannan back to M&T Bank Stadium — where he contributed to 23 wins as a Raven — for the first time since he signed with Denver in the offseason.
Bannan said he’s happy to visit old teammates, but his first priority is to leave town with the team’s second consecutive road win.
“It’ll be good to see them,” Bannan said. “But when it’s time to strap it up, it’s time for business.”
Bannan left Baltimore on good terms with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and the rest of the club after deciding to ply his trade in Colorado — the state where he played his college football — with an opportunity to start.
“I could tell you it’s no personal grudge match,” Bannan said. “It’s kind of hard to go back there and say, ‘I’m going to go get revenge,’ to guys that have always been good to you in a place where you’ve always had good experiences.”
Harbaugh’s respect for his former player came out in a conference call on Wednesday.
“We love him,” the coach said. “He was a huge part of what we were doing here. We were very disappointed to lose him. Obviously it was a great opportunity for him out there to expand and be a leader and he’s done that.”
Bannan’s new locker room mates can look to him for advice on matching up against the Ravens.
When he watches game tape this week, the players he sees on film will reinforce his first-hand knowledge of the opponent’s personnel. Four years of memories from practices and games now serve as part of the scouting report.
“We talked to him a little bit about some of the things that they do,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. “He kind of confirmed some of the things we thought about their scheme.”
The defensive lineman said he’s more comfortable discussing the tendencies of certain players than giving bigger picture advice.
He doesn’t want to tip off the team to components of Baltimore’s system that aren’t relevant a year after his stay.
“The last thing you want to do is say you think they might do this, but really they’re going to do something else,” Bannan said.
As a former member of the team, Bannan acknowledged the physical reputation the Ravens have built around the league, including an offense working to establish an identity “more complementary to the defense.”
He expects a battle in the trenches.
“I think this is going to be the most physical offensive line we go against so far this year, without a doubt,” he said. “They’re grinders, they’re gritty, and it’s going to be a tough game from start to finish.”
Cornerback Champ Bailey (non-injury) and fullback Spencer Larsen (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Cornerback Andre’ Goodman (thigh), running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) were limited in practice.
For the Ravens, tackle Jared Gaither (back), linebacker Tavares Gooden (shoulder), defensive end Paul Kruger (knee) and wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth (foot) did not practice. Linebacker Edgar Jones (thigh) was limited, and tight end Todd Heap (shoulder) and running backs Le’Ron McLain (shoulder) and Ray Rice (knee) participated in full practice.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are photos from today’s practice: