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Ravens injuries lingering — but don't tell the Texans

The  Ravens were hoping that all of their injured players would return after the bye week ready to face a Houston Texans team that will likely be without arguably their top offensive (Andre Johnson) and defensive (Mario Williams) players.

That doesn't appear as though it will happen, but the Texans will probably have to wait until Sunday to find out for sure.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh interrupted a group interview with rookie Jimmy Smith to remind both the rookie cornerback and reporters that the team will not be disclosing too much information about individual playing statuses.

"Hey, hey, hey … no you're not doing it," Harbaugh said after entering the locker room and seeing reporters surrounding the first-round draft pick. "You're not asking him about his injury. He's not telling you about his injury situation. We don't comment about his injuries."

Later, a much-more jovial Harbaugh came into the media workroom at the Ravens training complex to tell reporters that he understood that they had a job to do. He also joked that he gave everybody "something to write," on an otherwise quiet Monday.

But the point remains: The Ravens, who had seven players out with injuries for their 34-17 victory over the New York Jets in their last game, still have a lot of players whose availability is unclear, and that doesn't figure to change much before Sunday.

"We must be closer to determining those guys, but I really haven't gotten anything definitive," Harbaugh said. "As a coach, you hope for something Monday that would be somewhat definitive and there's nothing there. We're in a wait-and-see mode. We're probably not going to give away much anyway as the week goes on, but as of right now, I don't know who is going to be back. A couple of guys practiced, a couple of guys didn't. We'll just have to see where they're at."

Here is a brief look at the status of the injured Ravens:

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (high left ankle sprain): Smith hasn't played since he went down while covering the first kickoff of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has made steady progress, but Harbaugh indicated that the rookie is "not there yet, that's for sure." Smith agreed with his coach's assertion.

"I'm optimistic about everything, but realistically, I doubt it," said Smith when asked if he thinks he'll be ready to play Sunday, which was initially his target date. "Today, I got on the field and I ran for the first time. But like I said, it's not 100 percent — it's not even 80 percent there."

Wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle): Evans has missed the past two games with an injury that has been bothering him since training camp. He was a limited participant in today's practice and he plans to ramp up his activity leading up to the game.

"It wasn't 100 percent, obviously," Evans said. "It was some pain, but I was able to at least get out there and run around for a little bit, and just put it to work to see how it reacts. Today wasn't a day to stress it all the way out. It was just more to introduce it to some stress and see how it reacts in the next few days."

Wide receiver/kick returner David Reed (left shoulder strain): After missing the previous two games, Reed returned to practice today, calling it a "huge step."

"It's big," Reed said. "I just can't wait to get back out on the field and play again."

Guard Ben Grubbs (right toe): The Ravens' right guard has missed three straight games, but he did some individual drills in practice today and he's getting closer and closer to returning.

"I feel better than I have felt in the past, so I think I'll be out there," Grubbs said. "Last week when I tried individual [drills] — I think it was Wednesday — the pain level was just too high for me to keep going. Today I was able to get through the whole individual period, and I probably could have done some team drills, but I was just trying to be smart. It was my first day out there. It was a good day. It wasn't great, it wasn't bad. The big question is how will my foot react from today? If it doesn't have any more pain, then I think I'll be all right."

Safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion): Zbikowski was the team's only new injury coming out of the Jets game. He hasn't been cleared to resume practicing.

"He is a concussion situation," Harbaugh said. "I would like to be able to have an answer for you, not that I would necessarily tell you, but with concussions, I have no idea. Until the doctor says he is cleared, you just go, 'OK, see you when you are cleared.' "

Safety Haruki Nakamura (right PCL injury in knee): Nakamura has made "a lot of progress" since he down while on punt coverage in the Ravens' 37-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Week Three. Expected to be out anywhere from two to four weeks, Nakamura participated some in practice Monday, though he's clearly exercising caution.

"I didn't really do any explosion stuff. It was just kind of getting more into a groove, getting back into the pace of football," Nakamura said. "It felt pretty good, but at the same time, I wasn't going to go out there and try to blow it out testing it. We'll see the next couple of days, but it felt pretty good.

There's always a chance, but it's all about setbacks. If I had a setback after all the work I've done, I'd be really frustrated. I'm going to be patient with it."

Cornerback Chris Carr and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (both hamstring injuries): Carr has missed two of the Ravens' four games, while Ellerbe didn't play against the Jets. Both said last week that they were optimistic that they'll be able to return for the Texans game. However, they weren't in the team's locker room while the media was present today, so their status is unclear.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Ken Murray and Edward Lee contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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