The Ravens have already made a final judgment call on starting inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and tight end Ed Dickson, officially ruling them out Friday for the second consecutive game.
Now, they still have an important decision to make regarding Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs’ status for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.
Dealing with a torn right biceps sustained in the fourth quarter of a loss last Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Suggs practiced on a limited basis for the second day in a row and is listed as questionable.
Suggs hasn’t aggravated the injury, but determining if he’ll play Sunday remains an unresolved issue despite some encouraging signs so far. It's expected to hinge on how Suggs fares during warmups, but he's determined to play despite the injury, his second serious one this year after making it back from a partially torn right Achilles tendon suffered in late April that required surgery.
“It held up real well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He practiced for two days partially. As far as if you are asking me what he’s going to do, I really don’t know yet. We’ll just have to see where it goes on Sunday.”
With Ellerbe sidelined with a right foot and ankle injury and Dickson not playing due to a hyperextended right knee, special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo and tight end Dennis Pitta will start in their place again.
“I’ve been on the backburner for most of the season, so it feels good to get my feet wet,” said Ayanbadejo, who has six tackles in relief of Ellerbe over the past two games. “It feels good to get back in the mix. If called upon, I’m ready to protect and serve.”
Respect for Morris
While dynamic rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III deservedly garners most of the attention, the engine of the Redskins' top-ranked running game is the rookie who shares the backfield with him.
Rookie running back Alfred Morris has rushed for 1,106 yards and 13 touchdowns and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
The sixth-round draft pick from Florida Atlantic has been so effective that he reminds Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard of Houston Texans star runner Arian Foster.
I respect him, I really do," Pollard said. "The guy is a very hard runner. One thing he understands is a four-yard run. He's going to run it hard. I respect him. He's buying in.
"It took Arian Foster a year to buy in and you see where he is now. They're different runners, but I respect him so much. I think he can be at the top of his game like Arian."
The 5-foot-9, 218-pounder is tied for third in the NFL in rushing yards with Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin.
"The guy runs angry," Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "He runs hard, he runs behind his pads. He’s been a force. The guy has really been a good back, and he runs hard.”
R. Lewis, J. Smith getting healthier
Although cornerback Jimmy Smith practiced without incident this week on a limited basis, he’s not expected to play Sunday.
The former first-round draft pick is listed as doubtful ,but showed enough progress that he could potentially return the following week against the Denver Broncos.
"Jimmy made progress," Harbaugh said. "He's out there practicing. Did a nice job, moved around pretty well, broke up some scar tissue and things like that. That's really important. He did a good job."
Injured middle linebacker Ray Lewis isn’t eligible to return until the Broncos game as he remains on the injured reserve-designated to return list with a surgically-repaired right triceps. Harbaugh said Lewis has maintained his conditioning during his convalescence.
“He moved around really well,” Harbaugh said. “You know Ray is going to stay in great shape. It’s not that long since he’s played, so he moved around really well. It was fun to have him out there. I know I was uplifted by it. It was great to see him out there.”
All week, Ravens practice squad quarterback Dennis Dixon has done his best impersonation of Griffin as he called upon his experience running a similar offense at Oregon.
“Yeah, it’s something I’m accustomed to,” Dixon said. “I am a little bit taller than him, but we have similar games. I had a lot of fun and I gave them a lot of input.”
By all accounts, Dixon was a hit.
“Dennis has done a great job,” Harbaugh said. “He understands the reads, the timing of it, the footwork and those things. It was a big plus for our defense. He’s been into it all week.”
Working his way back
It was a modest return for Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee.
Out of the lineup for the previous four games due to right knee and thigh injuries, McPhee was back on the field for 13 snaps and had one tackle against the Steelers working in at left end behind Arthur Jones. McPhee had two arthroscopic knee surgeries prior to training camp.
"I'm ready for more," said McPhee, who's been limited to 17 tackles and a half-sack after recording six sacks last season as a rookie. "I'm ready to go out and compete. Whatever they need from me, I'm ready."
Outside linebacker Paul Kruger and offensive tackle Michael Oher weren’t fined by the league for unnecessary roughness penalties against the Steelers, according to NFL spokesman Corry Rush. … Rookie cornerback Asa Jackson (shoulder) and cornerback Chris Johnson (strained hamstring) are questionable. … Ravens free safety Ed Reed got a helping hand from former University of Miami teammate Santana Moss, the Redskins’ veteran wide receiver, in obtaining extra tickets for Sunday. “Yeah, he took care of me,” Reed said. … The Ravens are being mindful of the Redskins’ speed at receiver, especially Pierre Garcon. “They’ve very fast,” Pollard said. “It’s going to be a track meet.”
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