Ravens strong-side outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil's bruised and sprained left ankle has cooperated well enough that he practiced for the past two days on a limited basis.
It's an encouraging sign for Dumervil heading into Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions.
Dumervil was officially listed as questionable, along with rookie safety Brynden Trawick (ankle). Starting cornerback Lardarius Webb (abdominal) is probable, meaning the team is as healthy as it’s been this season.
“I would say so,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Saturday after practice. “If you look at the course of the season and even last year, this is probably as healthy as we’ve been.”
Dumervil was sidelined for the Ravens' 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings after getting hurt against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving.
Having Dumervil back could provide a boost to the Ravens' languishing pass rush, which has generated five quarterback hits and no sacks in the past two games. Dumervil leads the Ravens with 9.5 sacks, followed by rush linebacker Terrell Suggs' nine sacks, but Suggs has no sacks in the past five games.
The Ravens need to create as much pressure as possible against the Lions’ second-ranked offense, led by the passing tandem of quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
“Obviously, we’d like to get sacks,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think you’d be surprised, though, how many times we actually hit the quarterback. When you watch the film, we may not be getting a sack if the ball is coming out quick, and there’s no way a guy can do that. We’re getting quite a few hits.
“Elvis has been out, and that’s been a little bit of a factor, but the truth is the ball is coming out a lot quicker in these last two games. That’s smart football by their part.”
Pees said teams have been used maximum-protection blocking schemes against the Ravens during the past two games.
“If you notice, whenever they put two or three people back in the backfield, you’re getting seven-man protection,” Pees said. “So on a four-man rush, you’ve got seven blocking four. I think we’ve made people close it in a little bit.
“At the same time, we need to do a better job. We had some opportunities, and we just didn’t quite get there. We need to improve on that.”
Harbaugh has strong roots in Michigan, where he grew up and graduated from Pioneer High in Ann Arbor. He later coached at Western Michigan, where his father, Jack Harbaugh was the head coach.
His wife’s family is from the Detroit area, too, and Harbaugh said he acquired as many tickets as possible for his relatives.
“We had to cut it off,” Harbaugh said. “It got a little more expensive than I was hoping for.”
While doling out tickets, Harbaugh had one requirement: No blue clothing.
“They have to wear purple, yes,” he said. “That’s a rule. The whole crowd is going to be blue. There will be some purple there, you can count on that.”
Tight end Ed Dickson has maintained focus on the Ravens’ remaining games, not his pending free agent status.
The former third-round draft pick is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Dickson’s play has improved recently after a rough start to the season, in which he dropped several passes.
“I can’t think about the future right now,” said Dickson, who caught his first touchdown since 2011 last Sunday against the Vikings. “I’m looking to bring the organization and the city of Baltimore another championship. After I pick up my head and say I did my best to bring home a championship, then I can think about my contract.
“I’m healthy and my best football is yet to come. Everybody knows the areas I succeed on and the areas I can still work on. I’m a student of the game.”
The Lions’ secondary is banged-up, with cornerback Chris Houston (toe) and backup cornerback Darius Slay (knee) not practicing all week and listed as doubtful. Slay had arthroscopic knee surgery last week. The Lions have just four healthy cornerbacks: Rashean Mathis, Bill Bentley, Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood. If Houston doesn’t play, Mathis and Green would start with Bentley operating as the nickel. … Running back Reggie Bush (calf) practiced for the second day in a row and is questionable, along with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder). Five players are probable for Detroit: Johnson (knee), safety Louis Delmas (knee), defensive end Israel Idonije (knee), offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle (elbow) and safety John Wendling (illness).