On Friday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t sound optimistic that Matt Birk would be available for Thursday night’s preseason opener at the Atlanta Falcons. But the 36-year-old center said Saturday that he is holding out hope that he might be able to play Thursday.
“I hope I don’t” miss the game, Birk said after the team’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. “We talked today, and although you can’t predict the future, I hope I don’t. My goal is to be out there.”
Birk confirmed Harbaugh’s diagnosis that back spasms have shelved him for the past six days. But Birk said the spasms aren’t serious enough to warrant major concern.
“Nothing big, nothing structural,” he said. “Just working to get it calmed down.”
Birk, who is in the midst of his 15th training camp in the NFL, has been dogged by health issues. Birk has dealt with neck, elbow and knee injuries in three seasons with the Ravens, but has not missed a game.
In 2010, he played despite a swollen knee that had to be drained at least once a week. He sat out a good portion of last year’s preseason after undergoing surgery on his left knee. Birk was absent from a few minicamps this past offseason after undergoing surgery to repair varicose veins in his legs.
Birk conceded that absorbing another injury can be taxing mentally.
“It is frustrating on a couple fronts,” he said. “You work really hard in the offseason to get yourself ready, and I take a lot of pride in my offseason work. When something like this happens, sure, it’s a little disappointing. But more importantly, it’s frustrating not being out with the team and working hard and grinding through it with everybody else. But that’s part of the game. Every day, I just do everything I can, everything they tell me to do to a ‘T.’ I know I’ll be better soon.”