Matt Birk optimistic that he'll be able to start Sunday

Center Matt Birk has fully participated in the Ravens’ last three days of practice – a promising sign that the 14-year veteran will start in Sunday’s season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Birk, who underwent surgery on his left knee on Aug. 3, declined to put a percentage on the knee’s strength and stability, but he sounded optimistic that he would suit up against the Steelers.

“I don’t like to do the percentages or anything,” he said. “I’ll keep treating it and [get] it to feel as good as it can on Sunday. And then we’ll just give it everything we’ve got.”

Birk will get the unenviable task of blocking nose tackle Casey Hampton, a 6-foot-1, 325-pound five-time Pro Bowler who can disrupt a run or collapse a pocket.

Birk said dealing with Hampton is no different from taking on any other nose tackle in the NFL.

“Every game’s hard, every game’s physical,” Birk said. “When you play offensive line, it doesn’t matter who you play. Every Monday morning, you’re going to wake up and be as sore as heck.”

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