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Ravens notebook: Ravens top three inside LBs could miss game

OWINGS MILLS - Jameel McClain's already been ruled out with a neck injury. Dannell Ellerbe's still in the process of trying to work back from an ankle injury. And while Ray Lewis is eligible to be activated from the injured reserve-designated to return list this week, it's unclear if he's ready to return to game action just two months after undergoing surgery to repair a complete tear of his right triceps.

It's conceivable the Ravens could be without each of their top three inside linebackers for Sunday's matchup with the AFC West leading Broncos and their explosive offense spearheaded by quarterback Peyton Manning.

If Ellerbe and Lewis are both unavailable in addition to McClain, Baltimore will be left with Brendon Ayanbadejo and second-year player Josh Bynes as its likely starters.

Ayanbadejo is a valued special teamer but has started just six games at linebacker during a 10-year NFL career. Bynes, meanwhile, spent the first half of the season on the Ravens' practice squad after being active for just one game last season.

"Obviously, it impacts us," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said of the injuries at inside linebacker. "It'd be ludicrous for me to say that it didn't have some bearing. But also, the guys that go in there have to know what our package is. ... We've tried to put guys in positions, and try to ask them to do things they can do and don't ask them to do things they can't do, but sometimes that limits you."

Ayanbadejo has started each of the last two games in place of the injured Ellerbe. He had seven tackles during last week's loss to the Redskins, but just one of his tackles came fewer than four yards downfield.

Washington running back Alfred Morris finished with 129 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

Bynes had five tackles - and a hit that helped cause a Morris fumble - but also had two missed tackles and a blown coverage that led to a 28-yard completion.

Bynes missed this year's preseason with a back injury, but had a team-high 12 tackles for Baltimore during last year's preseason.

Outside linebacker Albert McClellan has seen time inside as well as a result of the injuries.

"We're just going to go out there and do what we need to for this team," Bynes said. "Of course, I'm not Ray Lewis. B.A. [Ayanbadejo] isn't Ray Lewis or Ellerbe. He's Ayanbadejo. I'm Josh Bynes. That's who we're going to play like."

Ellerbe practiced on a limited basis Thursday, the first time he's practice since injuring his ankle against the Chargers in Week 12.

Lewis was also on the practice field Thursday, but Pees offered no update on Lewis' status for Sunday. Coach John Harbaugh declined to speculate on Lewis' potential availability on Wednesday.

SUGGS MAKING PROGRESS: Injured outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (torn biceps) was a full participant in Thursday's practice and appears on track to play Sunday against the Broncos.

"He has been practicing and seems to be doing fine," Pees said.

Suggs was sidelined at Washington after suffering a torn biceps against the Steelers a week earlier.

"I feel all right," Suggs said Thursday. "I had a week of rest. I feel a little bit better than last week, so yeah, I feel good."

Harbaugh said Monday that Suggs was close to playing against the Redskins, but that the wet conditions played a role in Suggs being inactive.

Suggs indicated Thursday that other factors went into that decision as well.

"I was really unsure, and that was pretty much the deciding factor," Suggs said. "It was wet, [we were facing an] option quarterback, it was a must-win game. There was just too much on the line to chance it, especially with my arm. I thought I would hinder the team by playing last week. It feels good this week, and we'll just have to see come Sunday."

INJURY REPORT: Right guard Marshal Yanda (ankle), safety Bernard Pollard (ribs/chest), fullback Vonta Leach (ankle) and defensive end Pernell McPhee (thigh/groin) all missed practice for a second consecutive day Thursday.

Defensive end Arthur Jones and Ellerbe were both limited participants in Thursday's practice after missing practice Wednesday.

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