Carroll County Times

Ravens Notebook: Lewis getting closer to return to lineup

OWINGS MILLS - Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis returned to practice Wednesday, less than two months after undergoing surgery to repair a complete tear of his right triceps.

He is eligible to return to the lineup when Baltimore hosts the Broncos next week.

"He [can't] play on Sunday, and I don't know if he'd be ready to play physically anyway," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "This will be part of his rehab, and we'll just see how he does. When the time comes and he's ready to play, we'll let you know. We're not going to spring it on you ... but that's not something that's going to happen this week, and I don't know when that's going to happen."

Lewis was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return after injuring his triceps during the Ravens' win against the Cowboys Oct. 14.

Under the NFL's new designated to return exemption for players put on injured reserve, a player can return to practice six weeks after being placed on injured reserve and to game action after eight weeks.

Lewis was eligible to return to practice last Thursday.

"How much farther it goes is on Ray," fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain said. "But having him here, and having his veteran leadership here [in practice], means a lot for this organization ... Anytime you have Ray Lewis to give information to any of the players, it's significant."

Lewis' injury typically involves a four to six month recovery, but the 37-year-old is back on the practice field just more than a month and a half after getting hurt against the Cowboys.

"I'm excited because he's worked very hard," Baltimore running back Ray Rice said. "I tease him all the time about him being a modern day Superman, but there's only one person that could have pulled off what he's doing.

"He's not doing it for his name to be in the paper about him coming back. He's doing it solely because he loves this organization, loves his guys and loves being at war with us. He's our general. As he goes, we go."

Lewis didn't talk to the media Wednesday, but issued a statement through the Ravens' media relations department that was released shortly prior to the start of Wednesday's practice.

"I'm making progress and will practice some today, but the story shouldn't be about me right now," Lewis said in the statement. "We're playing the Redskins Sunday, and I am not eligible to play. If I can help prepare my team in some way for that game, I will. When I know I will play in a game, or when I play in game, I will say more then."

SMITH RETURNS: Cornerback Jimmy Smith also returned to practice Wednesday, although there's still no set timetable for his return to the lineup.

Smith is just three weeks removed from surgery to repair a sports hernia.

"Jimmy Smith continues to get better, so he will be moving around a little this week," Harbaugh said Monday. "We'll see how that goes."

ELLERBE, DICKSON MISS PRACTICE: Middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (sprained knee) were both non-participants in Wednesday's practice.

Both players were injured during Baltimore's win against the Chargers two weeks ago and were both sidelined for this past weekend's loss to the Steelers.

Ellerbe is second on the Ravens in both tackles (81) and sacks (4.5).

He replaced Lewis in the starting lineup following Lewis' injury and recorded nine tackles or more in each of the next four games.

"Dannell Ellerbe is continuing to work, and we anticipate he's got a chance to get back this week," Harbaugh said Monday. "We were hopeful for this past game, but it just didn't work out. We took him right to gameday, and he was unable to go."

Dickson's production has been down as a pass-catcher - he has just 14 catches for 152 yards - but has proven valuable as a blocker. He was on the field for more than 60 percent of Baltimore's offensive snaps during the first 11 games.

Like Ellerbe, Harbaugh said Dickson has a chance to play this week against the Redskins as well.

REDSKINS INJURIES: Three starters - linebacker London Fletcher (ankle), cornerback DeAngelo Hall (ankle/knee) and left tackle Trent Williams - missed practice for Washington Wednesday, but all three are expected to play against the Ravens Sunday.