OWINGS MILLS - Injured Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is eligible to return to practice Thursday, but head coach John Harbaugh was non-committal on when Lewis will actually make his return to the practice field.
"We'll just play it day-by-day as far as whether he practices or not," Harbaugh said. "He is not imminent to play or anything like that, so to me it's really a non-story. He'll go out there when he's ready to practice when the elbow holds. And when that happens, we'll let you know."
Lewis was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return following surgery to repair a complete tear of his right triceps in mid-October.
He was injured during Baltimore's win against the Cowboys in Week 6.
Under the NFL's new designated to return exemption for players 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' injury typically involves a four to six month recovery, but Harbaugh and several players have voiced optimism this week that Lewis will return at some point this season, possibly as early as the team's Week 15 game against the Broncos, although Harbaugh emphasized Monday that there's no set timetable for Lewis' return to the field.
The first game Lewis is eligible to play in is the Week 15 game against Denver.
"We don't really know where [Lewis' arm] is at right now," Harbaugh said Monday. "Ray has been in rehab mode, so he hasn't been here from a football standpoint in terms of us seeing any of that yet. But, just talking to Ray, it sounds like things have gone well and there have been no setbacks ... so there's a possibility he could practice as soon as the rules allow him to practice."
WHITE LIGHTNING: Knocking Chargers right tackle Jeromey Clary off-balance with a forceful blow to Clary's chest, Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger was free into San Diego's backfield for a first quarter sack of quarterback Philip Rivers.
Kruger finished Sunday with four tackles and the sack. He has sacks in three consecutive games.
Despite a slow start to the season, Kruger leads Baltimore with 5.5 sacks, four of which have come during the last three games.
"He can shake you. He can bull rush. It's kind of rare that you see an athlete like that," Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said of Kruger.
Pollard referred to Kruger as "White Lightning," comparing him to Vikings standout defensive end Jared Allen, widely regarded as one of the NFL's premier pass rushers.
Allen has seven sacks this season after recording 77.5 sacks during the previous five seasons, including an NFL-high 22 sacks last year.
Pollard was a teammate of Allen's with the Chiefs in 2006 and 2007.
"I told [Kruger] he reminds me a lot of Jared Allen," Pollard said. "I was in Kansas City with Jared. Jared is a bigger body than Kruger, but very similar with the hands, with the feet. Both are very smart players.
"Krug is capable of going out there and doing big things."
Kruger had six tackles, two sacks and an interception amid Baltimore's rout of the Raiders in Week 9, the beginning of his stretch of three straight games with a sack.
"Paul's playing really well," Harbaugh said. "The last two, three weeks he's really, really played well. He's been a huge impact in our sub-packages. He's getting better every week rushing the passer. He's [also] playing the run, especially in the sub-packages, really well."
RICE HONORED: Ravens running back Ray Rice was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance during Baltimore's dramatic comeback victory against the Chargers Sunday.
Rice had 164 total yards against San Diego (97 rushing, 67 receiving), including 29 on an improbable catch-and-run that converted a 4th-and-29 late in the fourth quarter and helped set up Justin Tucker's game-tying field goal to force overtime.
PRO BOWL: Cornerback Cary Williams is one of six Ravens leading fan voting for the Pro Bowl at their respective positions.
Fullback Vonta Leach, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, strong safety Bernard Pollard, free safety Ed Reed and kick returner Jacoby Jones also lead their positions in fan voting.
Fan voting represents one-third of the selection process for the Pro Bowl.
INJURY REPORT: Middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (sprained knee) were among four players that missed Wednesday's practice for Baltimore.
Ellerbe was hurt while covering Chargers tight end Antonio Gates during the second quarter of Sunday's win against San Diego.
Ellerbe is second on the Ravens in tackles (81).
"We'll just [play] it by ear to see if he can go," Harbaugh said. "I think we are day-to-day with Dannell."
Dickson was injured Sunday as well, hurt while blocking on a Jacoby Jones kick return during the second quarter.
He said the knee swelled up "pretty good," but is optimistic he'll be available against the Steelers this weekend.
"I feel pretty good, as [good] as I can at this point," Dickson said. "[We'll] take it day-by-day. Might practice or not, [but] it's Steelers week, man. Whatever I can do to be out there, I'm going to be out there. Right now, in my mind, I'm going to be out there Sunday."
Jones (ankle) and cornerback Corey Graham (illness) also missed practice Wednesday, but both are expected to be available against Pittsburgh.
Cornerback Chris Johnson (thigh) and defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee/thigh) both practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.
McPhee has been sidelined for each of the last four games. Johnson missed Sunday's game against San Diego after sustaining his injury early in the Ravens' win against the Steelers the week before.