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Ravens' Baxter has abdominal hernia surgery


Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter underwent abdominal hernia surgery yesterday at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Baxter's rehabilitation is expected to last four to eight weeks, which should make him available for the Ravens' first minicamp May 7-9. It was an injury Baxter played through during the final part of the season. Baxter finished third on the team with 106 tackles and intercepted three passes.

The injury is the first major one for Baxter since his rookie year of 2001 when a knee problem forced him out of the better part of training camp and the first half of the season.

Baxter has started 31 straight games (including playoffs), the longest streak of any Ravens defensive player.

"He'd been dealing with that, and although it didn't inhibit him, that was something that was very painful for him to deal with," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "So to get that out of the way, I'm sure he'll feel a lot better."

In other injury news, with most of the Ravens' front office personnel and training staff having left for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last night, the team will wait until Monday to examine the right shoulder of linebacker Ray Lewis.

Lewis played in the Pro Bowl 10 days ago, recording six tackles. The Ravens want to look at the shoulder to make sure no medical treatment is required. Lewis wore a harness on the shoulder during games the last quarter of the season. It is not the same shoulder that Lewis injured in 2002, when he missed 11 of the Ravens' 16 games that season.

The Ravens also officially announced the hiring of Jedd Fisch as an offensive assistant, a newly created position on the coaching staff. Fisch spent the last three seasons as the defensive quality control coach of the Houston Texans for whom he assisted the team's linebackers. He also served two seasons as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida.

Fisch joins senior consultant Jim Fassel, secondary coach Johnnie Lynn and outside linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald as the new additions to Billick's staff.

"Jim is a unique circumstance that is fairly self-evident," said Billick, who will make no further additions to his staff. "All I've really done is add an offensive assistant that [all NFL teams] have. Even with those two additions, I'm just now at the average size of an NFL staff."

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