Smith healthy enough to work out

The Ravens expect Troy Smith to play again this season after clearing the second-year quarterback to start light conditioning work yesterday.

The 2006 Heisman Trophy winner has not practiced with the team since coming down with severe tonsillitis Aug. 22. He has lost 20 pounds while also battling a blood clot in his neck, which led to an infection in his lung. There is no timetable for his return to the field.


"This is extraordinarily unlucky," said Dr. Andrew Tucker, the Ravens' head physician. "It a rare complication of a very severe tonsil infection."

The Ravens plan to start rookie quarterback Joe Flacco on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Todd Bouman remains the backup, and Casey Bramlet is on the practice squad as the No. 3 quarterback.


Tucker said he doesn't know when Smith will be cleared to play. Specialists will evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. Recent tests showed that the blood clot and infection have improved, Tucker said.

Coach John Harbaugh indicated the Ravens don't plan to place Smith on injured reserve, which would end his season.

"We're pretty certain that he's going to be back playing for the bulk of the season," Harbaugh said.

In his second season, Smith was primed to take over the team's quarterback competition after being named the starter for the Ravens' third preseason game. But as the team traveled to St. Louis, Smith became ill and watched the game from the team hotel. A day after the Ravens returned, he was diagnosed with tonsillitis.

Smith seemed to be progressing well until the Ravens' preseason finale, when he was taken to Union Memorial Hospital after complaining of chest pain. A clot was discovered in a major vein in his neck, which sent an infection into his lung.

Smith, who is taking oral antibiotics, is expected to make a full recovery. Smith has been recommended to have his tonsils removed, a procedure that likely will occur after the season, Tucker said.

"Troy's health was never in any danger," said Tucker, who acknowledged he had not dealt with such an illness. "But this must be regarded as a serious infection and treated with close monitoring."

As a rookie last season, Smith went 1-1 as a starter, completing 53 percent of his passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns. He impressed the veteran players with his poise and confidence.


It was difficult to judge Smith this preseason because he attempted just 18 passes. He completed half of them for 113 yards, throwing no touchdowns and one interception.

When Smith is ready to play again, it's unknown whether he will take over as the backup or be given a chance to compete against Flacco for the starting job.

"We think he's a heck of a quarterback, and he's going to make our team stronger when he comes back," Harbaugh said. "[The decision] is going to be partly medical and football strategy - what role can he play to help us win, where Joe is at and where the offense is at. I know one thing: When he comes back, it's going to be a big plus for us."

Smith was unavailable for comment yesterday. A team spokesman said Smith "doesn't feel strong enough" to give an interview but that he could speak to the media as early as the end of the week.


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