The Ravens will again wait until Saturday afternoon to make a decision on Ray Lewis, but early indications are that the inside linebacker will attempt to play Sunday against the New York Giants.
Lewis, who is trying to come back from a torn triceps that he sustained in the Ravens' Week 6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, practiced for the third straight week and he wants to return. The Ravens also possess the roster flexibility to accommodate him on the 53-man roster with Jameel McClain (neck) expected to be moved to injured reserve. The Ravens have declared McClain out for the season.
The Ravens will have to make a final decision on whether to activate Lewis from injured reserve with a designation to return by 4 p.m. Saturday. Team sources said they expect Lewis to try to play; however, they cautioned the decision will ultimately be up to Lewis and the team's medical and coaching staff.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't tip his hand, saying only that Lewis is "coming along."
Lewis has practiced with the Ravens the past three weeks, wearing a brace on his right arm. He was first eligible to come back last week against the Denver Broncos, but the decision was made to give him one more week of practice. He's gotten through this week with no setbacks and while he has not spoken to reporters, Lewis has been upbeat and active around the locker room. In past weeks, Lewis was barely around the locker room after practice.
In his 17th NFL season, Lewis is fifth on the Ravens with 57 tackles despite missing the past eight games with the arm injury. His potential return comes at a time where the Ravens' middle linebacking core has been stretched thin with injuries. McClain is out and Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) is considered a game-time decision Sunday.
"It would be huge," defensive tackle Arthur Jones said when asked about Lewis and Ellerbe possibly coming back. "These guys are playmakers and you get any of those guys back it would be a plus for our team and our defense."
Second-year linebacker Josh Bynes, an undrafted free agent, made his first start last week with Brendon Ayanbadejo, known primarily for his special teams play, starting at weak-side linebacker.
"There's an edge to have a veteran player in there," said nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu. "The young guys are stepping up, but it would be an emotional thing to have him back. Whether he's playing or not, it's always going to be emotional to have him pumping the guys up."