Ravens All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis returned to practice today from a surgically repaired torn right triceps, a big step in his comeback from a serious injury.
The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year will need to be activated from the injured reserve-designated to return. The first time he's eligible to play in a game is Dec. 16 against a Denver Broncos offense headlined by quarterback Peyton Manning.
"He will not play on Sunday," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. "I don't know if he's ready to play physically anyway. This is part of his rehab.
"We'll see how he does. When the time comes for Ray to play, we'll let you know. We're not going to spring it on you. I don't know when it's going to be."
Teammates are excited about Lewis' pending return.
"That's like a blessing," nose guard Terrence Cody said. "You got your captain back, your leader and you just want to see good things for guys like that."
Added defensive end Arthur Jones: "It means a lot, anytime you have a guy like him around the building, it's amazing. Ray Lewis is a guy that has that passion. He's a guy that loves football and he's a guy that didn't come back for the stats. He came back for the passion of football. Why not? Ray Lewis is the man."
The Ravens are 4-2 during Lewis' absence.
"He's Ray Lewis," said Jameel McClain, who has filled in capably at middle linebacker with Lewis sidelined. "Everybody knows how much it means. Whether it adds up to something in the long run, we don't know that yet. Only Ray knows that, but having him here is definitely a plus for all of us.