Steve Smith Sr. made a surprise appearance at practice on Thursday, offering up the first sign that the veteran wide receiver could play for the Ravens against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Smith, who participated on a limited basis, has not been on the field since injuring his ankle in the first quarter of a 16-10 loss to the Washington Redskins on Oct. 9. He was not on the field at the team's training facility in Owings Mills during the portion of practice open to the media, but likely showed up after the session had been closed.
Smith's return would be a significant boost for a passing attack that is ranked 18th in the NFL in average yards (246.1) and for quarterback Joe Flacco who has not thrown a touchdown pass in his last 11 quarters. Smith still ranks third on the team in catches (27) and yards (310).
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did not shed much light on Thursday on how Smith's absence has impacted the offense, saying only, "Steve is one of the great players in the game. When he is out, the next player steps up. When he can play again, we will utilize him."
Limited for the second consecutive day was inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring). Practicing fully for the second straight day were rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (torn left biceps), free safety Lardarius Webb (hamstring), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), and rookie cornerback Tavon Young (concussion).
Outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and rookie Kamalei Correa (thigh), tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh), and cornerback Shareece Wright (pulled hamstring) did not practice. Dumervil, Correa, and Gillmore sat out for the second consecutive day, while Wright had been limited in Wednesday's session.
For Pittsburgh, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (torn meniscus in left knee) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day. Backup running back DeAngelo Williams (knee) was downgraded from limited to no participation.
Three starters in wide receiver Antonio Brown (hip), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (high ankle sprain), and defensive end Cameron Heyward (hamstring) fully practiced for the second consecutive day. Starting right guard David DeCastro, who did not practice on Wednesday for non-injury reasons, was removed from the injury report.