All week, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has not provided much clarity on why offensive tackle Austin Howard has not practiced since signing a three-year, $15.025 million contract last Friday. When it was his turn to speak, Howard did not shed much light on his situation either.
Speaking after the Thursday night's 23-3 victory over the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium, the 6-foot-7, 330-pound former Oakland Raider never specified what was preventing him from practicing with the team. "The coaches and the training staff just came in with a certain protocol for me to do, and I have my trust in them," he would only say. "That's what we're doing right now."
Asked when fans could expect to see him on the field, Howard replied, "As soon as possible. I rely on them to make those decisions for me and what's best."
Howard underwent surgery in January to repair a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum in his left shoulder, but he described his shoulder as "feeling great."
"I had a really good surgeon," he said. "Fortunately, it wasn't too bad of an injury. Right now, we're just ready to go and looking forward to getting back out on the field."
After Tuesday's practice, Harbaugh said he did not have an update on Howard, saying his status was "in the trainer's hands."
Howard's absence has been somewhat worrisome as he is expected to compete with James Hurst to start at right tackle. Hurst started there Thursday night, but considering how much the organization is paying Howard, it is anticipated he will eventually leapfrog Hurst on the depth chart.
Howard said he is eager to practice with his teammates but cautioned against rushing anything.
"I trust the process and the knowledge of the coaches and the training staff," he said. "I'm just looking forward to getting back out there hopefully soon."