Ravens right tackle James Hurst has missed the past four games with a back injury that coach John Harbaugh initially hoped would be a minor inconvenience.
But what once was a “disk issue” is now a troublesome calf. Harbaugh on Friday attributed the injury to Hurst’s nerve root, one of two bundles of nerve fibers from the spinal cord that convey sensations to the central nervous system, which controls most functions of the body and mind.
Hurst, who last played in Week 6, was held out of practice again this week. He last practiced Oct. 19.
“It's just unpredictable, time-wise,” Harbaugh said. “We thought he'd back two, three weeks ago. So I'm as frustrated as anybody — I'm not as frustrated as James; he's the most frustrated. So he could be back next week. Now, he's got to practice, he's got to get in the weight room, he's got to get himself right. All those things would have to happen, but until … that's all cleared, he's not going to be able to go.”
Rookie Orlando Brown Jr.’s play at right tackle has made Hurst’s absence manageable, but the team could be down two starters Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Left guard Alex Lewis, who had maybe his best game of the season Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, was limited in practice Thursday and was not present for the open portion of practice Friday. An injury report will be released later Friday.
“Fortunately, we've got some depth on the O-line,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys have done a good job, but that has been frustrating, no question about it, for James and for us.”