If the Ravens decide to begin their examination of quarterback Ryan Mallett this season as opposed to waiting until the summer, offensive coordinator Marc Trestman believes he has done enough in practice since arriving last Tuesday to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday if that's asked of him.
Coach John Harbaugh said Monday he wouldn't reveal whether Jimmy Clausen, Matt Schaub or Mallett would start this week, and Trestman believes all three are ready if called upon.
Mallett's inclusion on that list, however, was emphatic — and a result of the two quarterbacks he's competing with.
"I think he is [ready]," Trestman said. "The one thing that has been so noticeable this week is how the three of them have worked together to prepare for this game, helping Ryan to get ready to play.
"By helping Ryan, all three guys are getting themselves ready to play, which is a credit to all of them. That's why I'm saying that he's had enough reps that if John decides to play him and we decide to go that way, we feel like he can manage the game."
Clausen has started the past two games for the Ravens, throwing for 555 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions on 49-for-85 passing as Schaub healed a chest injury suffered nearly three weeks ago.
In Schaub's two starts, he threw for 540 yards on 52-for-80 passing with three touchdowns and four interceptions. Mallett signed as a free agent on Dec. 15, and is the only one of the three signed for 2016.
Clausen said Wednesday that "everybody is getting reps" and preparing as if they're the starter, and also noted the work the three are doing together.
"It's a good combination to have," Clausen said. "Obviously, you don't want this to happen to your team throughout the season, but everyone is doing a great job working with each other. Everyone is trying to get ready to go, because no one knows who's going to be playing."
Kick returner Jacoby Jones, nearly two months after coming back to Baltimore as a member of the San Diego Chargers, returns again Sunday with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh claimed Jones off waivers from the Chargers on Nov. 5, and immediately installed him as their primary return man. However, Jones — a hero of the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII run — was benched after fumbling twice against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 6. He has been a game-day inactive in two games since.
On his conference call with Baltimore-area reporters Wednesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked whether Jones had given him a hard time about the infamous sideline incident at M&T Bank Stadium. On Thanksgiving night 2013, Jones' path to the end zone on a kick return was altered when Tomlin, his back to the play, stepped too close to the field.
"Jacoby is a football lover," Tomlin said. "We don't have any history in that regard. I think over the course of time, he has gotten to know me, and I think that may have eliminated any questions he may have had about that incident."
Brent Urban's blocked kick that safety Will Hill returned for the game-winning touchdown in the Ravens' 33-27 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 30 will be something that the second-year defensive end will always remember.
Urban added another personal highlight last Sunday, when he took down Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the first quarter for his first career sack.
"It was a great feeling, something I've been waiting for since I got back on the field. You want sacks as a defensive lineman obviously. It was really rewarding to finally have it happen," Urban said. "I was just ecstatic to finally make a big play on the defensive side of the ball. I'm really starting to feel like things are coming along on that end. It was nice to be rewarded for my hard work on defense."
After spending all of his rookie season and half of his sophomore campaign on injured reserve, Urban is getting more and more comfortable with the Ravens defense. In four games, he has eight tackles and one sack.
But only in recent weeks has he felt like himself again as an increased workload has allowed him to knock off some rust. Urban played 32 snaps against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec.13 before playing 11 against the Chiefs.
"My technique feels a lot better," Urban said. "I'm a lot more calm, I guess, when I go out there. I feel ready whenever I'm called upon. I'm a lot more clear-minded and I can zero in on what I have to do. It's easier for me to focus on my assignments."
Smith, Wagner return
Cornerback Jimmy Smith, who left Sunday's game in the first quarter with a thigh injury, returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Smith, who has started every game this season for the Ravens, was a full participant Thursday.
Right tackle Rick Wagner, who missed Wednesday with a knee injury, also returned and practiced fully.
Wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) and linebacker Albert McClellan (ankle) did not practice again Thursday, while linebacker Daryl Smith got his typical veteran day off.
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said punter Sam Koch's Pro Bowl bid was "richly deserved. He is doing a job that very few people have done these last few years."… Rosburg said the fake punt against Kansas City wasn't coached well enough, and that the Chiefs had different personnel in place that changed the play's outcome. … The Giving Back Fund, the foundation of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, will be distributing a grant to the Charles County Sheriff's Office in conjunction with Pittsburgh's game against the Ravens on Sunday. The funds will go toward replacing a retiring 8-year-old K-9, Erno, with a K-9 that is dual-trained in patrol and narcotics. Roethlisberger's foundation has distributed grants to K-9 units of police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of the Steelers' road opponents this season.