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Ravens expect all starters to be healthy for Texans game

The benefits of the playoff bye weekend were obvious to John Harbaugh.

The Ravens coach said players nursing various injuries and ailments appear much improved after getting the opportunity to rest for three consecutive days over the weekend.

"From an injury perspective, we look good," Harbaugh said during his weekly conference Monday. "We anticipate everybody playing in the game [against the Houston Texans Sunday]."

Harbaugh said the turf toe injury that shelved inside linebacker Ray Lewis for four consecutive games earlier in the season is no longer a concern.

"He looks great," Harbaugh said. "No, he's 100 percent. Any report to the contrary is absolutely untrue. His toe is 100 percent. Has been for a couple weeks."

Inside linebackers Jameel McClain and Brendon Ayanbadejo did not practice last week due to knee and quad sprains, respectively, but Harbaugh said their injuries are getting better.

"Jameel and Brendon are working through their knee issues," Harbaugh said. "They should be good. We'll see how they practice."

Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, strong safety Tom Zbikowski and rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith have not yet been cleared for contact, but Harbaugh said that could happen as early as Tuesday. Harbaugh also said that wide receiver Anquan Boldin appears fully recovered from surgery three weeks ago to repair a partially torn meniscus in his knee.

"What we did today was a very light kind of a walkthrough practice, but he looks fine, and he's been running on it," Harbaugh said. "So he should be 100 percent."

Defensive end Cory Redding, who has been bothered by a balky right ankle, said he is living proof of the benefits of the bye weekend.

"Awesome," Redding said Monday when asked how he felt. "I was just talking to some of my coaches and talking about how good I feel. I lost a few pounds working real hard and just really reflecting on myself."

Cameron in Texas

Harbaugh confirmed an ESPN report that Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was present at Saturday's AFC wildcard contest between the third-seeded Houston Texans and the sixth-seeded Cincinnati Bengals.

Cameron likely took notes on the Texans' 31-10 victory, but Harbaugh said there was nothing subversive about Cameron's attendance.

"He's done that quite a few times over the years when we've had bye weeks and stuff like that," Harbaugh said during his weekly conference Monday. "So that's something that I think he likes to do. It gives him a feel, watching the game live, scouting the game live. It's not so much X's and O's as it is a feel for the tempo and things like that. That's something he likes to do, and he's done that over the years."

Mason plans to retire

After a nomadic 2011 campaign that included stops with the New York Jets and Houston Texans, Derrick Mason has concluded that it is time to end his 15-year career.

"Right now, I'm just doing some analysis and spending time with my kids," the former Ravens wide receiver told The Sun's Mike Preston from his home in Nashville. "Physically, I feel fine and I can still go play. Mentally, I've had enough. I know it's my time to get out and I plan to retire."

Mason, who was waived by the Ravens in the offseason, did not encounter much success, catching just 19 passes for 170 yards with the Jets and Texans, who cut him Dec. 12.

But Mason, who spent six seasons with the Ravens, is still the franchise's all-time leader in receptions (471) and yards (5,777). The two-time Pro Bowler will finish his career with 943 catches, 12,061 yards and 66 touchdowns.

Flacco, Rice up for awards

Joe Flacco is one of five candidates competing for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year.

The Ravens quarterback was singled out for his 26-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter. That score capped a 13-play, 92-yard drive that gave the team an eventual 23-20 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 6 and a sweep of their AFC North rivals.

Flacco is vying for the award with Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (led a goal-line stop of New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram to preserve a 42-34 victory on Sept. 8); Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (engineered a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter and overtime to earn a 27-24 win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 18); the Oakland Raiders (upending the Houston Texans, 25-20, on Oct. 11, just one day after owner Al Davis had died); and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (helped erase a 10-0 deficit in the final 2:08 of regulation to cement a 13-10 overtime win against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 11).

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Ray Rice is one of three candidates for the FedEx Ground Player of the Year.

The Ravens running back was highlighted for amassing 1,364 yards – second-best in the NFL – and 12 rushing touchdowns – tied for second in the league among running backs. Invited to the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years, Rice was nominated for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week four times, winning twice.

Rice's competition for the award is the Jacksonville Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew (a NFL-high 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns en route to being the only running back in the league to average over 100 rushing years this season) and the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy (a NFL-best 17 touchdowns and 1,309 yards, which ranked fourth).

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Baltimore Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

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