After the start of Wednesday afternoon's practice session, Ravens players turned their attention between reps to the man in the gray hooded sweat shirt as he walked through the double doors and onto the field. Inside linebacker Ray Lewis, who has missed the past four games with a toe injury, returned to practice and was met by clapping and catcalls from some of his teammates.
Lewis hadn't practiced since the week of the Nov. 24 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Back with his teammates, he pulled his purple No. 9 practice jersey — worn in honor of the late Steve McNair — over his sweat shirt but didn't exert himself much beyond that in the portion of practice open to the media. According to the team's injury report, Lewis practiced on a limited basis.
Before the practice, coach John Harbaugh said that if Lewis weren't able to participate this week, he would not be automatically ruled out for Sunday night's game at the San Diego Chargers.
"Ray's different, probably, than most guys," Harbaugh said. "So I think Ray could go out there and play without practicing. He's going to try … but if he didn't practice, he could play on Sunday."
At a charity event Tuesday, Lewis said he was optimistic that he would return before season's end.
"I'm feeling way better," Lewis said. "I thought I had a good chance the last four weeks to play, but the coaches are going to make those decisions. They're just being smart. I don't mind being smart. The warrior side of me of course is always going to want to get back out there."
Webb misses practice
Cornerback Lardarius Webb, who injured his toe in the 24-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, did not practice and said he isn't sure whether he will be healthy enough to suit up Sunday night.
Webb is the third Ravens player to have turf toe in 2011 (Lewis and offensive guard Ben Grubbs are the others). He is holding out hope that unlike Lewis and Grubbs, he won't miss any games.
"I hope not. I'm doing everything I can do to get back on the field," Webb, who wore a walking boot on his left foot as a precautionary measure, said Wednesday. "It would hurt me if I'm on the sidelines and somebody else is playing. The last time I did that was my rookie year. … This isn't an ACL. It's really going to take a lot to keep me off the field right now."
Cornerback Chris Carr, who had been sidelined with a back injury, practiced Wednesday and is optimistic about his chances to play Sunday night. However, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (back), kicker Billy Cundiff (calf), defensive end Cory Redding (ankle) and Grubbs (toe) did not practice.
Gaither: no animosity
Jared Gaither is with his second team since he and the Ravens parted ways this past offseason. The offensive tackle signed with the Chiefs after the NFL lockout, was released by Kansas City last month and has started the past two games for the Chargers at left tackle.
Gaither, a White Plains native who played at Maryland, said he has no animosity toward the Ravens, even though his final year in Baltimore started with his arriving at training camp nearly 30 pounds lighter than expected and was ended by a mysterious back injury.
"They're a great organization. [Ravens general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] gave me my start, and I'm very appreciative for it," said Gaither, who said he talks to some former teammates "infrequently."
Chargers surge in December
The Chargers have won back-to-back games in December to improve to 6-7. Their late-season success has become the norm under coach Norv Turner. Since 2008, the Chargers are 14-2 in December and January, tying them with the New England Patriots for the best mark in the NFL.
"They understand these months are definitely important to get a good push into the playoffs," Ngata said. "Hopefully, we kind of prove that we can win in December, too, and continue that."
The Ravens are 12-4 in December and January since Harbaugh became coach in 2008.
Flacco: Baby talk 'funny'
Baltimore Ravens Insider
Quarterback Joe Flacco and his wife, Dana, who were married in June, are expecting their first child. Flacco expressed amusement at the amount of attention being paid to the pregnancy.
"I honestly don't pay attention," Flacco said. "I just hear you guys ask me about it, and I think that's even a little funny. Other than that, I don't really know what is going on about it, but it's a little funny. It's not even close to being here yet, but … we're really excited about it."
Flacco said the baby is due June 17, which won't conflict with the team's playoff push.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week again after recording three sacks and forcing three fumbles in the win over the Colts. It was the third time he has received the honor in 2011 and the fifth time a Ravens defender has (Lewis and linebacker Jarret Johnson also won the reward). … Harbaugh said the Ravens will travel to San Diego on Friday night. ... Ex-Ravens linebacker Antwan Barnes leads the Chargers with seven sacks.