Running back Danny Woodhead, who has been sidelined since suffering a significant hamstring injury on the Ravens' first offensive drive of the season, has returned to practice, the team announced Tuesday.
Woodhead can't play this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans because any player placed on injured reserve and tabbed to return has to miss at least eight games. However, his return to practice this week increases the likelihood he'll be ready in time for the team's post-bye road game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 19.
That would be the first game Woodhead is eligible to play. Cornerback Maurice Canady, who was the team's other injured player designated to return, can technically play this Sunday because he was placed on IR before Week 1 and has already missed eight games. However, it isn't clear whether the Ravens will activate him before Sunday as cornerback is not a significant need at the moment,
As for Woodhead, he signed a three-year, $8.8 million deal with the Ravens in March. The 32-year-old was slowed by injuries throughout training camp, but he made his presence felt on the team's first offensive drive in the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Woodhead had one rush for 4 yards and three catches for 33 yards before he hurt his hamstring on a third-down incompletion that preceded a field goal by Justin Tucker.
When he returns, the Ravens will likely have some decisions to make in a crowded backfield. With Terrance West (Towson University, Northwestern High) missing three previous games with a calf injury, the Ravens relied on Alex Collins and Buck Allen, who have been a nice one-two punch, and also signed running back Bobby Rainey Jr. to handle kick-return duties.
With West and Woodhead nearing returns, it's unlikely the Ravens will be able to keep five running backs.
"It will have to be addressed whether we can hold on to five running backs or not — assuming Danny is healthy soon and he's out there playing for us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "That'll be a decision that will have to be made. That'll be a roster-wide-type of decision. We'll have to compare all of our options and try to keep the players that give us the best chance or make us the strongest team."
The Ravens made a few other roster moves Tuesday. They released veteran wide receiver Griff Whalen after he played two games with the team and promoted undrafted rookie offensive guard Maurquice Shakir from the practice squad to the active roster.
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Whalen, signed about two weeks earlier with the Ravens dealing with several injuries at wide receiver, caught four passes for 23 yards in two games.
Shakir, whom the Ravens signed as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, has been on the practice squad all season. He provides a little more depth to the interior of the offensive line.
The Ravens filled the practice squad spots of Shakir and Arie Kouandjio, whom the Washington Redskins added to their active roster late last week, by signing offensive guard Jason King and tackle Steven Moore.
King was in training camp with the New England Patriots after going undrafted out of Purdue.
Moore, who played at California, was in training camp with the Titans, whom the Ravens play Sunday.