OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In his first opportunity to speak to the media following linebacker Terrell Suggs’ first three days of practice for the 2012 season, Ravens coach John Harbaugh predictably wasn’t going to offer any clarity on the star defensive player’s status for Sunday.
Despite refuting an ESPN report saying he was targeting a return against the Houston Texas, the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year wouldn’t rule out the possibility of playing this weekend and his head coach went along with the story following Friday’s practice. Suggs is still considered to be a long shot to play after only three days of practice and with a bye week coming next week, but Harbaugh said no decision has been made on the defensive player’s status.
“I don’t know. We will see,” Harbaugh said. “If I knew I wouldn’t tell you, and I don’t know that I know what I know, and I don’t know, and I’m not sure, and we’ll have to see. That about sums it up.”
As if that explanation wasn’t confusing enough, the Ravens haven’t been required to list Suggs on their injury reports this week since he is still technically on the physically unable to report list and not part of the 53-man roster. As a result, the Texans have no definitive way of knowing Suggs’ level of participation despite all signs pointing to him being very limited in team workouts.
Suggs and Harbaugh have suggested a decision may not come until Sunday morning when the Ravens release their inactives list 90 minutes prior to the 1 p.m. kickoff at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
In order to even have the opportunity to make a decision on Suggs’ status Sunday morning, the Ravens would need to place him on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Of course, they could add to the gamesmanship by placing the Pro Bowl linebacker on the active roster anyway before ultimately listing him as one of their inactives for Sunday’s game in Houston.
“In all seriousness, he’s done a really good job,” Harbaugh said. “This is a very serious injury [and] he’s worked really hard. Us not putting it out there is the fact that we’ve practiced him all week. We aren’t too interested in [the Texans] knowing one way or the other.”
Reed’s labrum injury just one of many ailments in locker room
Asked to react to the revelation that safety Ed Reed is playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder, Harbaugh did not seem surprised and said it isn’t uncommon for players to have injuries of that nature that won’t sideline a player or hold them out of practice.
Harbaugh estimated there are “probably 25 or 30″ players dealing with various ailments in the Baltimore locker room presently. The Ravens will have an opportunity to rest those injuries with their bye next week.
“I know what the players in this league do physically is something that I know I admire, and I think everybody should admire,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a tough game; it’s a physical sport. What he’s talking about are the things that all these guys have. There are always a lot of bumps, and bruises, and nicks and tears – if you will – that guys have to deal with.”
Reed downplayed the significance of the injury on Thursday, explaining that a labrum injury in the shoulder would be significant for a baseball pitcher but not as serious for a football player.
The 34-year-old practiced fully all week and was not listed on the injury report.
However, several reports are suggesting the league is investigating the Ravens over Reed not being listed on the team’s official injury report, which has a section for players participating fully despite having an injury.
Byrne declares Lewis return has “legitimate chance”
Since Harbaugh announced linebacker Ray Lewis was being placed on injured reserve with the designation to potentially return later in the season, many have suggested the move was merely a gesture out of respect for the 37-year-old linebacker, who underwent surgery for a torn triceps in his right arm earlier this week.
However, Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne wanted to dispel that rumor when he joined AM 1570 WNST.net on Friday morning. Lewis’ return remains highly unlikely, but the probability of him making a late-season return is better than most would think, according to Byrne.
“There’s a legitimate chance,” Byrne said. “Ozzie [Newsome] did his research through Leigh Ann Curl, our team doctor, and Ray talked to Leigh Ann and then talked to his doctor from the University of Miami. Ray had called some athletes from other sports — not who had this exact injury — who had similar tears in other parts of the body and how they came back in a hurry.”
The consensus recovery time for a complete tear of the triceps tendon ranges from four to six months. A three-month recovery period could have Lewis ready to play by mid-January, but the Ravens are keeping the door open for Lewis in the event that he’s able to make what nearly everyone would consider a miraculous recovery.
“There’s a little bit more than an outside chance that we could get Ray back late in the season,” Byrne said, “or if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs.”
Close friend and running back Ray Rice said Lewis has played in recent years solely for the chance to win another championship and will devote all efforts toward returning later this season for that very possibility.
Rice said Lewis is in good spirits as he begins the recovery process following surgery.
“The Ray I know and the Ray Lewis that you all have known for years is going to work as hard as he can to get back this year,” said Rice, who maintained Lewis’ focus is on returning this season before thinking about returning for 2013. “He’ll do whatever it takes to try to get back this year. Ray’s in good spirits, and the Ray Lewis I know was never playing for stats, was never playing for anything else like that anymore. He was playing for one thing and that’s trying to win a Super Bowl.”
You can read Byrne’s column “The Byrne Identity” right HERE.
Odds & ends
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Tony Corrente. … The Ravens are 5-0 all-time in the regular season against Houston and won their only postseason meeting last season in a 20-13 victory in the divisional round. … Baltimore has won six consecutive games against AFC opponents and 10 of their last 11 against teams in the same conference. … Wide receiver Jacoby Jones, safety Bernard Pollard, and fullback Vonta Leach are all former Texans and will be making their return to Reliant Stadium for the first time since joining Baltimore. Houston kicker Shayne Graham played one game for the Ravens last year, filling in for the injured Billy Cundiff and converting two field goals in the 20-14 win over Cleveland on Dec. 24. … The Texans will wear their alternate red jerseys against the Ravens on Sunday.