OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s been the same story for the last month as Ray Lewis has been sidelined with a turf toe injury.
The media ask about the Ravens linebacker’s chances of playing, and coach John Harbaugh provides an answer offering some level of hope despite Lewis having missed the last four games. However, the Ravens coach was not willing to play the same game on Friday afternoon after Lewis had just completed his third straight practice of the week.
“We’ll see, we’ll see,” said Harbaugh when asked of Lewis’ chances to return against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night. “You know who’s playing anyway, so just report what you know. Sometimes, you’re right. Sometimes, you’re wrong. You’re about 50-50 right now. We’ll see what you got.”
Of course, Harbaugh was referring to the speculation of the last couple weeks suggesting Lewis would make his return against the Chargers in Week 15. That outcome appears all but certain after the 36-year-old made it through a week of practice without any setbacks.
The Ravens are 4-0 in Lewis’ absence, but would clearly welcome back their emotional and cerebral leader on defense with open arms as they take on the eighth-ranked defense in the NFL.
As for cornerback Lardarius Webb and kicker Billy Cundiff, neither of whom practiced this week, Harbaugh offered the same terse reply when asked about each player.
“You really don’t know,” Harbaugh said. “I could give you something and it’s not right and you think I’m not giving you right information. You really don’t know for sure. It depends on how guys improve, how it responds to practice, how they feel the day of the game. It’s just the reality of it. Why sit up here and try to speculate? We’ll know Sunday night.”
Harbaugh’s mood reflects the higher stakes involved in the Ravens traveling across the country to take on a Chargers team desperate to run the table to keep their remote playoff hopes alive. It’s easier to provide crafted injury-related answers when facing the likes of Cleveland and Indianapolis, but a win over San Diego is far from a sure thing.
And it reflects in the head coach’s comments.
“Why am I going to try to give information out that’s going to help our opponent? You can keep asking questions about it, and I’m going to keep giving you the same answer. It’s OK. It doesn’t bother me. It shouldn’t bother you when I don’t answer it. So, you shouldn’t have to ask it four times.”
In fairness, Harbaugh’s mindset is shared by numerous head coaches throughout the league despite many wondering just how much it really affects the opposing team’s preparation. However, the Ravens subscribe to the idea of exploring all possible channels to gain an edge against the team they’ll be facing on a given Sunday.
“Sure it [helps], of course it does,” Harbaugh said. “How could it not? We’re looking all the time. We read what their guys write all the time to see if we can get something out of them. Every piece of information is valuable.”
Hear Harbaugh’s comments to the media on Friday in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.