OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Earning one of their biggest victories of the season to seize control of the AFC’s No. 6 seed for now, the Ravens did not escape the 22-20 final over Pittsburgh unscathed from an injury standpoint.
However, three extra days of rest came at the opportune time with the Ravens concluding a three-game homestand Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Baltimore expects to have its full allotment of key players despite cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Brandon Stokley leaving last Thursday’s game with injuries and several others including linebacker Elvis Dumervil and wide receiver Torrey Smith getting banged up during the game.
“Everybody came out of the game with bumps and bruises,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I expect all those guys to be able to play on Sunday. We’ll just have to see if something flares up between now and then.”
Smith appears to be the most serious injury concern at the moment after he collided with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the game, which resulted in both players lying woozy on the field for a significant time. Bell appeared to receive the worst of the impact, but the Ravens will monitor the third-year cornerback’s status over the course of the week.
Harbaugh said Smith “should be OK” immediately after Thursday night’s win and confirmed that initial prognosis during his Monday press conference.
“Jimmy seems to be doing really well,” Harbaugh said. “He was doing well right after the game. He’s going through the concussion protocol now. That was what it was during the course of the game, but everything looks really, really good for Jimmy. [He] should be fine. You never know with that, but it looks like he’s going to be able to even practice on Wednesday, so we’re feeling good about that.”
Stokley’s knee sprain did not result in any concerning structural damage when he was examined on Friday — he did not return to the game after leaving late in the first half — and Dumervil’s ankle injury sustained late in the first half on Thanksgiving night may limit his practice time this week.
Dumervil returned to action after halftime and finished the game with three tackles, but he didn’t appear to make the same impact after hurting his ankle.
“He looks OK,” said Harbaugh about Dumervil’s status. “We’re going to have to nurse some things just like with a lot of different guys.”
The biggest health-related headline leading into Sunday’s game with the Vikings will be the status of tight end Dennis Pitta with all signs pointing to him making his 2013 season debut.
Pitta returned to the practice field on Nov. 20 and is currently in the midst of a 21-day window in which he can practice before the Ravens must either place him on the 53-man roster or leave him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Should Pitta not be ready to play against the Vikings, the Ravens would have to place him on the active roster by Dec. 11 for him to be eligible to play the rest of the season.
The fourth-year tight end dislocated and fractured his hip on July 27 and has remained on IR with the designation to return since early September.
“It’ll probably come down to the end of the week,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got a pretty good idea that he’s doing well. It’s just a matter of how well. Is he feeling good enough? Do the doctors feel like he’s ready to play? That’s what it’s going to come down to.
“He ran around well last week. We’ll go through the week and see how he does. If he can play, he will for sure. We want to get him up — that’s our goal. But it’s not 100-percent certain at this point.”