OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (5-2) returned to practice Monday after taking five days off for bye week. The Ravens began preparations for an upcoming Week 9 contest with the Miami Dolphins (4-3) at M&T Bank Stadium.
LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder) and WR Donte’ Stallworth (foot) each appear to be on target to return to action Sunday. Gooden has not played since hurting himself in the Ravens’ Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Gooden said he would “practice this week as if he was playing Sunday”, but admitted that he would likely be a game-day decision. Gooden acknowledged that with the return of LB Brendon Ayanbadejo and the solid play of LB Jason Phillips, his spot on the 45 man active roster for Sunday’s game would not be guaranteed.
Stallworth has not played since hurting himself in the team’s third preseason game, a 24-10 win over the New York Giants in Charm City. Stallworth told reporters Monday he also expects to be a “game time decision.” Stallworth said he was a full participant in practice Monday (the team does not have to list an official injury report until Wednesday), but admitted the foot was “still a little sore.”
When asked if he was expecting to return punts Sunday against the team’s AFC East opponent, Stallworth responded “I would like to”, but deferred the decision to head coach John Harbaugh. Harbaugh said during his weekly press conference that Stallworth returning punts would be “a matter of whether he’s able to do it or not.” Harbaugh added “he’d have to look good catching punts in practice, in traffic. He’s done it before. He’s a good solid punt catcher.” Harbaugh admitted Stallworth could be the guy to return punts against the Fins. “It would just have to be something where we feel like he’d be our best option. I’d say that’s a possibility.”
Harbaugh also acknowledged that WR Derrick Mason has offered to help out with punt returns. “I would say it’s an option” said Harbaugh. “It’s probably not the first guy that I’m gonna think to put out there, but if it turns out he’s the best choice, we’re willing to do it.” Harbaugh did say he does not “anticipate” Mason being involved at punt returner against the Dolphins.
MASON DOWNPLAYS PINKIE SURGERY: Mason was quick to downplay the significance of a surgical procedure he had during the team’s bye week to repair an injured pinkie finger.
“They put a pin in” said Mason. “Hopefully it’ll be good for Sunday-I know it will-but if not we’ll just tape it up and go.”
Mason had been dealing with the injury for a few weeks.
“It was something I needed. I couldn’t go the whole season without it, I played two games with it, so I figured the best time to get it fixed now was the bye week so I could get some extra days to rest and allow the swelling to go down.”
Mason said he has already caught footballs since having the surgery.
NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Mason, Stallworth and TE Todd Heap NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net……Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf will call Sunday’s game for CBS (WJZ 13 locally)……RB Matt Lawrence told WNST.net he has received no information from the team as to what is in store for his future. Lawrence has not returned to practice after missing the first six weeks of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Harbaugh said a decision on Lawrence could come as early as Wednesday or not until next week……CB Fabian Washington would not discuss whether or not he would definitely start Sunday’s game when asked by reporters. Washington was torched for three touchdowns in the team’s 37-34 OT win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 7……The Ravens will be off tomorrow-the NFL’s mandatory day off. They will return to practice Wednesday.