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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Facing arguably their most difficult home test of the season when the Green Bay Packers travel to Baltimore on Sunday, the Ravens appear to be moving toward the healthiest state they’ve experienced since the start of the season.
Coach John Harbaugh said that left guard Kelechi Osemele felt better on Monday after back spasms forced him out of Sunday’s game in Miami after the Ravens’ first offensive series. Osemele was replaced by backup center A.Q. Shipley in the starting lineup as he rested his back in the 26-23 win over the Dolphins.
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones will practice for the second straight week and could see his first game action since suffering a medial collateral strain in his right knee in the season opener on Sept. 5. The Pro Bowl return specialist practiced on a limited basis all last week, but the Ravens elected to hold him out for Week 5 while bringing him back slowly.
Trying to determine Jones’ role will be an interesting decision for Harbaugh and the Ravens as wide receiver Tandon Doss has handled punt return duties admirably while speedy wideout Deonte Thompson provides a compelling option for kickoff returns. Their versatility may allow Baltimore to use Jones primarily as a wide receiver while he works his way back to 100 percent or the veteran could see a diminished role offensively with other young receivers such as Thompson making recent progress.
“That’s the question we’re asking ourselves right now,” Harbaugh said. “It probably depends on how he looks during practices. If he looks really good, we’d be willing to put him out there. But if we feel like we need to protect him, then we will.”
In addition to Jones, Harbaugh said he expects rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown to return to practice as early as Wednesday after he was held out of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.
Defensive end Marcus Spears continues to receive treatment for a knee injury that flared up late last week before he was ruled inactive for Week 5. Harbaugh confirmed there is no structural damage and described the veteran defensive lineman as “day to day.”
Harbaugh also provided favorable reports on cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and rookie linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain), who both played in Miami and experienced no setbacks in the process. Running back Ray Rice continues to get better as well in his second game back from the hip flexor strain suffered on Sept. 15.
Meanwhile, the Packers are dealing with a serious injury concern as linebacker Clay Matthews is expected to miss the next month with a broken thumb, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This would certainly aid the Baltimore offense in trying to keep up with Green Bay’s high-octane offensive attack in a game in which the Ravens will likely need to score significant points.
Harbaugh noncommittal on Monroe-McKinnie status
All signs point to newly-acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe to take veteran Bryant McKinnie’s place in the starting lineup this week, but Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand on Monday afternoon.
Monroe was ruled inactive for the Miami game after having just two days of practice time after the trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars was completed on Thursday. McKinnie’s poor performance against the Dolphins didn’t do him any favors in keeping his job, and it would be surprising if Monroe wasn’t playing after more than a week to improve by the time Sunday’s game rolls around.
“We’re in wait-and-see mode right now. We’ll see what happens over the course of the week,” Harbaugh said. “[We] don’t really know for sure right now. [Monroe] looked good last week; he looked really good. We’re just going to have to see how it plays out. This is uncharted territory for us, it really is. We’ve never been down this road before.”
It remains unclear whether the Ravens would seriously consider trading McKinnie, because one of the big concerns prior to the acquisition of Monroe was the lack of depth on the offensive line, a problem that would continue to exist should the 34-year-old lineman be moved elsewhere.
No decision on Stokley yet
A second media report Monday suggested that the Ravens will re-sign veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley this week after he was cut on Saturday to make room for veteran tight end Billy Bajema.
Stokley has been dealing with a groin injury that sidelined him in Week 4 and prompted the Ravens to let him go with an understanding that he would still be in their plans moving forward. However, you have to wonder how secure his spot will be moving forward with the Ravens getting much healthier and deeper at wide receiver than they’ve been since training camp.
Harbaugh wasn’t in a position to comment on Stokley’s status during his Monday press conference.
“I don’t know how that’s going to shake out,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see.”