OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After saying days earlier he didn’t expect to see injured inside linebacker Ray Lewis around the Ravens’ training facility for a while, coach John Harbaugh was surprised to see the 37-year-old walking around the building on Friday.
Making his first appearance at the team’s Owings Mills facility while recovering from surgery on a torn triceps suffered on Oct. 14, Lewis visited his teammates in the locker room and watched the Ravens’ final practice of the week as they prepared for Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.
Lewis was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return should he be able to make the unlikeliest of comebacks in time for a potential playoff run in January. However, the 17th-year linebacker revealed to teammates that his return isn’t as unlikely as most want to think.
“It’s great to see the leader, the general of your army, out there,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He let us know he’s on pace to come back. If we handle business, he’ll be back in a Ravens uniform this year. We have to do our part though.”
Lewis has been rehabbing in Florida and Arizona since having the surgical procedure to repair the triceps in his right arm. He was in town for his photography gala at Maryland Art Place on Friday night, but it remains unclear whether Lewis will be on the sideline to watch Sunday’s game.
Harbaugh said Monday he didn’t expect the linebacker to return to the Owings Mills facility on a full-time basis for a while but expressed full confidence in the rehabilitation plan put together by Lewis and the doctors. The future Hall of Fame linebacker didn’t meet with reporters on Friday, citing his preference to advance further in the recovery process before talking publicly.
“It’s truly great to be back with my teammates,” Lewis said in a statement released by the team. “I’ve really missed these guys and the feel of being around the team and in the locker room. I am focused on rehabbing and getting my arm and body as strong as they can be. I will speak in person when I know a little more about my progress.
“I’m working hard and looking forward to coming back and helping this team. But right now, the focus should be on the guys playing, and I’ll be the biggest cheerleader I can be for them.”
Lewis offered a speech following Friday’s practice as he has many times throughout his storied career. In addition to his play on the field, Lewis’ leadership and cerebral presence in meeting rooms and on the sideline have been missed since he’s spent the first weeks following surgery away from Baltimore.
“It’s good to have him around,” right guard Marshal Yanda said. “He’s the leader of this team. He’s good to have around the guys. Even though he’s not playing, he’s still a leader off the field as well.”