With eight players shelved with injuries as the Ravens entered their Week 5 bye, the early-season respite was viewed as the perfect elixir to build upon a 3-1 start and an early lead in the AFC North.
However, after coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism last week that the Ravens would have their full regiment of players available against the Houston Texans on Sunday, the early post-bye prognosis had mixed results following Monday’s practice. The week’s first official injury report will not be released until Wednesday afternoon, but the biggest headline was the revelation that rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith would likely miss his fourth straight game while recovering from a high ankle sprain.
The status of others, including starting left guard Ben Grubbs (toe) and starting wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), remains in question. Grubbs and Evans reportedly practiced on Monday, but both players must wait to see how their bodies respond after long layoffs. Grubbs practiced on a limited basis on the Thursday prior to the Jets game in his only work since the Ravens’ season-opening win over Pittsburgh. Evans has not practiced or played since the Week 2 loss to the Titans.
“I haven’t really gotten anything definitive,” said Harbaugh in assessing the overall health picture. “And, as a coach, you hope for something on Monday that would be somewhat definitive, and there’s nothing there. So, we’re in a wait-and-see mode. Probably won’t give away much anyway as the week goes on, but as of right now, I don’t know who’s going to be back. A couple of guys practiced, a couple of guys didn’t. We’ll just have to see where we’re at.”
The Ravens also hope to see the returns of cornerback Chris Carr (hamstring), safety Haruki Nakamura (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), return specialist David Reed (shoulder), and safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion). Nakamura and Reed did some work during Monday’s practice, but Zbikowski’s status remains a concern after sustaining a concussion in the 34-17 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 2.
“I would like to be able to have an answer [on Zbikowski] for you, not that I would necessarily tell you, but with concussions, I have no idea,” Harbaugh said. “Until the doctor says he is cleared, you just go, ‘OK, see you when you are cleared.’ He has not been cleared yet.”
It’s unknown whether Carr or Ellerbe practiced on Monday, as neither were available for comment following practice.