OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For the first time since injuring his left ankle on kickoff coverage early in the season opener against Pittsburgh, rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith returned to the practice field on Thursday in what amounts to a very good sign for the Ravens secondary.
Moving around quickly and hitting a blocking sled without any visible limitation, Baltimore’s first-round draft pick appears close to returning to action after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Steelers and missing the last four games. While it’s far from a sure thing that Smith would return to action this Monday night against Jacksonville, the talented 6-foot-2 cornerback moving around so well on the practice field is a welcome sign, especially with a rematch with the Steelers in Pittsburgh only two weeks away.
Smith was joined by fellow cornerback Chris Carr in returning to the practice field after the veteran has missed the last two games with the same injured left hamstring that’s limited him since the middle of August. Carr had returned to action against the St. Louis Rams before experiencing a setback in a practice leading up to the game against the Jets and has been out ever since.
Tom Zbikowski (concussion) is still not cleared for contact, but has been doing limited work and was seen wearing a helmet during the open portion of practice on Thursday. The safety has also been seen walking around the Ravens’ Owings Mills facility while wearing a pair of sunglasses due to his eyes still being sensitive to light.
“I think he’s feeling better,” coach John Harbaugh said. “With concussions, they’re just very unpredictable.”
The news wasn’t so good on wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), guard Ben Grubbs (toe), and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), who were not present during the open portion of practice. Linebacker Jarret Johnson (undisclosed) was not working during practice, but the veteran was present on the field, indicating he might have been given a day off to deal with soreness as the Ravens have done with center Matt Birk in the past.
Evans was in the locker room during the team’s morning walk-through, not exactly a great indication of his chances for returning to the field this Monday night against the Jaguars.