OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After coach John Harbaugh offered an optimistic outlook for the Ravens’ health earlier in the week, Wednesday’s practice confirmed his feelings as outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was the only notable player not to participate.
The rush specialist injured his ankle in the second quarter of last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but returned early in the second half to finish the game. Harbaugh said Dumervil looked OK on Monday but hinted that he might be limited during practices this week before expressing confidence that all players who were nicked up in last Thursday’s game would be able to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith (head) practiced on a limited basis after being cleared by doctors after completing the league’s concussion protocol. The third-year defensive back appeared woozy while walking off the field following the violent collision with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the fourth quarter.
“Jimmy is becoming one of the top corners in the National Football League by the way he is playing,” said Harbaugh on the importance of Smith being cleared. “The numbers bear that out, and the film bears it out. It’s important to our football team, and I really like the way he is playing.”
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (knee) was also practicing on a limited basis despite injuring his left knee in the second quarter of the Pittsburgh game and not returning. Harbaugh said the 37-year-old veteran suffered no structural damage to his knee.
Dennis Pitta was also taking part in Wednesday’s practice as Harbaugh said he was “pretty hopeful” that the fourth-year tight end would be able to make his 2013 season debut on Sunday. The sense is Pitta’s activity level will be increased this week to see how his surgically-repaired hip responds to contact and team-related activity before the Ravens will make a decision on his status at the end of the week.
According to quarterback Joe Flacco, Pitta was limited to just individual work in the week leading up to the game against the New York Jets. Last week’s abbreviated schedule that consisted of only walk-throughs leading up to the Pittsburgh game eliminated any chance of Pitta testing his hip in full-team drills, meaning there was no really chance of the tight end playing against the Steelers.
“It’s going to be just a matter of how ready he is to play and how healthy he is to play,” Harbaugh said. “With something like that, all the doctors are going to be involved. He was in New York [Tuesday]. Those things are important things. The health of the player comes first. That’s the No. 1 thing — his ability to withstand the rigors of a game. I think we’re on track that way, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”
The Ravens have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to place Pitta on the 53-man roster for him to be eligible to play against the Vikings, but his 21-day window for practicing will expire on Dec. 11, meaning the organization must put him on the active roster by then for him to be eligible to play the rest of the season.
Rookie safety Brunden Trawick was the only other player besides Dumervil who did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
Meanwhile, the Vikings haven’t made it official, but head coach Leslie Frazier indicated backup quarterback Matt Cassel is likely to start in place of concussed starter Christian Ponder, who was injured in Minnesota’s overtime win over the Chicago Bears this past Sunday.
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson also sat out Wednesday’s practice while nursing a groin issue.
Here is the full injury report for Wednesday:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (shoulder), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion), WR Brandon Stokley (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (abs)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Larry Dean (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), QB Christian Ponder (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Jared Allen (finger), LB Chad Greenway (wrist)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), DT Fred Evans (knee), DE Everson Griffen (toe), S Andrew Sendejo (toe)