OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens released their final injury report of the week on Saturday with the expected news that wide receiver Lee Evans and guard Ben Grubbs would be out again after not practicing all week in preparation for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday night.
However, rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith is probable to play after missing the last four games with a high ankle sprain sustained early in the Ravens’ season-opening win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. Smith practiced fully for the second straight day on Saturday and appears more likely to play than fellow cornerback Chris Carr, who is listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis all week.
“I feel good,” Smith said before the injury report was released. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to play this game, but I feel good. I mean, I’m optimistic like I said before, [but] I really don’t know what the coach is going to do with it.”
Many have speculated whether the Ravens should play Smith against the Jaguars, who are ranked last in the league in passing offense, or hold him out to get another week of practice under his belt before returning to action against the Arizona Cardinals next week. Coach John Harbaugh is weighing the risks and rewards with the idea that the rookie cornerback will need time to re-adjust to the speed of the professional game.
The Ravens are ranked seventh in pass defense despite Smith and Carr missing most of the season to this point. Is that a factor to consider in giving Smith an extra week to heal?
“That’s probably part of it, but the other side of the coin is you want to get a young guy out there playing,” Harbaugh said. “He needs to play too; he hasn’t played much. He played very little in the preseason. I think that’s going to be tough for him. Both of those things go through our minds.”
Evans will miss his fourth straight game and will be replaced once again by rookie Torrey Smith in the starting lineup. Andre Gurode will make his fourth straight start at left guard with Grubbs having not played since the season opener. Harbaugh feels the frustration shared by fans regarding the status of the Ravens’ two offensive starters.
“It’s just probably slower than any of us imagine that those guys would be,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting in there and try to get them back. I think it’s going to be one day we’re going to walk in here and they’re going to go through a full practice and they’re going to feel good and they’ll be ready to go. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.”
Grubbs’ injury has drawn comparisons to former Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden, whose toe ailment contributed to an early exit to a certain Hall of Fame career in 2007. Harbaugh had previously said in mid-September that an MRI showed no structural damage or long-term concern regarding Grubbs’ right toe, and the Ravens coach stood by that claim on Saturday.
“Still waiting for him to respond,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the process of getting the swelling out, getting the bruising out, and the healing process that takes place. I know that’s pretty vague, but that’s the best I can do.”
Still not cleared for contact after sustaining a concussion on Oct. 2, safety Tom Zbikowski is listed as doubtful and likely to miss his second straight game as he continues to deal with symptoms. The strong safety practiced on a limited basis on Saturday and said it was a good day for him in terms of not feeling the effects of the concussion.
Zbikowski is listed behind Bernard Pollard at strong safety on the Ravens’ official depth chart.
“Obviously, it’s never as fast as you want it to be,” Zbikowski said. “You want to be back as soon as you can, but once again, it’s a brain injury. It’s not a hamstring injury or something like that where you make it a little worse — it’s something I’m taking a pretty good precaution on before I get out there.”
Return specialist David Reed was the only new addition to Saturday’s injury report after being limited with a finger injury in the final practice of the week. He is listed as probable on the official injury report for Monday’s game, but the condition could factor heavily in the decision whether he or Bryan McCann handles kickoff return duties.
OUT – WR Lee Evans (ankle), G Ben Grubbs (toe), RB Anthony Allen (thigh), LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh)
DOUBTFUL – S Tom Zbikowski (head)
QUESTIONABLE – CB Chris Carr (thigh)
PROBABLE – CB Jimmy Smith (ankle), WR David Reed (finger), LB Jarret Johnson (back)
OUT – S Courtney Greene (hamsting)
DOUBTFUL – T Eben Britton (back)
QUESTIONABLE – G Jason Spitz (quad)
PROBABLE – DT Tyson Alualu (knee), CB Derek Cox (groin), S Dawan Landry (thigh), T Eugene Monroe (shoulder), WR Kassim Osgood (hamstring), RB Montell Owens (knee), G Will Rackley (knee), LB Clint Session (elbow), T Guy Whimper (hip)