S. Smith closer to return
Elam is ‘football-ready’; CB Lewis-Harris added; Will Davis released
Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. took a significant step Friday toward returning to the field for the Ravens’ key matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Smith, who has missed the past two games after hurting his right ankle Oct. 9 against the Washington Redskins, was listed on the game’s final injury report as questionable after he was a full participant in Friday’s practice. He also practiced on a limited basis a day earlier.
“We’ll just see where he is,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I just wait for the trainers to say [something], and the player, of course. It’s that type of a thing, too. When everybody says the player is ready to go, we put him out there.”
Smith hasn’t been available to comment, but the sense around the team is that, assuming his ankle held up through practice this week, he’ll play Sunday. That would be a significant development for a struggling Ravens passing game.
The Ravens are also poised to get back left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and C.J. Mosley (hamstring). Those four, along with defensive backs Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Tavon Young (concussion), were listed as questionable, but they are expected to play.
The Ravens did rule out tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh) and linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and Kamalei Correa ( thigh). Cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) was listed as doubtful.
For the Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (knee) was listed as questionable, but reports out of Pittsburgh indicate that the veteran will play Sunday less than three weeks after having knee surgery. Elam primed for return: The Ravens haven’t made it official — and they’ll have until 4 p.m. today to do so — but safety Matt Elam sounded like a player preparing to make his 2016 regular-season debut Sunday.
“It’s a blessing, man. I can’t wait,” Elam said while seated in front of his locker after Friday’s practice. “To come back [with] the first game against the Steelers, it’s very exciting.”
Elam, the team’s 2013 first-round pick, hasn’t played in a game since the 2014 divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots. He spent the entire 2015 season on injured reserve after tearing his biceps early in training camp. He had a strong start to training camp this year, but he hurt his knee in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts and the injury required surgery.
The Ravens put him on IR, keeping the door open for him to return later this year. He’s practiced the past two weeks, and Harbaugh on Friday declared Elam “football-ready and physically and mentally ready to play well in a game.” Cornerback shuffle: In a shuffle of cornerbacks, the Ravens cut Will Davis on Friday and were awarded former Cincinnati Bengal Chris Lewis-Harris through a waiver claim.
Lewis-Harris, 27, was released by the Bengals on Thursday after spending parts of five seasons with the AFC North team.
A 2012 undrafted free agent out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Lewis-Harris has played in 26 games and got his first interception earlier this season.
Davis, who was trying to come back from his second torn ACL in as many seasons, was active for three games for the Ravens this season, playing 54 defensive snaps.
He received his most extensive action when Jimmy Smith and Jerraud Powers went down in the Ravens’ Oct. 16 loss to the New York Giants. Davis had four tackles and an interception that day, but he was also beaten for a 75-yard touchdown catch by Odell Beckham Jr. in the third quarter.
The Ravens traded a 2016 seventhround draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for Davis in September 2015. Waller remains optimistic: Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t just telling young tight end Darren Wal- ler what he expected: He was demonstrating it, too. As Flacco jogged through a route after Wednesday’s practice, Waller watched intently from about 5 yards away.
“There have been changes to the terminology and kind of like little things with how you run routes since [offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg] took over. I’m just trying to get on the same page with them,” Waller said. “There are some routes that I haven’t necessarily run that much and they want to see what I can do with those. Joe has definitely been helping me out with where he wants me to be and how fast he wants to get out there.”
Waller, a second-year player out of Georgia Tech who was converted from a wide receiver this offseason, has played three games since returning from a four-game suspension, and he’s yet to make a catch. He’s also played only 37 offensive snaps compared with 64 on special teams. But the role of the 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end could increase Sunday with Gillmore out with a thigh injury.
“He’s obviously a big, talented guy,” Harbaugh said of Waller. “We’re working very hard toward that. We want to get him involved. He’s coming from ground zero really as a tight end. And he missed the first four weeks of the season. We’re working very hard at it.” End zone: Nose tackle Brandon Williams was named this week’s National Football League Players Association Community Most Valuable Player for his work as the ambassador and spokesman for the Maryland Food Bank’s #FeedTheFlock food collection efforts and with the Westport Boys and Girls Club. … Tony Siragusa will be the Ravens’ “Legend of the Game” on Sunday. … Sunday will be the Ravens’ “Salute to Service” game, and festivities will include a flyover from the Maryland National Guard.