S. Smith closer to re­turn

Elam is ‘foot­ball-ready’; CB Lewis-Har­ris added; Will Davis re­leased

Baltimore Sun - - NFL & RAVENS - By Jeff Zrebiec jeff.zrebiec@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jef­fzre­biec­sun

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.

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