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Ray Lewis visits Ravens teammates at practice

Ray Lewis visits Ravens teammates at practice

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens received a surprise visit from injured star Ray Lewis, who was placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list over three weeks ago.

The 17-year veteran linebacker, rehabbing a torn right triceps away from the Ravens' team facility, wasn't expected to return to the team at this juncture of the season. However, Lewis is in town for a scheduled appearance Friday night and decided to catch the Ravens practicing during the day.

Lewis did not speak to the media Friday but released a statement saying he's happy to return to the team.

``I've really missed these guys and the feel of being around the team and in the locker room,'' Lewis said. ``I am focused on rehabbing and getting my arm and body as strong as they can be.

``I will speak in person when I know a little more about my progress. I'm working hard and looking forward to coming back and helping this team. But right now, the focus should be on the guys playing, and I'll be the biggest cheerleader I can be for them.''

The visit surprised coach John Harbaugh, who acknowledged he was unaware Lewis would be stopping by. Following Friday's practice, Lewis gave one of his signature speeches to help motivate his team for Sunday's game against Oakland.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who came back from an Achilles tear three weeks ago, said Lewis let them know he's preparing to come back later this season as long as the Ravens can make a playoff run.

``It's great to see the leader, the general of your army, out there,'' Suggs said. ``He let us know he's on pace to come back. If we handle business he'll be back in a Ravens uniform this year. We have to do our part, though.''

Through six games, Lewis recorded 57 tackles, which is still second-best on the roster and only behind safety Bernard Pollard. After the injury, Lewis was replaced in the starting lineup by Dannell Ellerbe, who's led the Ravens in tackles the past two games with nine in each contest.

Lewis is eligible to return to practice after six weeks and game action after eight weeks.

Though Suggs seemed optimistic based on Lewis' words in his post-practice speech, Harbaugh said the organization doesn't have a timetable yet for when Lewis could return.

``There's no way for us to know enough about how far along he is or how he's doing,'' Harbaugh said. ``We'll just have to see how it goes, in all honesty.''

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LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

OWINGS MILLS – Add outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith to the list of Ravens not expected to play Saturday night. Head coach John Harbaugh said Smith had an ankle issue that would keep him out against the Lions. Smith was not at practice Thursday.

Others not expected to play against the Lions include outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, left guard John Urschel, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams, safety Kendrick Lewis, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Jerraud Powers, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. All of them are at various stages of dealing with injuries.

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Perriman returned to practice this week, but head coach John Harbaugh did not commit to playing Perriman after Thursday’s walkthrough practice.

“We’ll see, it’s up to the doctors,” Harbaugh said of Perriman. “He hasn’t gone full speed in practice yet. Today was not a full speed practice for anybody.”

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is not expected to play either, because he just returned to practice this week after offseason foot surgery. With Suggs, Dumervil, and Smith out of the lineup, Saturday should present an opportunity for pass rushers like Matt Judon, Chris Carter, and Victor Ochi to get extra reps.

MORE RAVENS: PERRIMAN HOPES TO IMPRESS WITH SPEED AND HANDS

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Flacco looks forward to playing. Getting hit? Not so much

Flacco looks forward to playing. Getting hit? Not so much

OWINGS MILLS – Joe Flacco is looking forward to playing Saturday night, but not looking forward to getting hit.

That’s always the case, but Flacco will be watched closely than usual when he plays for the first time since his knee injury last November. Will he stand calmly in the pocket against the Lions’ pass rush? Will he step into his throws with confidence? Will he look rusty, or in sync? If Flacco’s left knee is hit, how will it react?

Flacco has felt good about the answers to all of those questions for months, and he has looked terrific in practice. But returning to game action was the last hurdle Flacco wanted to clear before the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against the Bills.

“I really don’t feel like I need to play in games to be ready to play Game 1, but I want to put myself through that whole process,” Flacco said following Thursday’s practice. “I don’t need to, but I want to. I think I’ll be better for it.”

RELATED: PERRIMAN HOPES TO IMPRESS WITH SPEED AND HANDS

Flacco said it was hard for him to sit out the first two preseason games, but he understood the logic.

“I could’ve played the first two games,” Flacco said. “Was it really worth it? Probably not. You’re (only) going to get a couple of series anyway.”

Flacco said he expected to play about a half Saturday night, which might give him a chance to build chemistry with new targets like tight end Ben Watson, and wide receivers Mike Wallace and Chris Moore, who are all expected to play.

Asked if he wanted to get hit, Flacco smiled and said, “It’d be great not to get hit. I don’t need to get hit, no.”

But at some point, Flacco wanted to test his knee in live action before the regular season began. Flacco is not expected to play the preseason finale, Sept. 1 against the Saints.

MORE RAVENS: WHO WILL GRAB HOLD OF RAVENS KICK RETURN JOB

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WR Perriman hopes to impress not only with speed, but with hands

WR Perriman hopes to impress not only with speed, but with hands

OWINGS MILLS - People often call Breshad Perriman fast. They don’t always call Perriman sure-handed.

However, criticism of Perriman’s hands may be a thing of the past, according to Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. One of the few knocks on Perriman entering the 2015 draft was that he sometimes dropped catchable balls due to a lack of concentration. However, the Ravens’ second-year wide receiver has worked hard on catching the ball consistently, even when he wasn’t able to run during his recovery from two knee injuries.

Now Perriman finally seems close to making his Ravens debut. When that happens, Trestman said he expected to see a receiver not only with impressive speed, but reliable hands.

“I think his hands and concentration have even got better since he first got here,” Trestman said. “He is much more sure-handed – not that he wasn’t – but he has become even more sure-handed. I think that goes with confidence. He just needs to get out and play and run routes and do it consistently and get some reps. He just needs reps. He has go-to speed, and he has size to go with it. It is a unique package.”

A package the Ravens are eager to unwrap.

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