OWINGS MILLS — The injury concerns swirling around Baltimore Ravens star free safety Ed Reed have taken a new direction, out of the state of Maryland.
Reed sought a second opinion on his hip injury Wednesday, consulting with orthopedic specialist John Uribe in Coral Gables, Fla.
The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been sidelined for the past three games with an injury that coach John Harbaugh has described as a strain and is currently listed as a groin injury on the official injury report.
Reed, who also has a chronic nerve impingement of his neck and shoulder and a foot injury, is regarded as a question mark for Sunday’s key game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We just want to exhaust ever precaution to make sure that our guys are healthy and they’re ready to go,” Harbaugh said. “We feel like he is making progress and know there’s a chance he’ll play. We’ll just have to see how it shakes out. We’ll know more, though, when he gets back.”
If Reed can’t start, then Tom Zbikowski would start in his place again.
Meanwhile, long snapper Matt Katula is dealing with an elbow issue that’s listed as a forearm problem.
Katula, who had two high snaps in a 31-7 victory over the Chicago Bears with one leading to kicker Billy Cundiff missing a chip-shot field goal, didn’t practice. He’s listed on the injury report with a forearm injury.
As a precautionary measure, the Ravens signed long snapper Nick Sundberg to the practice squad.
“He’s had some elbow issues during the course of the year, just a little tendinitis or something there,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think that’s it because I see him snap time and time again good ones.
“I think he just got a little juiced up a little bit and fired the thing high. It happened one other time. He’s very capable of being on the money. He’s a quality snapper, and I know Billy has got a lot of confidence in him.”
Sundberg, who played at Cal, was with the Carolina Panthers this summer as a rookie free agent before being cut.
“I’ll get it fixed,” Katula said of the snapping issues, which are caused by overuse.
Offensive tackle Jared Gaither (foot) is another injury concern along with linebacker Tavares Gooden (groin) with neither practicing Wednesday.
The following players were limited in practice: center Matt Birk (neck), wide receiver Mark Clayton (knee), safety K..J. Gerard (hamstring), tight end Todd Heap (chest), linebacker Jarret Johnson (knee), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained right ankle), defensive tackle Kelly Talavou (knee) and wide receiver Kelley Washington (ankle).
“It’s getting better,” Clayton said. “I think I’m definitely going to be able to play.”
Washington was noncommittal.
“Every day, it’s getting better,” he said. “If it’s good enough, I’ll be out there.”
Tight end L.J. Smith (sprained ankle) participated fully.
WEBB UPDATE: Rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb might not be back until training camp after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against the Bears.
Placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Webb’s best-case scenario would be returning by the final minicamps during the offseason.
And the worst-case scenario would entail him beginning the 2010 season on the physically unable to perform list, requiring him to miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season.
“We don’t know right now,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a chance because he’s young and he’s a little bit lighter, you don’t carry as much weight around, he could be back practicing in training camp.”
Harbaugh confirmed that Webb only has a torn ACL and no other ligament damage.
IVY GETTING ACCLIMATED: Corey Ivy has a perspective unlike any other player slated to play in Sunday’s game against the Steelers.
After spending the past three seasons in Baltimore, he was playing for the Steelers during the Ravens’ 20-17 overtime win on Nov. 29.
“In this game, you never know what’s going to happen,” Ivy said. “You have to be ready whenever your number is called. Hopefully, you can come in and contribute. It’s been a whirlwind, but that’s part of the NFL and you just have to take it in stride.
“It is Pittsburgh, which makes it a little more exciting. A couple of weeks ago I was on the other side of the fence coming back to Baltimore.. It should be an exciting time come Sunday.”
Ivy, 32, is regarded as a physical special-teams contributor and reserve defensive back. He has recorded 209 career tackles, 9 ½ sacks, three interceptions, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery to go with his 97 special-teams tackles.
“He understands how to play in the slot as a nickel in our defense, knows the calls, knows the structure, knows how we pattern reads,” Harbaugh said. “Plus he’s in great shape.”
Ivy wasn’t retained by the Ravens after last season following last season and signed with the Cleveland Browns.
Cut prior to the start of the regular season, he has been on multiple tryouts, including the Cincinnati Bengals and the Ravens. The Ravens had him run the 40-yard dash during his tryout.
The Ravens chose Ivy over cornerback Travis Fisher, who also tried out Tuesday.
They evaluated former Baltimore Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, but ultimately decided to pass due to concerns about his mobility and health.
“I guess I fit whatever they were looking for to come back and help make the playoff push,” Ivy said. “I’m just going to do the best that I can.”
The Ravens are glad to have Ivy back on the field along with his toughness and his sense of humor.
“He’s going to lighten it up around here a little bit,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He’s a great locker room guy. We’re glad he’s back.
“Brings a little toughness, you might need that pit bull in the playoffs. We might need a scrappy little corner like that.”
RETURN GAME: Chris Carr is slated to start at cornerback on Sunday as Webb’s replacement.
It’s unclear, though, if he’ll see his normal allotment of playing time in the return game.
Carr is the Ravens’ primary punt returner. And Webb was handling kickoffs after replacing Carr earlier this season.
“We’ll have some other options we’ll be building,” Harbaugh said. “He’s still our primary guy, but we have some other options there.”
The Ravens could look at reserve running backs Willis McGahee and Jalen Parmele on kickoff returns.
Besides Carr, safety Tom Zbikowski is the most qualified punt returner.
“Of course, I want to be out there doing everything,” Carr said. “I want to do kickoff returns and punt returns as well. Hopefully, I get to do everything.”
QUICK HITS: Cornerback Domonique Foxworth was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting two passes against the Bears. “It’s nice,” he said. “It’s cool. I don’t know what to do with that, but it’s all right.” …Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (hamstring), safety Troy Polamalu (knee), running back Willie Parker (knee), cornerback Anthony Madison (illness) and defensive end Brett Keisel (neck) all didn’t practice. Polamalu said he won’t be able to practice this week, let alone play on Sunday. He has missed the past five games. … The Ravens’ players voted in strong safety Dawan Landry as the winner of the annual Ed Block Courage Award. Landry came back to start his season after suffering a spinal cord concussion last year and undergoing neck surgery. … According to a team official, the Seattle Seahawks haven’t requested permission to interview director of player personnel Eric DeCosta for their general manager position. … Safety Eric Fitzhugh, who joined the Ravens on Tuesday after being signed off the New York Jets’ practice squad, said that Jets coach Rex Ryan recommended he go to Baltimore. “I’m excited to get activated and play with the Ravens, and , before I left, I talked to Rex and he gave his blessing,” Fitzhugh said. “I want to come down here and show what I got and work hard. I didn’t even know they were looking at me. Coach Harbaugh said they had their eye on me for a little while. I appreciate the opportunity they’re giving me. I’ll be on special teams Sunday.” … Harbaugh said the team hopes to re-sign defensive back Marcus Paschal, who was cut Tuesday.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.