OWINGS MILLS – Still unable to run and cut at his full capacity, Baltimore Ravens rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith basically ruled himself out for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.
Smith has been sidelined ever since suffering a left high ankle sprain in the season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I’m optimistic about everything, but realistically I doubt it,” Smith said. “I’ve just got to get over that last little hump, agility, moving side to side and lateral and backpedaling and planting and that stuff. That’s the final stage we’re in right now.”
“I got on the field and I ran for the first time, ran without my body weight being 100 percent. It’s not 100 percent, it’s not even 80 percent there.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh interrupted a locker room interview with Smith, reminding the first-round draft pick from Colorado to not give out details about his injury.
"Hey, hey, hey, no you’re not doing it," Harbaugh said. “You’re not asking him about his injury. He’s not telling you about his injury situation. You don’t comment about your injury. Nobody needs to know how far along you are, especially not Houston.”
However, Harbaugh had already made it clear during his own press conference that Smith wasn’t quite ready to return.
“He’s not there yet, that’s for sure,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’ll just have to see throughout the course of the week. I’ve got my fingers crossed. This was the target week, and we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Smith continues to make progress, but has hit some plateaus.
“That’s what makes it frustrating, is the fact that you get healthy and you hit a wall and you want to push past it,” he said. “But I can’t go out there and try to do something and re-injure myself.”
Meanwhile, veteran wide receiver Lee Evans returned to practice Monday after missing the past two games with a left ankle injury.
Although Evans said he feels much better, he was noncommittal on whether he’ll play Sunday.
"Hopefully, I’ll be well enough to play," Evans said. "I think we’re on the right path. It’s frustrating. I’ve never been in this situation before.
"The goal is to play without being hampered. It feels better but tomorrow might be a different story. When the time is right, I’ll be out on the field.”
Evans continues to make progress, though, from an injury that has affected him since the third preseason game and has limited him to two receptions for 45 yards this season.
“I’ve done the most since the Titans week,” Evans said. “I did some individual, and ran a few routes from quarterback. I ran some sprints and gassers. We’ll see how it reacts the next few days. I did some weight-bearing things. We’ll see what kind of residual pain I’m having and decide after that.”
Starting offensive guard Ben Grubbs practiced after being sidelined for the past three games with a right turf toe.
He took part in individual drills, but is still considered a question mark for Sunday. Andre Gurode has started in Grubbs’ place.
“It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad,” Grubbs said. “I made steps toward getting back on the field. I’m hopeful, yeah, more hopeful than I have been in the past. The question now is how it’s going to react.
“We’ll see what kind of residual pain I’m having.” I got through individual drills. I was coming off the ball well.”
Wide receiver and kick returner David Reed (separated left shoulder) is no longer in a sling and might return in the next week or two. He has been out since the Titans game after being suspended for the first game of the season for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.
He practiced Monday.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back this week," Reed said. "That’s what I’m shooting for. I’m trying to keep working, keep getting stronger, keep recovering and hopefully I can play this next Sunday. If not this week then definitely the week after.”
Reserve safety Haruki Nakamura practiced Monday on a limited basis after being out against the New York Jets with a sprained right posterior cruciate ligament.
“There’s always a chance, but it’s all about setbacks," Nakamura said. "If I have a setback, that’s horrible. If I had a setback after all the work I’ve done, I’d be really frustrated. I’m going to be patient with it. I’ve worked extremely hard to get to where I’m at today.
“I’d be really disappointed if I put myself out there and had another setback. That’s not what I want or need, but I do want to get out there this weekend. It kind of killed me to watch the Jets game. I really took advantage of the bye week. I got a lot of work done.”
Nakamura acknowledged that he might need one more week just to be safe.
“They said if I needed another week to take it,” he said. “If this was a do-or-die type game like the Super Bowl, I would play. If this was the last game of the season, I would say I’m definitely playing.”
There were no updates on the status of cornerback Chris Carr (left hamstring) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (right hamstring).
Starting strong safety Tom Zbikowski hasn’t been cleared to return to practice after sustaining a concussion against the Jets.
“With concussions, I have no idea,” Harbaugh said. “Until the doctor says he is cleared, you just go, ‘OK, see you when you are cleared.’ He has not been cleared yet.”
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times