Last year, after injuring his toe in a Week 10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Ray Lewis was forced to turn from linebacker to cheerleader as he would be sidelined for the next four weeks. In the wake of his absence, the Ravens would not falter, beating the Bengals, 49ers, Browns and Colts.
This season, Lewis tore his triceps in a Week 6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Lewis played six plays after injuring himself late in the game and many Ravens fans thought they may have seen Ray Lewis dance out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium for at least the last time in 2012, if not ever.
However, the Ravens elected to use a new version of Injured Reserve that allows a player to be designated to return. The designation allows the player to return to the active roster after missing a minimum of six weeks. Despite a blowout loss in Lewis’ first missed game to the Houston Texans, the Ravens have been perfect since, totaling a 4-1 record during the absence of the future Hall of Famer.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Silver, at least six sources have told him that Lewis is expected to return before the end of the 2012 season, with a target of the Dec. 16 matchup against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
A source told Silver that Lewis has been treating his triceps injury with platelet-rich plasma therapy and Lewis could possibly practice the first day he is eligible to be removed from Injured Reserve, which is this coming Thursday, November 29.
The designation to return is a new option for Injured Reserve, which allows a player to return from a major injury after missing a minimum of six weeks. The move allows a team to free an active roster spot in the absence of a player who has been injured but may have the chance to return in the same season. Without this new designation for 2012 season, it’s doubtful the Ravens would have kept Lewis on the active roster and he would have been lost for the season.
Many would be skeptical to see Lewis on the practice field as early as Thursday, given the severity of his injury, but stranger things have happened this season when it comes to injuries (See: Suggs, Terrell).