The much-anticipated return of Ravens nose tackle Kelly Gregg has been delayed at least two weeks and perhaps longer.
Coach John Harbaugh announced yesterday that Gregg will miss the next two games and will be "week-to-week" after that.
Gregg, 31, injured his left knee in July during training camp, underwent arthroscopic surgery in early August and has worked tirelessly since to return to the lineup.
"What it amounts to is, he's got kind of a hole in his cartilage that rubs a little bit bone to bone," Harbaugh said. "Because of that, he's got a real sensitive spot on his bone. It's when he unloads on a block, that's when he feels the pain on it. It's almost like a scab on your bone and it tears the scab off, so we've got to basically ice him."
The nine-year veteran was unavailable for comment.
Gregg has been a durable, unheralded defender in 102 games with the Ravens. He missed just two games in the past six years, and coming into the season has the most tackles of any interior defensive linemen in the NFL since 2002.
He will miss tomorrow's home game against the Cleveland Browns and the Week 4 Monday night game at Pittsburgh.
His replacement, veteran tackle Justin Bannan, had a big game in the team's season-opening victory against the Cincinnati Bengals with a sack, a quarterback hurry and three tackles. Bannan's backup is Lamar Divens, a rookie from Tennessee State.
Bannan is in his third season with the Ravens - and seventh in the NFL - after signing as a free agent in 2006.
"When we brought Justin in, it was to be a starter," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "So we thought he was a starter in this league and we liked the way he played, and we still do.
"April came around and we ended up drafting some guy out of Oregon [Haloti Ngata], and somebody had to go on the bench. ... Justin's an excellent player in his own right. We are very fortunate to have him."
Originally a sixth-round pick by the Bengals in 1999, Gregg, 6 feet, 310 pounds, is second on the Ravens in all-time tackles with 618.
"We definitely miss him," Ngata said. "He does a great job holding up those blocks ... [but] Justin Bannan does a great job, and we've been fine."
NOTES: Ed Hochuli, who missed a call that allowed the Denver Broncos to beat the San Diego Chargers last week, will referee tomorrow's game. ... The Ravens listed cornerback Fabian Washington (neck) as doubtful for the Browns and linebacker Nick Greisen (leg) as questionable. Greisen first appeared on the injury list Thursday, when he was limited in practice. Special teams standout and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday or yesterday but is listed as probable.
Tomorrow, 4:15 p.m.
TV: Ch. 13
Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Ravens by 2 1/2