Gaither won't need surgery but won't rush back

Tackle is focused on returning ot 100 percent before playing

August 24, 2010|By Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Jared Gaither said he will not require surgery on his injured back, but also insisted that he will not return to the field until he is completely healthy.

Gaither said Tuesday he has been diagnosed with a thoracic disc injury, a condition involving a herniated disc in the upper back that can cause, among other symptoms, pain and numbness. Gaither's account differs slightly from the organization's assertion that the Ravens offensive tackle was dealing with a tear in his back that was causing his back spasms.

Gaither said he has discussed treatment options which center on rest and rehabilitation, not surgery. But Gaither also said that he will not rush the process.

"Nothing's going to accelerate my return but healthiness," he said. "Whenever I'm 100 percent, that's really the only thing that will get me back on the field. This is my back, and you need that for life. The only thing that can get me back on the field is [being] 100 percent healthy."

Gaither has not practiced since Aug. 5, and the source of the injury wasn't discovered until he met with a back specialist in California seven days later. Gaither said the mystery of his ailment puzzled him.

"Real frustrating," he said of his mindset. "There's not much you can do to help it. There's just kind of a waiting process that you have to do, and that's basically what I've been doing. I'm trying to rehab as much as I can, two or three times a day and just stick with Bill T. [trainer Bill Tessendorf] and the rest of the training staff and really get worked on."

Without Gaither, the team started Oniel Cousins at right tackle in the preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 12 and Tony Moll against the Washington Redskins last Saturday night.

Gaither said doctors have not outlined a timetable for his return, and he didn't seem rushed to come back sooner rather than later.

"It's more of a matter of time and as soon as I feel better, then I'll be out in the field," he said.

Kindle's progress

Rookie linebacker Sergio Kindle is "ahead of schedule" and hasn't been ruled out for the season, according to the team.

Kindle, the team's top draft pick in the 2010 draft, is scheduled to meet with neurologists in Baltimore at the end of next week. He fractured his skull in late July when he fell down two flights of stairs.

Because he is unsigned, Kindle can't meet with team officials or come to Ravens headquarters. The team is likely awaiting a prognosis on Kindle before it restarts contract negotiations.

Kindle — who will start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which means he will miss at least the first six weeks of the season — has recently begun to work out, according to coach John Harbaugh.

"Based on what I've been told — and some of this comes from Sergio, who is very optimistic — but also from the doctors who say he's ahead of schedule," Harbaugh said Tuesday. "He's really recovering very quickly, which is really encouraging. That's why we want to make sure we get him here and have all the doctors compare notes with the people down in Dallas and see exactly where he's at."

Practice update

In addition to the injury-plagued offensive line, the Ravens defensive line dipped a little in depth.

During the portion of Tuesday's practice open to the media, defensive end Cory Redding and rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody were absent. Defensive tackle Brandon McKinney made an appearance, but he wore sweatpants and walked very slowly to the practice field behind the team's complex in Owings Mills.

The offensive line continued to practice without offensive tackles Oniel Cousins (concussion) and Gaither and center/guard David Hale (bruised tailbone).

Wide receiver Demetrius Williams (sprained right ankle) and safety Marcus Paschal (right leg) also did not practice. Wide receiver Marcus Smith was not present during the portion of practice open to the media.

Webb likely to be limited

After his first practice, Lardarius Webb said he isn't rehabbing to come back and play one area of the game. But Harbaugh has other plans for the cornerback, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Dec. 20.

Harbaugh said Webb's role will be restricted to defense early and perhaps for the entire season. Webb played a major role on special teams last season, covering punts as the gunner and returning kickoffs. He ranked ninth in the NFL on kickoff returns, averaging 26.2 yards and running one back for 95-yard touchdown.

Asked about Webb returning kicks this season, Harbaugh said, "Certainly not early. I really don't think so this year just coming off an ACL. Now, he'll be a backup if we have to put him out there. But we have Jalen Parmele and we've got some other candidates [for kickoff returns]. I think we're going to be very cautious with Lardarius that way. He loves to play."

Harbaugh, though, said his stance could change later in the season. "We're trying to win games," he said. "But we're going to err on the side … that we don't put him at undue risk."

End zone

Cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who underwent surgery on Aug. 10 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, walked around the team's practice facility without the use of crutches. … The club is in negotiations to find a home for its post-game show for the upcoming season.

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