The Ravens caught a big break by missing out on playing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is serving the final game of his four-game suspension.
But beating his replacement, Charlie Batch, hasn't been as easy as some would think. Since joining the Steelers in 2002, Batch is 4-1 as their fill-in starter. He is coming off a win at Tampa Bay, where he completed 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
"He's a guy who has won a lot of games, started a lot of games and has so much success," coach John Harbaugh said. "He really understands offensive football and fits into their package really well."
Batch's only loss as a fill-in came against the Ravens, who beat him on Dec. 30, 2007. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Ravens, though, have roughed up a lot of backup quarterbacks over the years. Since 2007, the Ravens are 10-2 against backups, including eight straight wins. That streak has featured victories over Batch, Houston's Sage Rosenfels, Cincinnati's Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kansas City's Brodie Croyle, Pittsburgh's Dennis Dixon, Detroit's Daunte Culpepper, Oakland's Charlie Frye and Cleveland's Seneca Wallace.
"It's different when you're going against a backup that might be a young guy or a rookie, like most backups," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "The fact he's been in the league for a long time, you can't look at him the same as you would a guy out of college or something like that."
Gaither returns to practice
Still bothered by a back injury, offensive tackle Jared Gaither participated in his first practice in 55 days. He was limited to light drills, but he was able to bend to get into his stance.
It could be between two to three weeks before Gaither can compete for his starting job. He would probably take over at right tackle, which would move Marshal Yanda to right guard.
"It's good to have him back out there," fullback Le'Ron McClain said. "It's just more power for that running game."
Redding dealing with head injury
Cory Redding's concussion is the second one he's sustained in the past two seasons. But the Ravens starting defensive end said this concussion isn't as bad as the one he had last season in Seattle, which forced him to miss one game.
"It's better today," said Redding, who missed Wednesday's practice. Asked what his status was for this week, Redding said, "I have none. Going at the speed of the doctors, whatever they want me to do. That's pretty much it."
With Redding possibly out, Paul Kruger is hopeful he can play his first game of the season. He is the only healthy defensive end on the roster. Last season, Kruger helped win a November home game against the Steelers last year with an interception.
"I don't know Cory's situation," Kruger said, "but it looks like an open door."
Boldin downplays award
Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin won the AFC offensive player of the week award after he caught eight passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Boldin, however, didn't seem too excited about the honor. "It doesn't matter," he said.
A reporter asked what he receives for the weekly award. "Just a mention," Boldin said with a laugh.
If the NFL did give out something, what would Boldin want? "Another day off," he said.
Lewis texts Big Ben
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis won't see Roethlisberger on the field Sunday, but the two have kept close ties throughout the year.
"He texted me [Tuesday] night," Lewis told Pittsburgh reporters on a conference call. "It's a respect we have for each other, but more importantly it's a respect you got to have for yourself."
Lewis said he was there for Roethlisberger throughout his legal ordeal.
"We texted each other whenever he was going through what he was going through, I was there for him," Lewis said. "It's more of a brotherhood. The game always takes care of itself on the field, but off the field if we don't look out for each other nobody else will."
Redding, running back Ray Rice (knee) and backup offensive lineman Tony Moll (hip) didn't practice. Gaither and Johnson (back) were limited. Center Matt Birk (back), guard Chris Chester (back) and tight end Todd Heap (shoulder) had full participation. The Ravens ruled out linebacker Tavares Gooden (shoulder) and wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (foot). … The Steelers are extremely healthy for the fourth week of the season. Only three players are reported to have injuries. Reserve quarterback Dennis Dixon (knee), guard Trai Essex (ankle) and defensive tackle Chris Hoke (knee) didn't practice. … The Ravens have lost four of the past five meetings with Pittsburgh. But the average margin of defeat has been 5.2 points. … This marks the Ravens' third road game in the first four weeks of the regular season.
Baltimiore Sun reporters Don Markus and Ken Murray contributed to this article.