The Ravens are targeting the Dec. 18 game against the San Diego Chargers for the return of Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, according to a team source.
Lewis could play this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, but the team prefers to hold him out another week, according to the source. In fact, Lewis could have played Sunday if needed against the Cleveland Browns, but both team officials and Lewis thought it would be better for him to miss another game.
Lewis has missed the past three games with turf toe. According to a team source, Lewis participated in drills during pre-game warm-ups Sunday and had no problems. An insert has been placed in his shoe similar to the one made for left guard Ben Grubbs, who suffered a similar injury in the opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Grubbs missed six games and also had a bye week to heal.
"He's doing quite well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Lewis at his Monday news conference. "He was bouncing around the field yesterday before the game. Did you notice? You saw what I saw. We're hopeful. I would love to give you a definitive answer and I understand what you're saying [with] all the arguments. We're going to try to win the game against the Colts. That's going to be our challenge and we want to go in there full strength. Obviously, a healthy Ray Lewis playing at the caliber he's capable of playing at helps us beat the Colts. Is he going to be ready to do that? We don't know. He says he's going to be ready to do that. He's got some orthodics that may give him a chance to do that. We'll just have to see how that goes this week. We've been trying the last couple of weeks. We have probably been somewhat cautious. We want to make sure he doesn't re-injure it. We'll just have to see how that goes this week."
The Ravens have played surprisingly well without Lewis, who leads the team in tackles with 68. Both Dannell Ellerbe and Brendon Ayanbadejo have replaced Lewis, and Ellerbe had the best game of his three-year pro career Sunday with seven tackles.
— Baltimore Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this report.