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Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that starting left tackle Jared Gaither’s status for this Sunday – or even for the next few weeks – is still uncertain as the team waits on results from a magnetic resonance imaging exam.
The crown of Gaither’s helmet slammed into quarterback Joe Flacco’s back as the massive left tackle tried to fend off a pass rush from New England Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green.
Gaither, who was able to move all of his extremities, was attended to by medical staff for about 10 minutes before he was immobilized and wheeled off on a stretcher.
Gaither was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for X-rays, which proved to be negative, and an MRI, but the 6-foot-9, 340-pounder was too big for their machine, so he had to travel with the team back to Baltimore.
Gaither had the MRI on Monday and was at Ravens headquarters to attend meetings.
“We’re real hopeful it’s not extended,” Harbaugh said in his weekly press conference. “It could be he could play this week. Because it’s not a serious injury, as far as we know right now. It could be a couple of weeks, it could be longer. It’s wait and see. We’re real hopeful that he plays this week.”
Without Gaither, the Ravens moved rookie Michael Oher to protect Flacco’s blind side and Marshal Yanda came in at right tackle. Yanda started 12 games at the position in 2007.
Seeing Gaither virtually motionless on the field for several minutes gave pause to his teammates, but the Ravens knew they had to quickly move on.
“Unfortunately, it’s a part of the game,” center Matt Birk said. “If you play this game a while, I don’t mean a while in the NFL, but you play a while growing up – high school, college… I don’t want to sound cold, obviously we’re concerned for Jared but the game doesn’t stop. You have to, especially at this level, maintain your focus. Once we heard that he was ok, like I said, you’ve got to get your focus right back on [the game]. That’s just how it is.”
Meanwhile, the Ravens are expected to place linebacker and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo on Injured Reserve with what he called a torn quadriceps muscle in his left leg.
Ayanbadejo injured his leg in the fourth quarter as he tackled running back Sammy Morris at the end of a 14-yard pass reception. On the stop, Ayanbadejo got caught in a scrum with a group of pursuing defenders and needed medical attention when the pile separated.
“I was just trying to drive him back and finish the tackle,” he said. “That’s all I could do. I don’t know what happened.”
In a post game interview, Ayanbadejo said he tore his quadriceps and will need surgery.
“I’ll get surgery on it and go from there,” stated Ayanbadejo, who has been to three Pro Bowls as a special teamer. “I’ve never been injured before so it’s pretty tough. At the same time it’s football and things happen.”
Ayanbadejo was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 3 after he recorded an interception and sack against the Cleveland Browns. He was also second on the Ravens in tackles with 17 heading into the game.
“It’s a big loss. It’s something we’re going to have to fill, obviously, someone else is going to have to step up,” said Harbaugh. “The fact that he’s made himself into such [a valuable player]… Being a Pro Bowl special teams player is pretty impressive. And being a multiple Pro Bowl special teams player [is really impressive], right? Now he’s that and he’s a starter in a basic sub package which is on the field for 20 to 30 plays a game.
“So, that’s a big loss for us. I’m very impressed with what he did. How he’s blossomed as a football player has just been neat to see. It’s disappointing to lose him but he’ll be back next year ready to go.”
To fill his roster spot, there were reports that the Ravens were looking to sign linebacker Prescott Burgess, a former Baltimore draft pick in 2007 who was recently on the Patriots’ practice squad.
Harbaugh said that no new players have signed with the team as of Monday.