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According to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, starting left tackle Jared Gaither has a “real good chance” to play this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings.
Gaither was sidelined all last week with a neck injury that he suffered on Oct. 4 against the New England Patriots.
The 6-foot-9, 340-pound lineman ran into quarterback Joe Flacco’s back with the crown of his helmet and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Afterwards, Gaither was seen in the Ravens’ locker room at team headquarters wearing a padded neck brace.
Harbaugh left the door open to Gaither returning to action on Sunday.
“We’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a lot better now than he was going into the game on Sunday. He’s been getting rehab pretty much 24-7, so we’ll be pushing hard to get him out there.”
With Gaither out, rookie Michael Oher, who had previously been the first-team right tackle, shifted to the left side, while Marshal Yanda moved up to right tackle.
Yanda started 12 games there in 2007, but only played in five games at right guard last year before sustaining a season-ending knee injury.
Previous to Gaither’s injury, the Ravens reserved a portion of nearly every practice to remain fresh with that lineup.
“I think we have good depth in our offensive line, and Marshal’s obviously been a starter here for most of his career,” Harbaugh noted. “We look at our offensive line right now like we have six starters. That proved out. Marshal played even better than he did the week before.”
Even though Oher was protecting Flacco’s blind side and facing NFL sack leader Antwan Odom against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, he did not give up a sack. Inside linebacker Dhani Jones earned one, and defensive end Robert Geathers got credit for another after Odom pushed Oher into the back of Flacco. Cincinnati also notched two quarterback hits.
What’s more, the Ravens did not have to regularly use a tight end to help support the new tackle tandem. In fact, Todd Heap was second on the team with seven receptions (41 yards).
But, Harbaugh said there are still many things upon which the 23rd-overall selection must improve.
“I thought Michael Oher played well,” Harbaugh said. “[There are] a couple of plays he’d like to have back and play better. He’d be the first to tell you that. [There were] plenty of plays he played well.”
The injury to come out of the Bengals game was a hamstring to tight end Edgar Jones.
I’m not thinking it’s going to be anything to worry about. I chatted with E.J. on Monday, and he was walking around fine. Plus, the Ravens just released Tony Curtis to sign receiver David Tyree, so it’s not like there is any concern with the tight end position.