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The Ravens are starting off the year the right way – with nearly every member of their team healthy.
Heading into their regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens’ injury report was minimal.
While some clubs have sustained drastic injuries throughout the preseason – perhaps attributed to the lockout cancelling offseason minicamps – the Ravens escaped their four warm-ups without too many dings.
“Our team came back in great shape,” said Head Coach John Harbaugh. “We were worried about the football shape part of it.
“We probably did hold guys back more when they had little issues, and maybe that’s something we can kind of learn from, but maybe we did make too much of that.”
Here is a look at who is playing and who is not heading into this game:
Birk “Feels Good”
The Ravens’ starting center did not appear on the injury report after nursing a knee injury towards the end of the preseason.
Birk, a six-time Pro Bowler, practiced fully all week and said he’s looking forward to the game.
“I feel good. Especially playing these guys, there’s always challenges, but I felt like the week went well,” said Birk, who joins an offensive line that has not yet taken a live rep together. “We got some valuable time in together, everybody, so we’ll get prepared and see how it goes.”
Birk will be key in holding massive nose tackle Casey Hampton at bay in the AFC North battle. The 14-year veteran said he expects to feel sore regardless of his knee’s status.
“I don’t like to get into percentages or anything,” said Birk. “I’ll keep treating it and feel as good as I can on Sunday and just give it everything I’ve got.
“Every game is physical. If you play offensive line, it doesn’t matter who you play. When you wake up Monday morning, you’re going to be sore as heck.”
Gurode Could Go
Even though he was only added to the roster on Monday and has a handful of practices in a Ravens uniform, 10-year veteran center Andre Gurode will suit up this weekend.
“The good thing about [veterans] who play is that they can apply it; all they really have to do is translate it,” said Head Coach John Harbaugh. “Whereas a rookie has to learn it all for the first time; learning how to talk, so to speak. He’s learning how to translate it, and the guys help him with that. He’ll be able to play for us on Sunday.”
The five-time Pro Bowler is listed behind Birk on the Ravens’ most-recent depth chart.
Evans Fully Practices
Two weeks ago, receiver Lee Evans was seen wearing a walking boot, which sent the media abuzz.
Now, he seems recovered. Evans looked fast and fluid on the practice field, as he was also not listed on the injury report.
In somewhat of a surprise, left guard Ben Grubbs was held out in Friday’s practice for a thigh injury.
Grubbs, who did not miss any time in the preseason, has a 75-percent chance of playing Sunday, as he was listed as probable.
After not practicing Thursday because of a concussion, linebacker Jason Phillips fully participated Friday.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Phillips got knocked in the nose.
“He was good today. He banged his nose; you know he’s got such a great looking nose anyway,” Harbaugh joked after Friday’s session. “So, he took another shot to the nose, but he’s ok.”
Phillips is eager to get back on the field Sunday.
“One of the new things going around right now is making sure any type of concussion or something, they want to look at it,” he said. “They checked me out, and I feel great.
For the Steelers
Pittsburgh officially ruled out backup linebacker Chris Carter for Sunday’s contest due to a hamstring injury, while receiver Jerricho Cotchery’s hamstring designated him as doubtful.
Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (concussion) is listed as probable.