Another week has passed, and offensive tackle Jared Gaither is still not healthy enough to begin practicing.
Gaither, who started at left tackle for the Ravens last year and was expected to be the team's starting right tackle this season, has only taken part in one practice since Aug. 5 because of a thoracic disc injury that continues to cause him pain in the middle of his back.
At some point soon, the Ravens are going to have to make a decision on whether to put Gaither on Injured Reserve, but head coach John Harbaugh said today that the team is still holding out hope that Gaither will be able to come back healthy and re-join the team soon.
"We're just keeping our fingers crossed right now," Harbaugh said. "We'll see, but there's a chance he could get back sometime in the next few weeks. If it's longer than that, then we'll have to make a decision."
Gaither's injury puts the Ravens in a bind, because they obviously want their right tackle back, but they can't continue to hold a spot for the four-year veteran on the 53-man roster if he isn't contributing at all.
With safety Ed Reed, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and running back Matt Lawrence eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list next week, it will make it even tougher to have an injured player occupying a roster spot.
"The season's only 16 weeks, so obviously at some point in time, we have to make a decision," Harbaugh said. "The fact that we've got some guys that will be coming back from PUP, that factors into the mix, but with Jared, Jared's a really good player. He's a quality offensive tackle. He can make our team better. And we're trying really hard to get him back in the mix, and he's really working hard to get back in the mix."
Harbaugh said he met with Gaither at length last Friday, and the two discussed Gaither's health and where he is at this point. Harbaugh came out of that meeting convinced that the offensive tackle is doing everything he can to return to the field.
"I've said it before, but it was even more evident to me that no one is more determined to get back and more frustrated with what's going on than Jared," Harbaugh said. "I'm confident that he's working hard to get back, and I'm confident that the doctors are trying to determine what the best way to get him back is."