Josh Bynes spent a night in the hospital on Oct. 15 not 100 percent sure whether he'd leave with five fingers on his left hand.
A cut on the Ravens inside linebacker's index finger had become infected, a scary set of circumstances and a different experience for Bynes.
"It was tough. It was out of the blue. I just played a game, so of course I didn't think nothing of it. I just thought it was from the game," Bynes recalled on Thursday. "Then Tuesday, it swelled up really bad and the only thing I was just worried about was what was going on.
"I had to go to the ER and (the doctor) was thinking about having surgery then, and I was like, 'I ain't never had a surgery.' So it was my first time having to get one, so I was kind of scared about it. It was either that or amputation, so I wasn't going to cut my finger off. I won't cut the finger off, so I stuck with what was best for me. I tried to hold it off as much as I can so I could play Sunday, but I had no choice, so I went with it."
Bynes, 24, missed the Ravens' loss to the Steelers after starting the first six games of the year, but coming out of the bye, he was able to practice in a limited capacity Wednesday and said he expects to be ready to go Sunday at the Browns.
"I'm fine, moving it. It finally feels good to be back," Bynes said. "We had an extra week with the bye week and stuff like that, so it just feels good. The finger's feeling better. I ain't got it all the way there, but I ain't never had it all the way there, even against Green Bay, so it don't really matter.
"As long as I've got it, it's attached to my hand, I'm good to go."
That puts the Ravens in a better situation with both Bynes and fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain healthy.
Coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees must figure out how to share the playing time between them, something Pees doesn't view as a problem.
"I don't really see it as a challenge. I think it's a good situation," Pees said. "I think with Jameel back - he played 28 plays against Pittsburgh. We didn't really have a snap count on him, but we thought, 'OK, this is how many we want.' That probably figures out to about what we thought it might be, maybe a few more than what we thought.
"But with Josh back, it just gives us more flexibility, kind of like the D-line. It gives us an opportunity to roll guys. All those guys are very active on special teams and how much we're doing there can affect who we'll put in the game. ...
"If you just want to take Jameel out and sit him just to get a break and put Josh in, there's a comfort level there that doesn't bother me. The guy just played (six) games for us and did very, very well inside. To me, it's a flexibility now that we didn't have. I was scared to death in those first seven games, the first six games really, of losing a linebacker at any point in time. We could've been hurting, and we didn't, thank goodness. So now I think I feel pretty good about our situation inside there."
Bynes has 33 tackles and two passes defensed in his six starts this season. McClain made six tackles in his first game back.
Pees said McClain will be the starter next to Daryl Smith inside, but clearly he still envisions a significant role for Bynes.
Bynes sees the same positives as Pees now that the Ravens have the linebacker corps fully available and close to 100 percent.
"It's good to go in games fresh. Other guys play special teams, stuff like that," Bynes said. "It's a good thing for this organization, it's a good thing for our team because we need guys, we need bodies, especially with a lot of guys getting hurt. It's just going to be a plus for us, especially linebackers. We've been pretty thin. It helps us out in practice - guys get some breathing room, so it's been a good thing for us and it's going to continue to get better as the weeks keep going. ...
"We'll just contribute whatever they feel like we can. It definitely helps on one of the aspects as far as special teams, helping out in that aspect because I think we definitely needed better in that end. And then defensively, I think it helps us out as a unit. We'll see how that goes and whatnot. It just helps this defense out tremendously, having all of us back and adding Jameel just makes it a lot healthier inside linebacker-wise."
Update: Bynes practiced fully Thursday after being a limited participant Wednesday.
Guard Kelechi Osemele (back/knee) was the only player to miss practice today. Wideout Brandon Stokley (thigh) was a limited participant.
Tackle Michael Oher (ankle) returned to practice and fully participated. Defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee), center Ryan Jensen (foot) and running back Bernard Pierce (thigh) also fully participated.