Another setback for Gooden

I had planned on writing an entry last week about how linebacker Tavares Gooden was finally healthy and had started to play at a high level on the defensive side of the ball after suffering a myriad of injuries over his three-year career.

I talked with Gooden at length Wednesday, and he told me that now that his shoulder, groin and hip injuries - as well as his battle with concussions - seemed to be behind him, and he felt like he was able to truly show what he could do.

"I feel 100 percent now. It feels good not to have anything bothering me," Gooden said. "I was telling my dad, after I run, my hip, my groin isn't aching me no more. Things were fixed properly and I gave it time to heal and strengthen it. I'm not coming out of games sore any more. That's a blessing.

"Not being injured, it does play a big role and help, because you can play the game faster when you don't have those nicks and tweaks."

Unfortunately for Gooden, he might now be back on the shelf for a little while.

The inside linebacker suffered a dislocated shoulder in yesterday's win over the Browns, and reports indicate that it's the same shoulder that Gooden previously dislocated back in September when the Ravens faced the Bengals.

Gooden had to miss five games after injuring the shoulder the first time around. This time, he had the shoulder popped back in and was able to finish the game.

The Ravens will have to see how he responds this week before deciding what the next course of action is.

Regardless, the injury will slow Gooden at least a bit. This after the Miami product posted one of his best games from scrimmage in recent memory against the Saints last week, getting good pressure on quarterback Drew Brees and flying all over the field.

He's also been one of the Ravens' more consistent special teams performers, when healthy.

"He gives so much effort when he plays," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said last week. "He is a really, really (hardworking) person on the special teams. Here's a guy, 250 pounds, running as hard as he can down the field. I think he's in on almost every special teams (tackle). Now that he's more familiar with the defense, and he's a year older, I don't think it's as hard for him to process everything and then be able to use his athleticism and his ability to run. I think that's what you're seeing more than anything.

"The more mature you get, the more experience you have, some things come easier and it's not so taxing on yourself. We're really, really happy with how he's worked, and we've got a lot of season yet on our mind, so he's got to keep going."

The Ravens' coaches loves Gooden's enthusiasm and his effort. He plays the game hard, and is willing to suit up and fight through pain to try and help his team.

Therein lies the problem, however - Gooden always seems to be playing through pain. Even if he's able to bounce back from the shoulder injury and play this Sunday against the Bengals, you have to wonder if all the bumps and bruises will catch up to him and cut down on what the Ravens think could be a promising career.

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