Matt Birk expects to be ready for opener against Steelers

Today was Ravens center Matt Birk's first full practice since having surgery on his left knee at the beginning of August, so it's too early to tell how he'll recover from the procedure and whether he'll be ready to play against the Steelers on Sept. 11.

With that said, Birk said after practice that he expects to be out there against Pittsburgh in the regular season opener, lining up with the starting offense.

"I think so," Birk said today. "I mean, you never know. Hopefully I don't have any setbacks or anything like that, but I think if everything progresses like we hope, yeah (I'll play)."

Birk had the surgery to repair the bursa sac in his knee, an area which caused him issues all of last season. The 35-year-old center needed to have his knee drained on a weekly basis during the 2010 campaign, a process which Birk and the Ravens hope can be avoided this year.

Asked if it's too early to tell if the procedure was successful, the quick-witted Birk cracked a smile.

"I'm not really in touch with my body," he joked. "I don't know. Like I said, it feels good now. I mean, who knows what's going to happen. It's a long season. A lot of things happen to your body, but hopefully the worst is behind me."

Because he only has taken part in two practices since the surgery, Birk doesn't sound like he's planning on playing in Thursday's regular season finale against the Falcons. Of course, if he feels up for it, the team might opt to put their veteran center in for a short time against Atlanta, just to get him some game reps.

"Today's really the first day I did any kind of (team drills), going against any D-linemen, so I guess we'll see how it feels tonight and tomorrow and maybe base it from there," Birk said. "It'd be great, but at the same time, the goal is Sept. 11."

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