Birk still aiming for opener, cool with Gurode signing

As reporters approached a shirtless Matt Birk in the Ravens' locker room following yesterday's practice, the 6-foot-4, 310-lb. center turned, and with his trademark dry sense of humor, delivered a gem.

"Let me start with a question," Birk said. "Have you ever seen a guy as sexy as me?"

No comment, Matt.

As you might be able to tell from that small portion of Birk's session with the media, the 35-year-old was in a pretty good mood after the latest test on his surgically repaired left knee during yesterday's practice.

Having now practiced a full week since returning from a near month-long layoff, Birk said his knee feels good, and he still is going to try and play Sunday when the Ravens open the season against the Steelers.

"I hope to," Birk said. "I'll just do everything I can to get ready. If I can, I can, and if I can't, I can't."

At this point, Birk says he's able to take part in close to a full practice, and is incrementally increasing his activity every time he steps on the practice field.

The big question is how close to 100 percent the Ravens' starting center will be by the time Sunday's game with rival Pittsburgh rolls around.

"I think having dealt with it last year and going through it again this year, maybe we're getting a little smarter with how we're going about things and how we treat it," Birk said. "But it's kind of a funny thing; sometimes it responds well, sometimes it doesn't.

"So I'll just do everything I can to get it to feel good and get it to feel right."

With there being some uncertainty surrounding Birk's knee, the Ravens went out and signed former Cowboys center Andre Gurode two days ago to provide depth at the position.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Gurode brings plenty of experience with him to Baltimore, but he also brings doubts about how the Ravens will handle their two veteran centers. Will Birk remain the starter? Will Gurode get the call in Week 1 with Birk ailing, despite the fact Gurode will have gone through less than a week of practice by the time Pittsburgh comes to town?

Ever the team player, Birk says he isn't worrying about how Gurode's addition will impact his own playing time. In fact, Birk says he endorses the Ravens' decision to sign a guy of Gurode's ability.

"I thought it was great," Birk said. "He's a great player. I've admired him from afar for a long time. I can't believe a player like that was out there. I think you add a guy like that to your line, I think it makes your line better, makes your team better. I think it's great."

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