Jimmy Smith hopes to play Monday vs. Jaguars

Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith was a full participant in yesterday's practice, and appears to be getting close to full strength after sitting out the last five-plus weeks with a high left ankle sprain.

The question now is if the Ravens' first-round pick will play Monday night against the Jaguars.

Smith said today that he's made progress in his rehab, but he's unsure of his status for Monday's game.

"I feel good," Smith said. "I mean, I don't know if I'll be able to play this game, but I feel good. ... I'm optimistic. I don't really know what the coaches are going to do."

Head coach John Harbaugh said that it was "very encouraging" that Smith and fellow corner Chris Carr were able to return to practice this week after battling respective injuries. Carr has been held out of the last two games because of a hamstring injury.

"I was a little pleasantly surprised by Chris' progress," Harbaugh said. "They both practiced most of the week. Jimmy got progressively better as the week went on. We'll just have to see Monday night. Hopefully, we can get those guys out there.

"There will have to be some roster choices. We're a little bit more healthy now, so we'll have to decide what combination of guys give us the best chance."

Might the Ravens err on the side of caution with Smith and give him extra time to recover since the defense has played well in his absence?

"Yeah, that's probably part of it," Harbaugh said. "The other side of the coin is you want to get a young guy out there playing. And he needs to play, too. He hasn't played much. He played very little in the preseason. I think that's going to be tough for him."

Smith said the ankle has improved overall, and it felt great to be back practicing with the team again this week. He also discussed the five weeks off, which have consisted of a lot of rehab and time away from practice.

"It's something I've had to adapt to," Smith said. "I've never been in a situation like that. I didn't know what to expect or how you come back from something like that. The team is real supportive, everybody's just been supportive and encouraging me. They've been keeping my spirits lifted."

Smith would love to make his return on Monday night with the Ravens playing in primetime, but he knows that he and the team need to think of the big picture, as well.

"It would mean a lot to me, it would mean a lot to the fans, it would mean a lot to the team," Smith said. "But you've got to do what's best for the team. If I'm not ready to go, then they're not going to put me out there."

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