I've thought all along that the Ravens' schedule could not have worked out better for safety Ed Reed and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Both players sat out the first six games of the regular season while on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and after returning to practice this week for the first time since last season (last October for Ayanbadejo, who suffered a season-ending quad injury Week 4 last year), they're ready to suit up on Sunday and test out their respective injuries.
Why is having Reed and Ayanbadejo play this weekend the perfect scenario for the Ravens? I'll tell you.
Baltimore's opponent on Sunday is an 0-5 team who doesn't present much of a threat of an upset. As a result, the Ravens can put Reed and Ayanbadejo out there for as much or as little as they'd like.
If they want to get Reed a full game's worth of reps, they can leave him out there for all 60 minutes and let the veteran safety work out the physical and mental kinks against a passing attack which ranks second-to-last in the NFL.
If the Ravens just want to get Reed in for a few series to test out his injured hip, they can do that as well, and then give the reigns to either Ken Hamlin or Haruki Nakamura.
Same deal with Ayanbadejo. They can rotate him in on special teams, and if defensive coordinator Greg Mattison would like, he can slide Ayanbadejo in at inside linebacker late in the game when the outcome has likely already been decided.
Here's the kicker, though: Once Sunday's game is over, Reed and Ayanbadejo will have two full weeks to recover from their inevitable soreness and get back into football shape.
With the Ravens having their bye week next week, both these guys will have time to time to toss on the ice packs, get some treatment, and then be ready for the Miami Dolphins in Week 9.
Sunday's game will serve as the warm-up for Reed and Ayanbadejo. Next week will serve as the recovery time. Then, two weeks from now, hopefully both Pro Bowlers will be fit, healthy, and ready to go for the rest of the season.