Ravens notebook: Gaither aggravated back

OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither aggravated his upper back injury and will get another second medical opinion from a California specialist. Gaither was carted off the field with a thoracic disc injury the first week of August, an injury that has triggered back spasms

Gaither returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, but was unable to practice the past two days after saying his lower back was bothering him. He was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We just don't know, that's a mystery right now," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Jared is as frustrated as anybody. We'll know more on Monday when he gets a re-evaluation. We'll see how that goes." Gaither was supposedly feeling better, but had trouble even making it through a light practice. "He said he was feeling better and he'd be able to go next week, he thought, so he went out there and went through a very light practice," Harbaugh said. "The next day, came in and his back was sore. So, we're sending him for a re-evaluation." "Our doctors have looked at it, and they don't see it in there right now. So we've got to find out from the best experts what exactly is causing that problem."

Is injured reserve a possibility? Gaither was expected back two weeks ago, according to his own second-opinion doctor.

"Obviously, the clock is ticking on something like that," Harbaugh said. RAY RICE UPDATE: Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice is expected to play Sunday despite a bruised right knee.

The Pro Bowl runner has practiced for the past few days on a limited basis and is listed as questionable.

" I'm feeling pretty good that he's going to go," Harbaugh said. "I would say it's a game-day decision, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. So, we'll see."

Rice has been able to practice without suffering any setbacks and doesn't appear to be limping. "Yeah, I'd say it's a positive sign," Harbaugh said. "He practiced. He looked good. I'm sure the Steelers are preparing for him, and there's a good chance he'll play. We'll just have to see how it feels on Sunday." Rice has expressed confidence that he'll be able to play.

"I feel great," Rice said Thursday. "We have a great corps of backs, but I'm sure I'll be ready to play."

REDDING NOT CLEARED: Starting defensive end Cory Redding hasn't been medically cleared to play following a concussion as he's still dealing with symptoms.

Redding has to pass a baseline test before he'll be allowed to play. He's listed as questionable. "They have yet to clear me," Redding said today. "We're still talking, still discussing. We're taking it day by day, how my symptoms are reacting. We're letting the brain rest and it'll be a game-day decision."

Redding said he's dealing with the usual concussions symptoms, which typically involve headaches, dizziness and sensitivity to light. "I took everything, I did everything the doctors wanted me to do," Redding said. "It showed I did some good things and did some things that are still off. It showed what the tests should show. I'm at the pace of the doctors and at the pace of my brain.

"I need to let my brain take its course. If it's right, I'll be on the field come Sunday. If it's not, I've got to be smart."

He was listed as practicing on a limited basis, but Redding said he only watched practice. "I take it seriously," Redding said. "It's something you don't play around with, with all the recent studies that have gone on. You have to be smart and take this thing seriously.

"I've only had one concussion before last year. This is the second one of my whole career. With research or no research, you're talking about your brain. This is serious. I just have to be smart. Like I said, I'm at the mercy of my doctors and the mercy of my brain." OHER, ZBIKOWSKI FINED: Offensive tackle Michael Oher and safety Tom Zbikowski were fined $5,000 apiece by the league office. Oher was punished for his punch to the head on Cleveland Browns defensive end Robaire Smith. Smith shoved Ravens tight end Todd Heap after the play was blown dead following a false start, and Oher intervened.

"That's my teammate," Oher said. You got to have your teammate's back." Oher indicated that he had no plans to appeal. "I don't want to talk about the fine," Oher said. Zbikowski tackled Browns running back Peyton Hillis well out of bounds. He was flagged for unnecessary roughness.

KRUGER TO PLAY: Defensive end Paul Kruger indicated that he's been informed that he's going to play against the Steelers in what will mark his first playing time this season.

"I know I'm going to play," said Kruger, who intercepted a pass against the Steelers to help set up an overtime win last November. "I'll be playing defensive end. I'm excited about it." Kruger has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, a sprain suffered in the preseason finale. With Trevor Pryce no longer on the team and Redding sidelined, Kruger has taken snaps with the first-team defense this week.

"He's a very important part of our defense," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. Drafted in the second round out of Utah, Kruger has bulked up 25 pounds since last season to make the transition from outside linebacker to defensive end.

"I'm taking care of business," Kruger said. "I'm out there and I'm going to let everything else fall into place. I want to be a reliable guy out on the field.

CODY UNSURE IF HE'LL PLAY: Rookie nose guard Terrence Cody is expected to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the second-round draft pick from Alabama made no commitments toward being definitely in the game plan.

"You'll see me when you see me," Cody said. Cody is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his torn lateral meniscus, but says he's medically cleared.

Cody lined up on the kickoff return team this week in practice.

"Yeah, I'm ready to play," he said. "I feel like I can help the team out make some plays and help our team win the game." INJURY REPORT: Besides listing Rice and Redding as questionable, offensive tackle Tony Moll (hip) and outside linebacker Edgar Jones (thigh) share that designation.

Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder) and wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (broken foot) have already been ruled out. The following players are listed as probable: center Matt Birk (back), cornerback Chris Carr (thigh), offensive guard Chris Chester (back), tight end Todd Heap (shoulder) and linebacker Jarret Johnson (back).

The Steelers ruled out starting offensive guard Trai Essex (ankle) as well as quarterback Dennis Dixon (torn lateral meniscus) and defensive tackle Chris Hoke (knee).

NO HARD FEELINGS: If Harbaugh is harboring any hard feelings toward veteran defensive end Trevor Pryce after he signed with the New York Jets and rebuffed the Ravens' offer to rejoin them next week, he didn't show it Friday. "Like all the guys that leave, we wish him nothing but the best, except when they play us," Harbaugh said.

Pryce signed a one-year contract with the Jets. He's also due the remainder of his $2 million salary from the Ravens. Harbaugh characterized what Pryce did as a "business decision."

"You respect the player's right and ability to do what is best for his own career," Harbaugh said. "Trevor made a decision that was best financially and for his career. We're OK with that." Pryce, 35, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection. However, he has recorded one tackle in three games this season. He was cut so the Ravens could re-sign safety Ken Hamlin. Plus, the Ravens would like to work in younger defensive linemen like Terrence Cody and Paul Kruger.

"We've got some good young players, guys that need an opportunity to play," Harbaugh said. FRUSTRATED: Now that Gooden has gotten a second opinion on his dislocated left shoulder from Dr. John Uribe, he's still waiting to learn when he can get back on the field.

Gooden was projected to miss four to six weeks initially after undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging exam. He got injured in the second game of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals. Harbaugh said that he expects Gooden to be out for at least a few weeks, four at the most. "What coach Harbs released to the media, it's the same thing basically that Dr. Uribe said," Gooden said. "So right now, it's just strengthening and getting back. Just getting stronger each week. "General soreness. It feels good, it's been a week out, but now it's just working hard and trying to get back and doing everything the trainers are telling me to do. I've just been working hard. Been working out with the training staff, just trying to come back as soon as I can." Gooden got injured covering a punt. He's unsure when he'll be back.

"I just want to be back as soon as I can, because I miss the game," Gooden said. "Just going to meetings every day and being myself, it's not the same because I'm not able to go out there and do the same things I do. But I'm just praying and hoping that everything heals up as quick as it can so I can get back out there. There is no time limit as of now, but that's what we're doing, working to get me back on the field."

Gooden was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, an especially tough game to miss since it's a rivalry. "I was having a decent season this year, and it's tough when everything's starting to fall into place, then an injury like this happens," Gooden said. "I was looking forward to having a hell of a season this season, but like I said, now it's just up to me to work hard and pray and let the trainers get me back on the field as fast as they can."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens worked out lefty punter Glenn Pakulak on Thursday. Pakulak is often called on by NFL teams to prepare for a left-footed punter. He has previously come in to work out for the Ravens to help them prepare for Steelers left-footed punter Daniel Sepulveda, and did so again this week.

This helps punt returners like Tom Zbikowski to get ready for Sunday. … There's a 30-percent chance of rain and temperatures forecast for the 50s for Sunday. "We're a team that's built for all conditions, and we pride ourselves in that," Harbaugh said. "If it's raining, we'll be looking forward to that, too." ... Harbaugh downplayed wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh's comments about his lack of playing time.

"He's a competitive guy," he said. "He just loves to play, and those are the kind of guys you want on your team. We don't worry about that stuff. I mean, that stuff is just talk and chatter and guys wanting to be a part of things. When they step between the lines, we watch that. And it's how hard guys play and how committed they are to doing all of the little things, and I think all of the receivers are doing that."

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