Sanders hoping to return against Pittsburgh

OWINGS MILLS - Frank Sanders has become way too accustomed to talking about injuries over the last month to suit his taste. However, the Baltimore Ravens' starting receiver had something to report Tuesday beyond the usual dialogue ahout continued progress since dislocating two toes in his right foot.

Sanders practiced and anticipates returning against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season-opener on Sunday. The nine-year veteran has been out since getting hurt on his first reception as a Raven against the Bills to open the preseason. "I expect to be playing on Sunday," said Sanders, a former Arizona Cardinals' Pro Bowl alternate who ended last year on injured reserve with a sprained right arch. "I have no problem running on my toes, bouncing up and down, cutting left and right. "I'm still having a little trouble rolling to my right. Frank Sanders is feeling pretty good. I enjoyed myself out there." 

Sanders had averaged 62 receptions through his first eight seasons and only missed five games. However, last year he dropped to a career-low 34 receptions for 400 yards while playing just a dozen games. If Sanders returns and isn't too rusty, the Ravens' receiving corps would be bolstered considerably since Baltimore only has four wideouts on the active roster. "I'm working my way into the rotation," Sanders said. "I'm getting the feel of being back in the huddle again."

 MEDICAL UPDATE: Cornerback Tom Knight, out last year with a severe hamstring injury, is working his way back after missing the majority of training camp when he strained the other hamstring. Knight is a top nickel back candidate, but the former Cardinals' first-round draft pick has to prove he's healthy enough for the coaching staff to be able to count on him. "I'll keep my fingers crossed," said Knight, also sporting a splint for an injured thumb. "I feel stronger after testing it. Playing Sunday isn't a decision for me to make. They'll monitor my progress. All I can do is show them I'm ready." 

Rookie running back Musa Smith said his rehabilitation from arthroscopic knee surgery will last a few more weeks. He has been doing cardiovascular work and other exercises to strengthen the knee, but isn't jogging yet. Cornerback Alvin Porter (groin) remains out. Tight end John Jones (neck) and center Casey Rabach (sprained knee, ankle) are recovering from minor injuries. Fullback Harold Morrow (forearm contusion) said he won't be listed on the injury report. 

HAPPY TO BE BACK: When receiver Todd Devoe didn't make the final roster cut on Sunday, he was disappointed. The rookie was relieved, though, to be invited to join the practice squad along with receiver Marc Lester, defensive end Nate Bolling, offensive tackle Lawrence Smith and long snapper Mike Solwold. "Right now, the thing to do is take it to another level to give Ray Lewis and the guys the best look possible," Devoe said. "I'm hoping to improve my game every week." 

QUOTABLE: "You only have 16 games. One loss in the National Football League is the same as an eight-game losing streak in basketball. It's the same as a 16-game losing streak in baseball. "Can you imagine that? Sixteen games in a row would not be fun. That's what one loss in the NFL is like. That's why it's such a passionate atmosphere." Ravens coach Brian Billick reflecting on the importance of each game, although the equivalent of losing one NFL game in relation to baseball would actually be 10 games. Billick wasn't referring to the Orioles' eight-game losing streak through Tuesday night's game against Oakland.

Aaron Wilson writes for The Carroll County Times

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