Ravens coach Brian Billick held out some hope after a medical exam was conducted Monday that Thomas could possibly return this season and not immediately be placed on injured reserve.
"Right now, the prognosis is such that we're going to wait and see how the surgery goes to see what the time frame might be as to whether he should indeed go on injured reserve, or if there's a chance he could be back," Billick said. "I'm going to defer to the doctors and wait until after the surgery.This is a bit of a hit for us."
Thomas has four sacks and leads Baltimore in special teams tackles. At 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds, he's fast enough to act as a gunner on punts and sufficiently versatile to play linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle. Billick declined to speculate about whether he will sign additional personnel such as end Nate Bolling.
Regardless of whether Thomas plays again this season, rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs' role will increase along with veteran Cornell Brown. With 10 sacks in limited playing time, Suggs will be elevated.
"It's time for the young man to step up," Billick said of Suggs, who leads NFL rookies in sacks. 'He's playing well. Now, he's going to have an opportunity to play well more."
GOING NOWHERE FAST: The last time Baltimore played Oakland was in the AFC title game.
And the Ravens won 16-3 before taking Super Bowl XXV over the New York Giants.
These Raiders, though, are 3-10 and enter Sunday's game against Baltimore as a 5 ½ point underdog.
Owner Al Davis' 'Just win, baby' creation is foundering so much that a sports psychologist even volunteered his services to this struggling outfit.
Predictably, the offer was declined.
"I had a biorhythm guy come to me and tell me I could not play any of the three quarterbacks I had on the roster and he was absolutely serious about it," Billick said. " There are a lot of people who want to help, but until you have been in this environment, there is only one way to do it: stick together and keep fighting."
INJURY UPDATE: Billick anticipates tight end John Jones returning from a strained quadriceps that has limited him for weeks. He said return specialist Lamont Brightful, who suffered a knee contusion against Cincinnati, is likely to practice Wednesday.
QUICK HITS: Billick indicated that the team will maintain an East Coast time schedule as far as curfew and wakeup calls again during the trip to Oakland. … He didn't immediately award game balls, breaking a post-game tradition. "No game balls," Billick quipped. "They didn't play well." … The captains for the remainder of the season are linebacker Ray Lewis, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and Thomas. … With a league-high 1,622 rushing yards, Jamal Lewis is 159 ahead of Green Bay Packers runner Ahman Green.
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.