Notebook: Gaither back at practice

OWINGS MILLS -- One month after suffering a high-ankle sprain during training camp, Baltimore Ravens starting offensive tackle Jared Gaither returned to practice Monday. The 6-foot-9, 337-pound successor to All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden hadn't practiced since spraining his right ankle July 26 in Westminster.

Gaither is scheduled to play a limited number of snaps in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

"If there are no setbacks, he should be ready for opening day," coach John Harbaugh said. "We want Jared to play a certain number of game reps and develop as an offensive lineman, but also see how the ankle holds up and make the ankle stronger."

For Gaither, 22, it's been a long recovery period since twisting his ankle days into camp. Traditionally, high-ankle sprains take a lot longer to heal than a regular sprain.

"It's been a little frustrating, but things happen," Gaither said. "It's about how you react to them. I'm looking forward to practicing and helping my team. It was more of a high-ankle sprain and more severe, but it's doing well now and I'm ready to go."

The former University of Maryland lineman said he has remained in good shape and hasn't piled on the pounds while sidelined.

Gaither took reps Monday behind Chad Slaughter, who was lined up with the first offense early in practice.

"I haven't put on any pounds, so I've been doing great with that," Gaither said. "I've been doing some cardio, too, so I'm looking forward to being out there and seeing where I am."

INJURY REPORT: Wide receiver Demetrius Williams was activated from the physically unable to perform list after passing his physical.

Dealing with a left Achilles' tendon injury, Williams participated in individual drills. He ran routes without any apparent strain and predicted he would be available for the first game of the season.

"I'm on target for the opener, it's starting to come around," said Williams, who was bothered by the same injury during minicamps. "I can run routes, but there's no contact yet."

Cornerback Chris McAlister practiced, but has a brace on his right knee.

Not practicing: nose guard Kelly Gregg (left arthroscopic knee surgery), defensive tackle Kelly Talavou (dislocated right shoulder), cornerbacks Fabian Washington (hamstring) and Derrick Martin (right shoulder), running back Willis McGahee (left arthroscopic knee surgery), linebackers Tavares Gooden (concussion) and Terrence Melton (right hand), safety Ed Reed (shoulder) and wide receiver Marcus Smith (separated right shoulder).

"I've made a lot of progress," McGahee said. "That's the goal, opening day."

McGahee is still not cleared for running or practice, though.

"When the trainer feels I can run and do all that, then I will," he said "I don't want to aggravate it. I kind of thought it would be this way.

"With a knee injury, you don't want to rush back too quick. When I had surgery, I asked the doctors if I could be ready for opening day and they said it depends on how hard you work. That's all I've been doing."

Harbaugh ruled Martin out for Thursday. Martin has aggravated sutures in his shoulder following an offseason surgery.

Smith said he's not going to play against the Falcons and estimated he will be out for a week or two.

"It was a slight separation, so it's not hurt badly," he said. "It depends on how I feel and how fast the swelling goes down."

Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who didn't play in the Ravens' 24-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams, wasn't at practice for undisclosed reasons.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens have to cut five players to get down to a mandatory limit of 75 players by today's 4 p.m. league deadline. "It's going to be hard because we have a bunch of guys that really worked hard and can play in the NFL," Harbaugh said. ... Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is gearing up for his first preseason action after spraining his right medial collateral ligament early in training camp. "I would like to=2 0see how well my knee does by playing against the Falcons," he said. "I want to see if I'm rusty or not." ... Linebacker Dan Cody played in the fourth quarter against the Rams after spraining his right foot during camp. He recorded one tackle. "I thought it went well," Cody said. "I thought I came off the ball well and I felt pretty explosive." ... Harbaugh was complimentary of the work of tight ends Daniel Wilcox, who played his first game after offseason toe surgery, and Edgar Jones, a converted linebacker who made his debut with two catches. "Edgar did some good things as a tight end, he's probably ahead of schedule," he said. "Dan Wilcox was a bright light. That injury, from what I understand is very painful. He did a great job of fighting through that and played pretty well."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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