Ravens' Smith out of hospital

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Troy Smith is no longer hospitalized with a tonsil infection that has plagued him for the past few weeks, but has lost roughly 20 pounds and isn't healthy enough to resume practicing yet.

The former Heisman Trophy winner missed the final two preseason games, including a scheduled start against the St. Louis Rams, with symptoms of fever, nausea, dehydration and general soreness.

Smith appeared haggard Monday and noticeably thinner, especially in his face. A once-tight fitting exercise shirt hung loosely off his upper body.

Smith remains on antibiotics, and the Ravens ruled him out of practice for an undetermined period of time.

"He looked a little thinner, but he's got a smile on his face," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's hugging everybody. We have an issue with that [laughter].

"Everybody's like, 'Whoa, not so close,' but he's happy to be back. He's going to be out until he gets his strength back and that infection clears up."

For Smith, the timing of his illness derailed his bid for a starting job that went to rookie Joe Flacco.

It's a frustrating experience as Smith was on the cusp of seizing the position when he got sick.

"I'm feeling a little better, but the process hasn't been easy because you work so hard to achieve certain things and then something comes that you don't have any control over," Smith said. "You've just got to battle through it. Kind of a sudden thing."

Initially, Smith was under the impression that he just had a severe cold. It turned out to be much more serious, though.

"The doctors started off thinking that it was just the flu and having a fever, but it turned into way more than what even the doctors thought," Smith said. "The doctors did an incredible job with getting me back on my feet now.

"Physically, I'm all right. There are still a couple of spells and a couple bouts where I've got to get through it with my breathing and things like that."

Smith said there are no current plans to perform a tonsillectomy.

Even though his chance to start didn't materialize, Smith said he's comforted by the camaraderie of his teammates.

"I'm not thinking about starting at all," Smith said. "My health comes first in any situation, and then my team. Just being back around the guys, laughing and joking and being a part of something special here, is what's most important."

INJURY REPORT: Running back Willis McGahee and cornerback Chris McAlister practiced Monday, but it's unlikely either player will be 100 percent for the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

McGahee missed the entire preseason after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee during training camp. He left the training complex with a big bag of ice on his knee.

"I wouldn't say he's 100 percent just from watching him run around, but he's out there," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see how he progresses this week. He wants to be out there, I know that."

Meanwhile, McAlister has been held out of preseason action with a swollen right knee.

"All you can go by is what you see," Harbaugh said. "In practice, he did a nice job."

Harbaugh was noncommittal on Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who revealed Friday that he's suffering from a nerve impingement of his neck and left shoulder. There is no specific timetable for his return as he hasn't been cleared for contact yet.

"I think it's day-by-day with Ed, realistically," Harbaugh said. "It's just one of those deals where, and he said it, it's day-by-day. He's going to need to practice at some point in time to be ready to play.

"When he can practice, we'll prepare him properly and he'll be ready to play. I know he's working hard to get to that point."

Nose guard Kelly Gregg, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month, remains optimistic of playing against Cincinnati.

BACKUP QB SHUFFLE: The Ravens worked out three prospective backup quarterback candidates Monday: Joey Harrington, Chris Simms and Todd Bouman.

Although ESPN reported that Harrington has agreed to terms, that report wasn't confirmed by team officials. A few players were of the opinion that Harrington was officially on the team, but his status remained unclear Monday night.

It's believed that Simms didn't sign with Baltimore as he was looking for more money than the veteran minimum and may opt to explore other options.

"We need a backup quarterback for the game, so we're looking at other guys," Harbaugh said.

ROSTER MOVES: The Ravens negotiated an injury settlement with cornerback David Pittman, a disappointing former third-round draft pick no longer a part of the team after this financial maneuver.

Meanwhile, the Ravens completed their eight-man practice squad by signing former Washington Redskins running back Marcus Mason (Youngstown State), former New York Jets defensive end Bryan Mattison (Iowa), wide receiver Matt Willis (UCLA), whom Baltimore cut Saturday, and former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Nate Lawrie (Yale).

Mattison is the son of Ravens linebackers coach Greg Mattison.

A former Georgetown Prep star who's the all-time Maryland high school rushing leader with 5,700 yards, Mason led all NFL rushers in the preseason with 317 yards.

"I'm very happy to be here," Mason said. "I just want to get to work and show what I can do."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens have conducted preliminary discussions with free agent offensive tackle Willie Anderson, who was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend. The San Diego Chargers and the Chicago Bears are other possible destinations for the former Pro Bowl lineman. Anderson was released after refusing to take a paycut ... Harbaugh said the Ravens worked out three wide receivers, but didn't disclose names.

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

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