Notebook: Washington returns to practice

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens starting cornerback Fabian Washington returned to practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a concussion against the San Diego Chargers. One day after being held out of Wednesday's workout, Washington expressed confidence that he'll start Sunday against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium.

"Coming along, man," Washington said "I had a little headache, but that's gone away."

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison predicted that Washington will start.

"I do believe Fabian will be up, yeah," Mattison said. "Oh, definitely."

Washington said he has also been dealing with flu symptoms.

"That's the big thing that's kicking my butt," Washington said. "A little bug's going around."

If Washington is sidelined or limited, the Ravens are comfortable with Frank Walker's ability to contribute.

Walker had a key pass deflection late in the Ravens' 31-26 win over the Chargers.

"Frank's always ready," Mattison said. "Frank has played a lot of football here in some crucial situations. Now, Frank is always there."

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson didn't practice for the second day in a row due to a shoulder injury, but shed little light on the situation.

Johnson attended practice, but was limited to individual drills.

Asked if the injury would affect his status for Sunday, Johnson replied: "I don't think so. It's nothing to worry about."

And Mattison predicted that Johnson will play.

"Yes, I don't want to look forward to having to walk on that field without Jarret Johnson," Mattison said. "So, I'm saying that he's there."

Offensive tackle Jared Gaither (illness) didn't practice, but is expected to play Sunday.

With Gaither not practicing, rookie Michael Oher shifted over to left tackle with Marshal Yanda filling in at right tackle.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron forecasted that Gaither will be in the lineup.

"He'll be ready to play," Cameron said. "I wouldn't think anything else. This illness is going around. Every team's dealing with it.

"He'll handle it fine. Even though he's come up with this flu bug or whatever it is, he'll pass it and be ready to play."

Defensive tackle Justin Bannan (knee) was limited.

Safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion) participated fully as well as tight end L.J. Smith (pulled left hamstring).

The Browns made no changes to their injury report with running back Jamal Lewis (hamstring) and offensive linemen Rex Hadnot (knee) and Floyd Womack (ankle) not practicing again.

Nose guard Shaun Rogers (foot) and linebacker David Bowens (knee) were limited.

IN SHAPE?: Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs took exception to a report that he's not in shape after he was limited to one tackle during the second half of the Ravens' game in San Diego.

Suggs said that he was affected by a pad protecting his injured ribs.

"I did have a pad on my ribs and it made it very difficult to breathe," Suggs said. "I had a pad probably the size of you, and it didn't help any .

"It was extra high and I could lift my jersey and I couldn't breathe. I don't think my conditioning is a problem."

LEARNING ON THE JOB: Tavares Gooden is the Ravens' starting inside linebacker, but isn't exactly thriving yet.

He has recorded just five tackles through two games as backup linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has registered 11 tackles.

Gooden is still rounding into form after missing the majority of last season on injured reserve while undergoing sports hernia and hip flexor surgeries.

"I think he has improved every game," Mattison said. "I think what he missed last year not being on the field, you can't just get off of film.

"The mistakes that he has made early, he isn't making a second time. His ability to get to the ball, the second time compared to the first time, is better. I think he's just stepping it up every game."

MILESTONE: Two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Derrick Mason is three receptions away from catching his 800th career pass.

"As coaches, very seldom do you get an opportunity to be around guys like that," Cameron said. "As players, some of these players will never be in the locker room with a guy that has caught 800 or more receptions. In my view, Derrick Mason, the number of catches is the least important thing he probably does.

"It's the clutch catches that he makes, the leadership that he brings, the way he practices, and the habits that he has. He has developed probably as good of habits as any player that I9 9ve been around. When you do that, and all of a sudden look up, there's 800 catches."

HONORED: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed and retired offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden were named to the Sporting News' team of the decade in the 2000s with former Baltimore fullback Lorenzo Neal also making the team.

TICKETS AVAILABLE: The Browns returned approximately 300 tickets to the Ravens for Sunday's game. They can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 410-547-SEAT.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens lead the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 41 yards per contest and a 2.2 rushing average. ... The Browns rank 28th in rushing, averaging just 71 yards a game with a 3.5 average per carry. "Having a running game makes your job as a quarterback a lot easier, " Browns quarterback Brady Quinn said. "Going against the No. 1 rush defense doesn't help that." ... Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said that rookie outside linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger is improving on special teams. Kruger has been deactivated for the first two ga mes with Antwan Barnes playing instead. "He had a good practice," Rosburg said. "I thought last week was the best week that he had, yes." Kruger didn't play on special teams at Utah. "That's not untrue for players even at linebacker and defensive back," Rosburg said. "A lot of these guys were the stars and they didn't have to play special teams, especially guys that started as freshmen and sophomores in college. It's just a part of a development of a young player. I don't think Paul is any different than a lot of the other players his age." ... The Ravens have been working to get newly-signed tight end Tony Curtis up to speed on offense and on special teams. "We introduced him to his teammates, and we put him in some spots.," Rosburg sad. "We got him as many reps as we possibly could. He's played special teams before in this league, so that's a valuable asset for him. We're going to work him in." ... It doesn't sound like fourth wide receiver Demetrius Williams is in line for increased playing time in the immediate future. "The bottom line is it's a long season and we're going to need every guy," Cameron said "We expect every guy to be ready. Demetrius has had a great week of practice. Time will tell. You never know how these games are going to play out." Added Williams: "My role is whatever they tell me to do. They have a plan for everything. You've got to trust their plan and go with it. As soon as they call on me to pl ay, I'll be ready."


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