Notebook: Gaither's neck stiff, sore

OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither said his neck remains sore after colliding with quarterback Joe Flacco and being carted off the field Sunday against the New England Patriots, but he's still optimistic of a speedy return.

Although Gaither is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals and possibly be sidelined for as long as a few weeks, he's not counting himself out just yet due to a severe stinger in what amounted to a few pinched nerves. "I'm not ruling this week out and skipping to next week or anything like that," said Gaither, whose X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging exams revealed no structural damage.

Gaither said he's relieved that the injury wasn't more serious.

"I was concerned," he said. "I was hurt. I'm hurting, but I'm doing better now. I'm definitely pleased and blessed."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn't giving up Gaither being in the lineup just yet. "Jared is feeling OK," Harbaugh said. "The neck is a little stiff. He's got a chance to play on Sunday."

The 6-foot-9, 340-pounder is wearing an extremely large white brace around his neck.

"Really the brace is just to relax my muscles, so I'm not supporting the neck on my own," Gaither said. "The brace helps me with muscle spasms and things like that."

Gaither didn't practice Wednesday. The former University of Maryland player isn't inclined to take any risks with the neck, but he's accustomed to playing hurt and played with one arm last season against the New York Giants when he injured his shoulder.

"I know the neck is an essential part of playing football, but really I'm just day by day," Gaither said. "Every day, I'm getting two or three treatments and working to come back."

If Gaither is out, the Ravens would start rookie Michael Oher at left tackle and shift Marshal Yanda into Oher's right tackle spot.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Derrick Mason (neck) and linebacker Jarret Johnson (left shoulder) didn't practice. Wide receiver Demetrius Williams was held out due to an illness.

Cornerback and kick returner Chris Carr was limited due to a groin injury.

Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden, who missed the Patriots game due to a concussion, participated fully and was listed as having a shoulder injury on the injury report.

"I'm definitely back this week," Gooden said. "They just kept me out last game as a precaution."

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (back) and free safety Ed Reed (knee) participated fully.

VALID ARGUMENT?: NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson opted on Tuesday to not fine any of the Ravens for their derogatory complaints about the officiating from referee Ron Winter and his crew during a 27-21 loss to the Patriots.

So, what does it mean?

It could be interpreted as a tacit acknowledgement that the Ravens might have had a point about two borderline roughing the passer penalties and some shaky spots of the football.

"It's a respect factor for me on that," said middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who was the most vocal critic as he called the officials' work an embarrassment to the league. "Our league does a great job of controlling the outcome of games and really controlling what goes on in between the lines.

"You can never discredit that. I think they understood where we were coming from. I think there is a great level of respect from both sides."

Harbaugh has been in touch over the past two days with the league office, including Anderson and vice president of officiating Mike Pereira.

"Our comments after the game were directed toward concerns that we had and things that we wanted to grow from," Harbaugh said. "It was back and forth. They confirmed everything and we're not allowed to talk about any of that stuff. It's between the league and the team

"And it's an opportunity for us to understand better, for them to understand better. When it's all said and done, we get better, the officiating gets better. That's all part of the process."

HAPPY TO BE BACK: Rejoining the Ravens for his first practice since being signed off the Patriots' practice squad, inside linebacker Prescott Burgess is glad to be back in the fold.

"Of course, this is the defense I know like the back of my hand," Burgess said. "I had the opportunity to come back and I just want to make the best of it. I just have to be ready for whenever they call my number."

Burgess replaces special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo on the active roster. Ayanbadejo is on injured reserve and underwent surgery Wednesday to repair his torn left quadriceps tendon.

"Prescott's one of us," Harbaugh said. "He's a Raven. He'll be a big part of our plays. He may be active this week. We've got to figure out that linebacking corps.

"We have a lot of good young linebackers, so we feel we've got adequate replacements for Brendon at this point."

QUICK HITS: Bengals rookie offensive tackle Andre Smith is out with a fractured foot. … Running back Cedric Benson (hip), linebackers Rey Maualuga (knee) and Rashad Jeanty (finger) and safety Chinedum Ndukwe (hamstring) didn't practice. Defensive tackles Domata Peko and Tank Johnson (foot) were limited, and safety Roy Williams (forearm) and cornerback David Jones (foot) participated fully. … Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis will never forget the mentoring he received from former Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, the Bengals' coach. "Yeah, the teacher and the pupil from Day One," Lewis said. "It's always about what he's thinking over there and what he's telling the guys. So, the bottom line is that you always have to prepare for that. You always have to prepare for the little things that he's going to tell them about you or tell them that they can do this or they can do that. You're always trying to counter it one way or another. … Elected last week as the replacement for Matt Stover as the Ravens' new players union representative, tight end Todd Heap is determined to do a good job. "You want to be a little more informed, and I think the main thing is keeping the team informed," Heap said. "I think that is the biggest responsibility. Guys are going to come to you with questions, and you need to know the answers or get the answer quickly." Carr is the alternate player rep.

Ravens Insider Top Stories