Notebook: Gaither's health still puzzling

WESTMINSTER -- The status of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither hasn't changed, meaning it's bad news for the health-challenged lineman. Gaither remains sidelined with back spasms after visiting back specialist Dr. John Carbone over the weekend. He hasn't practiced since last week. "Nothing new," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's still in limbo."

A few days ago, Harbaugh acknowledged that missing this much practice time is having a negative effect on Gaither's prospects for playing time.

Gaither has experienced a drastic weight loss since the spring, dieting and exercising his way down to 311 pounds. He played last season at roughly 340 pounds and has admitted that he overdid the weight loss.

His blood work has come back negative. Once he's healthy, Gaither is expected to start at right tackle with Michael Oher listed as first on the depth chart at left tackle.

Do the Ravens have Gaither's condition diagnosed? "I think we know what it is, and it's just a matter of working out those spasms and getting him out here," Harbaugh said. "From what I've been told, it's not serious. There's one more thing they're going to do to make sure it's not serious."

Meanwhile, offensive tackle Oniel Cousins is running with the first-team offense at right tackle and is expected to start Thursday night when the Ravens open the preseason against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium.

Cousins has been working his way back into form after undergoing throat surgery this offseason to remove a noncancerous cyst from his esophagus. Harbaugh said there are some signs of rust with Cousins.

"Yeah, at times, but, at times, he looks like he hasn't missed at all," he said. "To me, he's further along than I thought he would be, but he's got a ways to go. We've got plenty of camp left, and he shouldn't have a problem."

NGATA HAS MINOR BACK ISSUE: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata limped off the field with back spasms.

It's regarded as a minor ailment.

"I think he caught a helmet or something in his back," Harbaugh said. "He should be fine."

Ngata underwent surgery this offseason to repair a torn pectoral muscle suffered during the Pro Bowl, but has made a complete recovery.

CARR SIDELINED: Cornerback Chris Carr is playing it safe when it comes to a hamstring injury incurred Saturday where he grabbed the back of his left leg.

He'd like to be back as soon as Thursday night, but he has to consider his long-term health. "You want to be out there, you want to compete," Carr said. "You feel guilty in the back of your mind, but you know the ultimate goal is to get ready for the first game, the New York Jets. I don't want to do anything to cause me to miss a game.

"I've never missed a game before and I don't plan on missing a game. It's tough because I feel like I've been playing well. I've been in a groove. I just have to be smart about it."

The Ravens need Carr to get healthy since Domonique Foxworth is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Lardarius Webb isn't off the physically unable to perform list with his own surgically-repaired knee injury from last season and cornerback Prince Miller wasn't at practice Monday after his girlfriend gave birth to a baby girl.

Carr said he feels like he's healing quickly.

"Yeah, I feel like it is," Carr said. "Not as fast as I would like. I don't like seeing all my teammates out there when everybody's down. It's tough not being out there. You want to work on your skills and your technique, but I'll be back out there soon enough. I don't want to rush it, though. I want to be ready for the season."

INJURY UPDATES: Offensive tackle David Hale was back on the field and able to practice after being out since late last week with a back injury.

"It was just stiffness in my back," he said. "Backs are tricky. It's nothing big. It was precautionary."

Meanwhile, wide receiver Derrick Mason (bruised left knee) returned to practice as well as offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers (knee, ankle), linebacker Tavares Gooden (undisclosed) and cornerback K.J. Gerard (hamstring).

"I told you I'd be back soon," said Gooden, who sat out Sunday's practice.

Rookie offensive tackle Ramon Harewood didn't practice and had both his knees wrapped up . Also not practicing: Miller, offensive tackle Tony Moll (concussion) and safety Marcus Paschal (right quadriceps).

Still on the physically unable to perform list: Webb, safety Ed Reed (hip), running back Matt Lawrence (knee) and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps).

PLAYING TIME: Harbaugh indicated that the starters will only play roughly one quarter against Carolina.

"It will be standard to what you see in the preseason," he said. ‘The starters will play no more than a quarter, and just kind of work it from there."

Meanwhile, the dueling kickers are expected to divide their work into one half apiece. It's unclear if Shayne Graham or Billy Cundiff will go first, but Graham has been with the first-team kicking group throughout camp.

"We'll have a plan," Harbaugh said. "We haven't talked about it specifically, but my guess is we'll have a first-half and a second-half plan and just alternate throughout the preseason."

Cundiff connected on every one of his eight field goals Monday while Graham converted 10 of 11 kicks. His lone miss was from 51 yards.

QUICK HITS: Fabian Washington was in position to intercept a Marc Bulger pass intended for Donte' Stallworth, but Stallworth tipped it to himself for an exciting catch. … Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs dominated the one-on-one drills and full-team drills with a series of sacks. Cousins struggled to slow him down. … Wide receiver Anquan Boldin hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco over his shoulders. … The Ravens have extended their partnership with the Maryland Lottery for another year with team president Dick Cass and Maryland Lottery director Stephen Martino making the announcement Monday at practice. "We're looking forward to a second year," Cass said. "We've got a lot of prizes and are aiming to sell of the tickets again this year." The $5 scratch-off tickets feature three $1 million prizes.


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