Lardarius Webb Activated

OWINGS MILLS – Lardarius Webb sprinted, backpedaled, cut and hopped into the ai, enthusiastically scooting around the Baltimore Ravens' practice field Monday after being activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Although the cornerback's right leg is still wrapped in a black compression sleeve, Webb didn't show any signs of hesitancy or an obvious hitch in his stride as he took part in individual drills.

The first practice back marked the culmination of a lot of grueling rehabilitation work for Webb since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last December against the Chicago Bears.

"It was fun," a smiling Webb said afterward. "Glad to be out with my teammates. They welcomed me back fine and dandy. It was great." The pending return of one of the Ravens' top cornerbacks could provide a major boost to a secondary that's still missing star free safety Ed Reed due to a hip injury. Now, Webb is in a race to be ready for the Ravens' Sept. 13 season-opener against the New York Jets.

At this time, the Ravens won't set a timetable for Webb's return to game action. Privately, team officials remain optimistic that Webb could contribute as soon as the Jets game. Webb is considered unlikely to play Saturday against the New York Giants, and a Sept. 2 preseason finale on the road against the St. Louis Rams could be problematic since they have a tough artificial surface at their stadium. "I really don't know," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You'd love to just because if he's out there doing it, you'd know he was ready. But we're not going to push it. We're not going to do anything earlier than we are completely sure that there won't be a setback. .. "My thoughts are all good thoughts about Lardarius being out there. He went through individual, looked good moving around. I know he's excited." As far as the Jets game, Harbaugh was similarly noncommittal.

"I wish I could, but I'm not a doctor," Harbaugh said. "The doctors don't even tell us because they don't know, so it's just impossible to put a number on it."

The Ravens are going to follow a similar blueprint for Webb to how they eased cornerback Fabian Washington back into action. Washington tore his ACL last November, and had the same surgeon as Webb: Dr. James Andrews. First, Washington practiced for a few weeks on a non-contact basis. Then, he started against the Washington Redskins over the weekend and nearly intercepted a pass.

"I know Lardarius is close," Washington said. "You can see it when he's doing the drills. It's a breath of fresh air, seriously. We could definitely use the man. The guy's a playmaker. I'm waiting on him to be back fully and healthy. "I know the way they brought me back worked great for me because they didn't force me into any games too early. Each person is going to be different, but I think he's close."

Webb emphasized that he'll follow his own path to recovery and listen to what his knee is telling him and not try to simply duplicate Washington's schedule.

"I'm not trying to do things that he did," Webb said. "This is my body, so I think it's going to have to wait to see how my body reacts." Besides the physical aspect of getting ready for the demands of playing cornerback again, Webb has to regain trust in his surgically-repaired knee so he won't be fearful that it's going to give out on him again.

"It's just getting used to playing football again," he said. "Just being out there covering a wide receiver again, just the little things like that." In four starts and 14 games as a rookie last season after being drafted in the third round, Webb recorded 35 tackles, one sack and six pass deflections.

He also ran back a kickoff for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos. Webb was reluctant to say when he'll be back 100 percent and deferred questions to Harbaugh. Last week, he said he preferred to not play in the preseason altogether.

Last season, Webb was a valuable cornerback as well as how he operated on kickoff returns and as a gunner on the punt team. "I haven't been rehabbing just to get back to play one thing," Webb said. "I've been rehabbing to get back to my full self, and my full self does everything. I want to do everything I can possibly do when I get back to 100 percent." Webb haunted the Ravens' training complex after suffering the injury, spending countless hours working with trainer Bill Tessendorf to strengthen his knee.

He only missed a few days of workouts, and that was to attend his grandfather's funeral. "It was a lot of hard work," Webb said. "It was hard waking up coming up here every day, but it was easy once I got here to put the work in because I wanted to be back."

Getting Webb back could ease some concerns about the Ravens needing to execute a trade to upgrade the depth in the secondary. For now, Webb said he has no defined goals for the season.

"My expectations are to get through this whole season healthy and to help my team win a championship," Webb said. "Play my role, if that's cheering them on, on the sideline, if that's being the starting corner or starting nickel, hey, I could be a coach. It doesn't matter. I just want to be part of this team this year. So, I'm doing everything to get back with these guys


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