Even in the midst of uncertainty at quarterback, the Ravens are solidifying their receiving corps with the return of Demetrius Williams.
Williams finally passed his physical this week and returned to the practice field Monday after a long absence while he battled an injury to his left Achilles tendon.
Head coach John Harbaugh hopes to have Williams in the lineup Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons – at least for a few snaps.
"I think it's definitely a 'pitch count,'" Harbaugh said Tuesday of limiting Williams' playing time. "It's going to be based on what Bill [Tessendorf, head medical trainer] thinks. That's something that we wanted to see [previously injured players] go through during these two days of practice and see how far along we are.
"Probably right before the game [we will make a decision]."
For Williams, it has been a long road to recovery.
A fourth-round draft pick in 2006, he was poised to break out last season after showing flashes of explosive ability by averaging 18.0 yards per catch as a rookie.
But, the 6-foot-2, 197-pound wideout only saw action in nine games in 2007 before a high-ankle sprain shelved him for the remainder of the year.
Watching his team limp to a 5-11 record from the sidelines caused him to work even harder this offseason to come back healthy as ever.
"I don't want to miss any games like last year," Williams said. "That's one of my goals."
Williams seemed to leapfrog Mark Clayton on the depth chart when he began taking more reps with the starters through early minicamp practices, but the Achilles injury appeared in a late May passing camp.
As he rehabbed, which included wearing a stabilizing leg brace every time he walked on the field at training camp, Williams drew strength from his previous experience with injuries.
"You can't get frustrated about it," he said. "It's part of the game. You have to approach it in a positive way, because a lot of things come into play. Last year was a bad thing, but it was also somewhat of a good thing."
Still, returning from such a disappointing setback made the simple virtue of patience somewhat challenging.
"Any point in time when you get hurt, it never goes along at the pace you want it to, but it definitely is coming along," Williams noted. "Each day, I'm just being positive about it, and each step is one in the right direction."
Williams could see anywhere from one to three series if he's able to suit up in the preseason finale, but he is also wary about rushing back into action.
Sporting a slowly-growing orange mowhawk, the University of Oregon product doesn't want to try to do too much at the expense of games later in the regular season.
"You want to get out there, learn the plays and get that quarterback relationship again, but at the same time, you don't want to do something that's detrimental to you and being out there in a week or two," he explained. "It's definitely about being smart.
"Right now it's going day-by-day," he continued. "I'll see how it feels, but the last few days I've been out practicing, it's been feeling good."
Getting up to game speed may make this week's preseason contest beneficial to Williams, but even so, he is eyeing the Ravens' Sept. 7 opener with the Cincinnati Bengals as his definite debut.
Williams may not be a full 100 percent, but after going through the trials of 2007, he now knows that not many NFL players ever are.
"I've been dealing with it for a while, so I've been able to concentrate on it and not let it get me down," said Williams. "It's just something that is there right now, so I'm going to have to play with it.
"This year is critical year for our team. We have a lot to prove, and I have a lot to prove to myself. Any opportunity to get back on the field, I'm going to take it."