Early production from running back Willis McGahee can help the Ravens win this weekend against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium, but he is also hoping to contribute late.
McGahee has yet to finish out a game this year.
After missing the season opener, McGahee was taken out in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 28-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns because of a profusely bleeding cut on his eyelid. Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, McGahee only had one second-half carry in a 23-20 overtime loss after bruising his ribs.
While the rib injury leaves his status in question for the Titans matchup, the Pro Bowl playmaker is sick of watching his teammates battle without him.
"I have one goal this week, and that's to finish an entire game and help my team win," he said before Wednesday's practice. "I want to be a part of it. It's no fun sitting on the sideline."
McGahee hopes to have the chance to finally accomplish that goal Sunday, but first he must recover from a serious case of bruised ribs, which was the Ravens' only injury of concern in Pittsburgh.
The six-year veteran was listed as "limited" in practice on Baltimore's Wednesday injury report.
"We think he's going to be OK," said head coach John Harbaugh. "We'll just have to see how the rib goes this week."
He was hurt at the 1:31 mark in the second quarter when a Steelers' helmet smacked violently into his side. McGahee returned to run once for 1 yard in the third, but was pulled in favor of 260-pound fullback Le'Ron McClain for the remainder.
In the first half, McGahee tallied 41 yards on 12 carries, but he was helped off the field by Ravens trainers before halftime following a 1-yard plunge up the middle. He received X-rays that ruled out any fractures.
McGahee broke his ribs in Week 16 against the Seattle Seahawks last year, which held him out of the finale, but it is unclear whether the same ribs are currently affected.
This time, the injury is something McGahee will have to tough out.
"You can pad it up, but regardless it's still going to be there," he said. "You can have surgery on your knee, get it padded up and then get hit there again. You're going to feel it regardless."
"It's different this time. Last year, I think I broke two of them and I couldn't move. I can move on this one. This one is in my back. I just don't want to overdo it. The ribs are doing pretty good.
Even though three torn ligaments in his left knee – suffered in the fourth quarter of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl – forced him to rehab his entire rookie season after he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, McGahee has been relatively healthy throughout his career. He has only missed three games since 2004.
He required arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month, which kept McGahee out of Baltimore's Week 1 17-10 win against the Cincinnati Bengals. As such, he is currently second on the team with 28 attempts for 106 yards.
All of the recent injuries have left McGahee irritated, an emotion only a full day of work will heal.
"I want to finish a complete game and walk off the field with a bruise on my arm and things like that," he stated. "I would say it's frustrating, but not frustrating. It's nothing major pulling me out. It's the little things like the eyes.
"You just put it behind you and keep going forward."
They may only be week-to-week nicks and bruises, but McGahee feels such injuries could happen to any football player.
That said, McGahee takes umbrage at ESPN's Suzy Kolber, who suggested during the *Monday Night Football *broadcast that he got hurt because he declined to attend organized team activities.
"That's what bothers me, that people say I got hurt because I wasn't here for OTAs," McGahee said. "If you're here for OTAs, then what? They're going to say, 'He worked so hard. It's a shame.' It doesn't work like that.
"Things happen in football. I got hit and got hurt. If you show me a way to prevent that, my ribs would have been stronger. I guess I'm not drinking enough milk."