Now that Willis McGahee feels his right knee is healthy, the Ravens expect him to join a talented committee of running backs when the Cleveland Browns come to M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.
But, the Pro Bowler is not likely to start.
With Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain leading the way to 229 rushing yards in a Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore's coaches are comfortable easing McGahee back into the lineup as he knocks the rust off his surgically-cleaned knee.
"He'll complement Le'Ron," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said of McGahee. "Ray [Rice], you saw him in the game the other day, he's just getting better and better and better and better.
"Those are the two backs that we're going with, and Willis' role will increase."
Coming off a season where he rushed for 1,207 yards and ran for a touchdown in seven consecutive games, McGahee was absent for most of the offseason minicamps and had his training camp cut short when he needed arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
With McGahee sitting out all four preseason games and the Ravens' season opener, Rice and McClain – running behind veteran fullback Lorenzo Neal – showed that they have the ability to carry the load.
The postponement of Baltimore's Week 2 matchup with the Houston Texans (to Week 10) gave McGahee a few extra days to rest his knee.
And now that he is off the injury report, head coach John Harbaugh is happy to have another playmaker on the field.
"We're going to use all of our good players and put them in positions where they do what they do well," Harbaugh said. "So, we're going to put our running backs out there and let them play."
McGahee thinks his knee is fine to take a full day of work, but he'll be content with however many snaps coaches give him in his 2008 debut.
"This Sunday, I envision myself playing a regular game, trying to make as many plays that I can," McGahee said. "Whatever it is, I'm going to go out there and play regardless, if I'm sharing or not. The knee is good. It's just me going out to play on the football field, knocking the rust off."
Rotation at Tackle, Too?
Sunday will also mark the on-field debut of right tackle Willie Anderson, who is expected to rotate with starter Adam Terry at points in the game.
When the four-time Pro Bowler does come in, Terry will probably move to Jared Gaither's left tackle spot.
"Those young guys are the focus of this team, and we're just seeing where this thing is going," Anderson said. "Adam is doing a great job, and we're just trying to get the reps to see what the coaches have in store for us."
All three – Anderson, Terry and Gaither – could also potentially see time together in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
"We've got three tackles that we've got a lot of confidence in," Cameron said. "There could be some scenarios where Adam [Terry] is in there at left and Willie goes to right. With Jared Gaither, it's kind of a three-man situation."
Cameron also praised how Anderson, a 13-year Bengals veteran is picking up the playbook after only two weeks as a Raven.
Anderson, in turn, praised his fellow offensive linemen for helping him in the meeting room.
"It's something that comes with being a veteran, but it's also about the guys in the O-line room and having good teammates," he said. "From the starting group to the second team are all smart guys and well-coached. They've been able to help me to transition the terminology from what I knew to the plays we have here."
For the second consecutive day, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (knee) did not practice Thursday, along with linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg) and cornerback Corey Ivy (ankle).
In Gregg's place with the first team, Justin Bannan has filled in admirably, posting four tackles and one sack in Baltimore's opener.
"When we brought Justin in, it was to be a starter," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan explained. "So we thought he was a starter in this league and we liked the way he played, and we still do."
Bannan was signed in the 2006 offseason after four years with the Buffalo Bills.
The Ravens are 11-7 all-time against the Browns, including 6-3 at home. The Ravens have won four of the last five contests at M&T Bank Stadium…Baltimore is looking to snap a two-game losing streak to the Browns, as Cleveland swept the Ravens in both 2007 meetings. "There's extra in this game because they whooped our [butts] twice [in 2007]," said linebacker Terrell Suggs. "You just don't recover from that. You don't sleep well at night when a team beats you two times."