Austin Howard didn't play in Thursday night's preseason opener, but the veteran right tackle drew perhaps the largest crowd of media members in the post-game locker room.
It was Howard's first time talking with the media since signing a three-contract reportedly worth $15 million, and his absence from practice has been a talking point for the last week. Howard has yet to practice since joining the Ravens, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said his status is in the hands of the trainers.
Howard didn't divulge any further information about his health, but said he's "absolutely" itching to get back on the field.
"As soon as possible," Howard said, when asked when he expects to return. "I trust the process and the knowledge of the coaches and the training staff. Just looking forward to getting back out there. Hopefully soon."
Howard, 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, had shoulder surgery this offseason, but said that isn't a lingering concern.
"Actually, the shoulder, everything is feeling great. All set to go," he said. "I had a really good surgery. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad of an injury. Right now, we're just ready to go and looking forward to getting back on the field."
The 30-year-old lineman was signed to be the likely starter at right tackle. He's started every game he's played over the last five years, and he will compete with James Hurst for the starting job.
Howard was released by the Oakland Raiders late last month, and signing with the Ravens was actually a return to Baltimore. He spent part of 2011 on Baltimore's practice squad before developing into one of the game's top right tackles.
"This is a great organization, a great place," Howard said. "I've got a great o-line coach [Joe D'Alessandris] and great group of guys in that room. I was very fortunate to land here."