The heart and soul of the Ravens* *defense is back on the active roster.
The Ravens activated linebacker Ray Lewis from the injured reserve – designated for return list.
Although Lewis is now eligible to play, Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed on Wednesday that he will not suit up against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"He is progressing really well," Harbaugh said after Sunday night's game. "I'm not saying he couldn't have played the last couple of weeks, but it would've been risky to reinjure it. The fact that there was some patience on Ray's part and our part, it turned out well."
To make room for Lewis, Baltimore sent wide receiver LaQuan Williams (thigh) to injured reserve. Harbaugh said Williams had a hamstring injury that had been bothering him that he tweaked in Sunday's game versus the New York Giants.
Lewis has been out since Oct. 14, when he tore his triceps* *against the Dallas Cowboys. It was thought then to be a season-, and possibly career-ending, injury for the 17-year veteran.
But Lewis went through intense rehab to get back to the field. Doctors told him it was four months minimum before he could return, but Lewis was back on the practice field as soon as he was allowed by NFL rules.
"I wasn't having that," Lewis told BaltimoreRavens.com last week. "I called Ozzie [Newsome], and I told him that I could come back and help the team this season.
Having Lewis back helps the Ravens on multiple levels.
Lewis' mere presence is a boost from a leadership standpoint. It also gives the Ravens additional help at a thinned inside linebacker position with Jameel McClain (spinal cord contusion) on injured reserve. Lewis will presumably replace Brendon Ayanbadejo and Josh Bynes next to Dannell Ellerbe when he plays.
"It's the greatest linebacker to ever play the game," Ellerbe said. "That's always going to be a big boost. His leadership, his determination to come back from his injury, it's going to give the whole team a boost. We are just looking forward to getting him back, because we all know what he brings to the game."
Running back Ray Rice, who talks to Lewis constantly, said Lewis could have played last week versus New York, but that "his gut instinct told him to not play." The Ravens clinched the AFC North without him.
"We did our job. Our job was to get him to the playoffs," Rice said. "If Ray Lewis comes back this week, that's still up to him. Right now, we know for a fact that some time in the playoffs, we'll have Ray Lewis."