After a long and uncommon battle with a tonsil illness, Ravens quarterback Troy Smith is finally cleared for light workouts, according to Dr. Andrew Tucker, the team's head physician.
And while there is no timetable on the former Heisman Trophy-winner's return, Tucker did say that Smith should be able to play again this year.
Smith came down with his illness Aug. 22 when the Ravens traveled to St. Louis for a preseason matchup.
Expected to start that game against the Rams, Smith's condition rendered him unable to make play calls. He went on to lose nearly 20 pounds when a blood clot on the internal jugular vein in his throat caused an infection in his lungs.
"Tonsil infections are very common, but this type of complication is extraordinarily rare," Tucker noted. "Troy was just simply extremely unlucky."
Now, Smith can begin the long process back to the field after he was firmly in the running for the Ravens' starting quarterback spot in training camp.
With Smith sidelined and a shoulder injury shelving Kyle Boller on Injured Reserve, the Ravens then turned to rookie and first-round draft pick Joe Flacco, who performed solidly in the season opener and was scheduled to start Week 2.
Head coach John Harbaugh thinks Smith's eventual playing time will be determined after answering a litany of questions – the most important of which is health.
"We don't know what our situation is going to be when he comes back," Harbaugh said. "We think he's a heck of a quarterback, and he's going to make our team stronger when he comes back. There's no question about it. It's going to be partly medical. How strong is he? Conditioning-wise, when's he at full strength? Partly football strategy, what role can he play to help us win? Where Joe [Flacco] is at, where the offense is at, where our team is at that time.
"I know one thing: When he comes back, it's going to be a big plus for us."
The Ravens have kept Smith on the active roster all year, as the team doesn't currently plan to place him on Injured Reserve, which would end his second season in Baltimore prematurely.
But Flacco's top backup for the time being is 10-year veteran Todd Bouman. Journeyman signal-caller Casey Bramlet is on the Ravens' practice squad.
Smith was treated by Ravens ear, eye, nose and throat specialist Dr. Alan Shikani and given intravenous and oral antibiotics to combat his infection. He has also been attending team meetings at the Ravens' training facility.
Tucker and team officials came to a ruling about Smith's medical status after reviewing tests at Union Memorial Hospital last Friday.
"Recent tests at the end of last week at Union indicated that the pockets of infection in the lungs are significantly improved," Tucker explained. "Troy feels much better. We anticipate him continuing to improve and [make] a full recovery, and we're all looking forward to the day when he gets back on the field."