With the New England Patriots coming to town, what better time for the Ravens to get closer to full strength?
Three players who have been out with injuries returned to practice Wednesday as limited participants – wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle), inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (ankle) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee).
Brown and Onwuasor have missed the past two games, while Smith has been out since suffering his injury Week 1.
For Smith, it's almost like the season is starting over. He played just six snaps against the Miami Dolphins before suffering his injury, but after weeks of intense rehab, Smith said he will play Sunday and insists he doesn't feel rusty.
"I was here every day, I was on every trip, meeting and all that stuff," Smith said. "I really was never away. We worked every day. Good to go."
Onwuasor started at the first five games before suffering his ankle injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That was Onwuasor's best game of the season, starting at weakside linebacker after playing the first four games at middle linebacker. The return of Onwuasor would allow the Ravens to use a three-man rotation at inside linebacker featuring Onwuasor, Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort.
Brown (15.5 yards per catch, three touchdowns) is the Ravens' biggest deep threat, and his return would give the Ravens more options attacking Patriots, who have the AFC's top-ranked defense.
"I'm just progressing day by day, feeling better," Brown said. "They're a fast defense, make a ton of plays, always in the right spots. I can just bring speed, make plays, stretch the defense.
Veteran safety Earl Thomas (knee) sat out Wednesday's practice, while cornerback Maurice Canady (thigh) was limited.
Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Iman Marshall (IR-designated to return) returned to practice. The fourth-round pick was placed on IR Sept. 2 with an undisclosed injury. The Ravens have a 21-day window during which Marshall can either be activated or placed on IR for the remainder of the season.
Patriots Have Full Participation at Practice
Good health has been a key to the Patriots' success this season and their entire roster participated in Wednesday's practice.
Eight players were listed as limited participants – quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder), running back Rex Burkhead (foot), safety Patrick Chung (heel/chest), guard Shaq Mason (ankle), wide receivers Julian Edelman (chest/shoulder) and Gunner Olszewski (ankle/hamstring); and tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse (knee).