The Ravens had one of their most important players back on the field Wednesday morning.
Top cornerback Jimmy Smith returned to the practice as a full participant after missing the last two games with a back injury, which is an encouraging sign in terms of his status for Sunday's matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters Monday that Smith resumed running about a week ago, and that he was "close" to returning.
Back injuries can be difficult to predict, as evidenced by the fact that the Ravens hoped to have Smith available the last two weeks, so his status will still be a story to monitor throughout the rest of the week.
In Smith's absence, the Ravens have turned to Shareece Wright to replace him in the starting lineup alongside rookie Tavon Young. They have also used a combination of Jerraud Powers, Matt Elam and Lardarius Webb in their nickel packages.
S. Smith Fine After Coming Up Gimpy
There was a bit of a scare early in practice when wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. came up gimpy after colliding with Wright during individual drills. Smith popped right up and limped a little bit, but he still finished practice and wasn't even listed on the injury report.
"He practiced, so he was OK," Harbaugh said.
A receiver who did miss practice because of an injury was Kamar Aiken (thigh), but that injury is not considered too serious.
"He should be fine for Sunday," Harbaugh said. "He had a bruise. We will see how it develops."
Gillmore, Taliaferro Still Nursing Hamstring Injuries
Tight end Crockett Gillmore and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro both missed practice as they continue to deal with hamstring injuries.
Gillmore hasn't played since Oct. 23 and Taliaferro has missed the last two games.
While they've dealt with injuries, other young players have seized opportunities in their absence. The Ravens activated tight end Nick Boyle to the 53-man roster last week and rookie running back Kenneth Dixon has established himself as a good one-two punch with starter Terrance West.
Yanda Has Off Day, Lewis Continues To Miss Time
Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and left guard Alex Lewis (ankle) both didn't practice.
Harbaugh said that he gave Yanda an off day, which isn't a big surprise considering he's a 10-year veteran dealing with a shoulder problem. Yanda, naturally a right guard, made the switch to left guard two games ago and plans to remain in that spot because he's able to be more effective with the shoulder injury.
Lewis is also still working his way back from a high ankle sprain, and he's not expected back in the lineup until late in the year.
Dolphins Have Five Players Miss Practice
The Dolphins are dealing with some injury concerns, particularly on the offensive line.
They had three starters on the line miss Sunday's game, but left tackle Brandon Albert (wrist) and left guard Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) both returned as limited participants Wednesday. Starting center Mike Pouncey (hip) remained sidelined.
"We're so early in the evaluation stage as far as actually seeing these guys take reps in practice," Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase said. "It's still kind of up in the air for me."
The other players to miss practice were running back Kenyan Drake (knee), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (back) and wide receiver DeVante Parker (back).
The injury to Parker has the potential to be significant, as he's second on the team with 549 receiving yards. He injured his back after a hard fall in Sunday's game, and his absence would be a tough blow to their offense.