Jameel McClain returned to the practice field this week.
The inside linebacker is cleared to play, but will he return to the starting lineup if he suits up Sunday against the Steelers?
"If he's ready to go, we'll be ready for him to go," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said on Thursday when asked about McClain's role.
McClain was a starter for the last three seasons before getting hurt late last year, and signs point to him re-gaining his starting job once he's ready. The Ravens indicated throughout McClain's absence that they expected him to return as a starter and leader in the middle of the defense.
"When he comes back, he will be a starter," Pees said back in May during one of the team's Organized Team Activities. "It will be his job to lose and we'll go from there."
Pees did make those comments before the Ravens signed veteran linebacker Daryl Smith, who has taken over the middle linebacker spot that opened when Ray Lewis retired.
Second-year linebacker Josh Bynes has started at weak-side linebacker first six games of this season and ranks fourth on the team with 34 total tackles. McClain could take over the Will linebacker role and line up next to Smith in the middle of the defense.
"I know what he means to the team, and it's going to be a huge lift for all of us," Smith said. "I'm ready to see him in action too and play with him, and I'm pretty sure everybody else is too."
The Ravens have until Saturday to decide whether to activate McClain and add him to the active roster. He spent the first six weeks of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and NFL rules allow players to practice for three weeks after coming off PUP before teams have to decide whether to put them on the active roster.
McClain said that he is "ready right now," but the Ravens have yet to announce a decision about his status for the weekend.
"I don't know," Pees said. "We'll take it day-to-day. We'll see how it goes. That's a decision for better minds to make than me."