As COVID-19 list shrinks, Ravens hope to be close to full strength at Cleveland


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Preparing for a critical Week 14 showdown full of playoff implications, the Ravens are hoping to be as close to full strength as possible against Cleveland on Monday night.

With tight end Mark Andrews, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, and slot receiver Willie Snead all activated over the last two days, Baltimore has just three players and no starters remaining on the reserve-COVID-19 list after enduring the largest virus outbreak of the NFL season to date. But the Ravens still have some injury concerns headlined by veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith, who missed Tuesday’s win over Dallas with a groin injury sustained in Week 12.

Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed Smith has a chance to play against a 9-3 Browns team coming off its biggest win of the season, but the 32-year-old hasn’t practiced since getting hurt early in the second quarter of the Dec. 2 loss to Pittsburgh. With Smith and fellow veteran Tramon Williams (thigh) out for Week 13, the returning Anthony Averett primarily served as the third cornerback against the Cowboys.

“We’re kind of watching how he progresses this week,” said Harbaugh about Smith. “I don’t know that he’ll be practicing [Thursday], but going forward in the week, we’ll see. He wouldn’t have to practice to play, but I’d like to see him practice if we can. We’ll just kind of see how he feels with it.”

Defensive end Calais Campbell was one of four players who received a veteran day off on Thursday after he made his return to action against the Cowboys. Campbell had missed the better part of four games before playing just 23 defensive snaps, well below his normal workload when healthy.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection has asthma and appeared to be laboring at a few different points during the 34-17 win, making it unclear whether his left calf was still bothering him or he was still feeling the effects of his bout with COVID-19.

“He got through it healthy,” Harbaugh said. “He was coming off of COVID reserve, and then he had had the calf strain previous to that. I think, just with time, he should continue to get better and better. He’ll be working on it this week.”

Two days after revealing he tested positive for COVID-19 and not being able to play against his former team, wide receiver Dez Bryant was officially placed on the COVID-19 list, joining rookie safety Geno Stone and injured cornerback Terrell Bonds. The 32-year-old Bryant revealed on Twitter that he had tested negative twice since Tuesday evening, but he wasn’t present for Thursday’s practice.

Asked about Bryant’s mixed messages on Twitter regarding his football future, Harbaugh confirmed the veteran wideout remains part of the Ravens’ plans upon completing his required isolation period.

“I don’t think it’s hard to understand why it would be such a tough thing emotionally, especially where he’s at in his career,” said Harbaugh about Bryant’s tweets during Tuesday’s game. “I think we could all put ourselves in his shoes on that for sure. I’m very sympathetic towards that and understanding of it.

“Ultimately, people make decisions for themselves, and that’s what they have to do.”

In practice squad news, Indianapolis signed offensive tackle Will Holden to its 53-man roster after he was reinstated from the Ravens’ COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Baltimore also activated tight end Eli Wolf from the practice squad injured reserve.

Meanwhile, the Browns’ biggest health question remains cornerback Denzel Ward, who has missed the last two games with a calf injury. Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters he “wouldn’t call it a long shot” for Ward to play against the Ravens.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Calais Campbell (non-injury), DB Anthony Levine (abdomen), OLB Pernell McPhee (non-injury), CB Marcus Peters (non-injury), CB Jimmy Smith (groin), DT Broderick Washington (concussion), CB Tramon Williams (thigh), DE Derek Wolfe (non-injury)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR KhaDarel Hodge (hamstring), CB Denzel Ward (calf)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Jack Conklin (knee), C JC Tretter (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Jarvis Landry (hip)