(Updated: 3:50 p.m.)
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In their final full practice open to the media ahead of their playoff game against the Denver Broncos, the Ravens regained two vital members of their offensive backfield as backup running back Bernard Pierce and Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach returned to practice on Thursday.
Each player worked on a limited basis in the Ravens’ final full practice of the week before departing for Denver on Friday afternoon. Pierce hadn’t participated in practices in the previous two days as he’s dealt with a knee injury. The veteran Leach has been hindered by an ankle injury for the last month and received Wednesday’s practice off after working on Tuesday.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe worked on a limited basis once again, but two players were added to Thursday’s report as wide receivers Torrey Smith (back) and David Reed (thigh) were limited participants as well.
“It’s encouraging to have all our guys,” coach John Harbaugh said. “As I pointed out earlier, we’re not anticipating anybody missing this game. We’ll have that report out for you, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything on there that’s going to surprise you at all. We look like we’re in good shape.”
Pierce relished the opportunity for some extra rest as he’s dealing with a sore right knee. The 2012 third-round pick watched practice from the sideline on Tuesday and Wednesday, which was a good indication that the Ravens weren’t overly concerned about the injury.
In contrast to Pierce, Leach has typically received at least one practice off in each of the last few weeks to rest his sore ankle. The three-time Pro Bowl selection removed any doubt that he would be ready to go against Denver. All signs point to Pierce being available as well.
“I had to take it easy a couple days,” said Pierce, who rushed for a game-high 103 yards in the wild-card playoff win over Indianapolis. “My body was real beat up, but I’m back. I’m feeling good, and it’s time to play football.”
The rookie back has become a larger part of the running game over the last five games in which he’s rushed for 388 yards on 62 attempts, which is good for just below 6.3 yards per carry. Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice remains a large part of the offense, but many are calling for the physical Pierce to receive extensive work to wear down opposing front sevens.
Regardless of his strong performance over the weeks of the season, Pierce said there will be no way to keep him off the field in terms of his health for Saturday.
“I’m a very competitive person,” Pierce said. “I’m ready to die for my team on any given Sunday, so I’m not missing anything.”
Guard Jah Reid (toe) was the only player absent from practice on Thursday as his status for the divisional playoff game in Denver remains in serious doubt. The second-year offensive lineman did not play in last Sunday’s win over Indianapolis, leading the Ravens to insert veteran Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and slide rookie Kelechi Osemele to left guard and Michael Oher to right tackle.
There were no changes to the Broncos’ injury report on Thursday as cornerback Tracy Porter (concussion) was the only player not to participate.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Jah Reid (toe)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), WR David Reed (thigh), WR Torrey Smith (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Adrian Hamilton (illness), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/bicep), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Tracy Porter (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Mike Adams (knee), T Ryan Clady (shoulder), T Orlando Franklin (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (ankle), G Chris Kuper (ankle), S Jim Leonhard (thigh), WR Matt Willis (knee)
(Updated: 3:50 p.m.)