He didn't run out of the tunnel, but the Ravens' emotional leader was back with his team this past Sunday. Ray Lewis suffered a torn triceps on October 14 in the Ravens victory over the Dallas Cowboys, and has been away from the team since his October 17 surgery. He surprised coaches and teammates, who were under the impression that the veteran linebacker was in Florida, when he showed up during last Friday's practice.
Just days before Lewis' surprise appearance, head coach John Harbaugh told the media that he didn't expect to see the future Hall of Famer in Baltimore anytime soon.
“I can tell you this, he’s got the best doctors in the world – to my understanding – working on his triceps,” Harbaugh said. “So, I fully trust Ray with his rehab right now; I know he’s doing everything he can to get back.”
Lewis' friend and teammate running back Ray Rice had spoken with Lewis on the phone, and he was more optimistic.
“After he’s done all his little things – he’s got to take care of himself – I’d say middle of next week,” Rice predicted, adding, “I’ll be excited to see him because Ray Lewis is the modern day Superman.”
After watching Friday practice alongside Harbaugh, Lewis spoke to the team. He also gave the pre-game speech before the Ravens 55-20 routing of the Oakland Raiders. When the camera panned to Lewis in-game on the sideline, he looked ready to spring onto the field at any moment.
Lewis' return to football is unlikely, however. It typically takes about six months to return to full capacity after a triceps tear. The team has left the door open for the 37-year-old legend to put the pads back on this season by placing him on the IR with the designated for return option.
In a statement released to the media, Lewis said, “It's truly great to be back with my teammates. I've really missed these guys and the feel of being around the team and in the locker room. I am focused on rehabbing and getting my arm and body as strong as they can be.”
He went on to say that he's hard at work and plans to return and help out his team, but until then, he'll be “the biggest cheerleader.”
The heart and soul of the Baltimore Ravens has returned to Florida to continue his rehab, but he left with the clear message that he would be back.