Ray Lewis returned to Ravens headquarters Friday for the first time since tearing his triceps nearly four weeks ago, and he wasn't there to give his retirement speech.
In a statement released by the team, Lewis indicated that he plans to return to the Ravens, although it's unclear whether he meant coming back this season or 2013.
“It’s truly great to be back with my teammates," Lewis said in his first public comments since the injury. "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. I will speak in person when I know a little more about my progress. I’m working hard and looking forward to coming back and helping this team. But right now, the focus should be on the guys playing, and I’ll be the biggest cheerleader I can be for them.”
Lewis' appearance is a good sign for the Ravens. In the past, Lewis would keep his distance from the team after suffering a season-ending injury and stay in Florida to recover. While Lewis isn't close to suiting up again, his presence provides a big lift for the entire team, especially a defense that has struggled for most of the season.
I've written repeatedly that Lewis wouldn't retire because he wants to leave the game on his own terms. His visit makes me more confident about that. This shows that Lewis misses the game and his teammates.
But I'm not confident that we'll see Lewis on the field this season. The Ravens placed Lewis on injured reserve with a designation to return, which means he would be eligible to return on Dec. 12. But, based on the recovery period from torn triceps, it's highly unlikely that Lewis would be healthy enough to play in the regular season and most of the postseason. His best shot is playing in the Super Bowl, assuming the Ravens make it that far.