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Monday, December 5, 2011
Ravens' Ray Lewis to return Dec. 18?

ESPN.com news services

The Baltimore Ravens are targeting their Dec. 18 game against the San Diego Chargers for the return of linebacker Ray Lewis, who has missed the past three games with turf toe, the Baltimore Sun reported Monday, citing a team source.

The newspaper reported that Lewis took part in pregame warm-up Sunday before the Ravens' game against the Cleveland Browns and had no problems. Lewis reportedly has an insert for his shoe to help with the injury.

Lewis reportedly could have played against the Browns and also is all right to face the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday, but the newspaper reported that the Ravens are holding out until Dec. 18 to give him another week of rest.

The Ravens can take their time with Lewis because the results show they haven't missed him in the middle of the defense. Baltimore is 3-0 without its team leader, beating Cincinnati, San Francisco and Cleveland.

In three games without Lewis, the Ravens held those teams to an average of 13.3 points. In nine games with him, Baltimore has allowed 16.9 points per game.

The Ravens have used three undrafted players -- Dannell Ellerbe, Albert McClellan and Brendon Ayanbadejo -- to fill Lewis' spot.

Lewis still leads the Ravens with 68 tackles.

ESPN.com NFC North blogger Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.