In a surprise visit to the Baltimore Ravens' facility Friday, Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis said he plans to return to the team, although it's unclear whether he was talking about this season or 2013.
It was the first time Lewis has returned to team headquarters since tearing his triceps nearly four weeks ago. He hugged teammates in the locker room and spoke to coach John Harbaugh on the practice field.
"It's truly great to be back with my teammates," Lewis said in a statement. "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."
The Ravens placed Lewis on injured reserve with a designation to return, which means he would be eligible to come back Dec. 12. However, based on the general recovery period for a torn triceps, it's highly unlikely 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, should the Ravens make it that far.
There have been questions whether Lewis would return for an 18th season. He turns 38 in May.
Before the injury, Lewis had hinted that he was close to calling it quits. Last summer, he said he couldn't see playing past the age of 37. And Lewis has talked about his desire to watch his son, Ray Lewis III, who will be a freshman running back at the University of Miami next fall.