Ravens center Matt Birk was absent from the practice field for a third straight day Wednesday at the teams training camp in Owings Mills.
Birk, 36, is the Ravens second-oldest player (trailing only 37-year-old Ray Lewis), and head coach John Harbaugh downplayed his absence after Tuesdays practice, saying Birk is at the stage in his career where he probably is going to practice less than hes not going to practice.
A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Birk has fought a variety of knee and leg injuries in recent years, yet he has never missed a start since joining the Ravens in 2009. Harbaughs comment suggests the Ravens are going to let him skip some training camp practices in hopes of keeping him as fresh as possible for the regular season.
Birk signed a three-year, 8.5 million contract in February after having contemplated retirement.
Birk missed a lot of training camp and didnt play a down in the preseason last year after undergoing knee surgery, but was ready when the regular season began.
His absence from three straight practices this week does raise questions about whether he is fully healthy. He underwent surgery to repair varicose veins in June.
There was no indication that Birk had any injury problems when he met with reporters last week.