John Harbaugh said on Friday that he is “very optimistic” that Steve Smith’s back injury will not sideline the Ravens leading receiver for an extended period of time.
Smith is dealing with microfractures in his back that will sideline him for this week’s game against the Browns, which will be the first game Smith has missed with the Ravens and the second game he’ll miss in the past five years.
Harbaugh said after the team’s Friday practice that he was “very optimistic” that Smith’s absence would not be an extended one.
“He’s working hard, he’s in there on the different equipment working really hard to get himself ready and making I’d say good progress,” Harbaugh said.
Earlier this week, Harbaugh described Smith as being in the "hall of fame of pain tolerance."
Smith, 36, has been by far the Ravens top receiver this year with 29 catches for 373 yards. The Ravens next two receivers, Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown, have a combined total of 19 catches for 240 yards.
In addition to Smith, the Ravens have lost Michael Campanaro (back) to injured reserve, and top rookie draft pick Breshad Perriman (knee) remains out indefinitely. That leaves Aiken, Brown, rookie Darren Waller and Chris Givens – who just joined the Ravens a week ago – as the Ravens only healthy receivers on the 53-man roster.
The Ravens have receivers Jeremy Ross and Jeremy Butler on the practice squad, but Harbaugh did not indicate whether any roster moves for Sunday would be coming before the 4 p.m. Saturday deadline to do so.