The Baltimore Ravens received a surprise visit from injured star Ray Lewis, who was placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list over three weeks ago.
The 17-year veteran linebacker, rehabbing a torn right triceps away from the Ravens' team facility, wasn't expected to return to the team at this juncture of the season. However, Lewis is in town for a scheduled appearance Friday night and decided to catch the Ravens practicing during the day.
Lewis did not speak to the media Friday but released a statement saying he's happy to return to the team.
"I've really missed these guys and the feel of being around the team and in the locker room," Lewis said. "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 visit surprised coach John Harbaugh, who acknowledged he was unaware Lewis would be stopping by. Following Friday's practice, Lewis gave one of his signature speeches to help motivate his team for Sunday's game against Oakland.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who came back from an Achilles tear three weeks ago, said Lewis let them know he's preparing to come back later this season as long as the Ravens can make a playoff run.
"It's great to see the leader, the general of your army, out there," Suggs said. "He let us know he's on pace to come back. If we handle business he'll be back in a Ravens uniform this year. We have to do our part, though."
Through six games, Lewis recorded 57 tackles, which is still second-best on the roster and only behind safety Bernard Pollard. After the injury, Lewis was replaced in the starting lineup by Dannell Ellerbe, who's led the Ravens in tackles the past two games with nine in each contest.
Lewis is eligible to return to practice after six weeks and game action after eight weeks.
Though Suggs seemed optimistic based on Lewis' words in his post-practice speech, Harbaugh said the organization doesn't have a timetable yet for when Lewis could return.
"There's no way for us to know enough about how far along he is or how he's doing," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see how it goes, in all honesty."