Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who is expected to miss the remainder of the year with a torn triceps, could return later this season, Yahoo! Sports reported Monday.
Lewis was placed on injured reserve in mid-October after he sustained the injury against the Dallas Cowboys, but with the designated-for-return label. That means he could be back on the field playing at some point this season.
The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been rehabilitating away from the Ravens' training complex and following his surgeon's advice as far as his recovery plan.
More than six sources told Yahoo! Sports that Lewis could be back as early as Dec. 16 against the Denver Broncos.
"At the end of the day, you're gonna see Ray Lewis again," linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said. "For the greatest player in Ravens history to be able to return from this injury and come on this championship run with us? When he was said to be down and out? Man, that's critical mass. When he comes through that tunnel, that's gonna be the earthquake and the tsunami."
Lewis gave an inspiring speech to his teammates before Sunday's 16-13 victory over the San Diego Chargers that extended Baltimore's lead in the AFC North to three games at 9-2.
Lewis, who attended the game and cheered from the sidelines, would not confirm his plans to return.
"You've got eyes," he said. "What do you expect to happen? I'm here to support my team."
A source close to Lewis told Yahoo! Sports that Lewis, 37, has aggressively treated his triceps injury with a variation of the platelet-rich plasma therapy that helped former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward return from a knee sprain to play in Super Bowl XLIII.
Lewis could return to practice Thursday, according to the source. That is the day he is eligible to return from the IR.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome would not rule out Lewis coming back this season.
"We'll see in another couple of weeks," he said. "Stay tuned."
Coach John Harbaugh said Lewis returning this season is a possibility.
"We can't put Ray out there until he's ready to win those battles," he said. "But if it can be done, yes, we want to do it."
Linebacker Terrell Suggs also believes Lewis can return this year. Suggs made a quicker-than-usual recovery from a torn Achilles tendon a month ago. His return came less than six months after surgery, but he was expected to be out a year.
"When I got hurt I asked the doctors, 'How long do I have to sit out?' " Suggs said. "They said, 'Well, the earliest most people come back from this is nine months, but it's usually a year.' I just chose not to accept that. I had to get back. We came so close last year. We're on the brink of something big. I didn't want to leave the job undone."