Despite an encouraging week of practice and a desire to return, Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis won't play Sunday against the New York Giants.
Lewis, who hasn't played since Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys because of a torn right triceps, was not activated before Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline, making him ineligible to face the reigning Super Bowl champions. It will be the ninth straight game Lewis has missed.
The 37-year-old has practiced the past three weeks, and several team sources indicated Thursday that they were hopeful Lewis would return against the Giants. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday that Lewis is "coming along" and defensive coordinator Dean Pees said a day earlier that Lewis looked like himself.
However, Lewis, whose right arm has atrophied after having surgery on Oct. 17, apparently hasn't done enough to convince the team's medical and coaching staff that he is ready to play. Lewis is also not expected to return for next weekend's regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, though team officials haven't ruled out the 13-time Pro Bowl selection's return for the playoffs.
If the Ravens win one of their final two regular-season games, they'll successfully defend their AFC North title and host a playoff game in two weeks. If they lose out and either the Bengals or Pittsburgh Steelers win their final two games, the Ravens will open the playoffs on the road as a wild-card team.
For Lewis to be eligible for the playoffs, the Ravens will have to activate him from the injured reserve with a designation to return list by Wednesday. Per league rules, players on that list can only practice for a period not exceeding 21 days before they either have to be activated to the 53-man roster or revert back to season-ending injured reserve. Lewis has been practicing since Dec. 5.
Lewis has not spoken to reporters since he was injured, so it's not known how the injury will affect his postseason plans on whether to return for an 18th season or retire.
Rather than activating Lewis, the Ravens promoted outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton from the practice squad and moved inside linebacker Jameel McClain to injured reserve with a spinal cord contusion. Hamilton, who is 6 feet 3 and 257 pounds, was signed to the Ravens' practice squad after he was cut by the Dallas Cowboys during their final roster cutdown prior to the regular season.
At Prairie View A&M last year, Hamilton broke Indianapolis Colts' defensive end Robert Mathis' Southwestern Athletic Conference single-season record with 20 1/2 sacks.
Still, Lewis' absence leaves the Ravens thin at inside linebacker. With Lewis, McClain and Dannell Ellerbe all out last week, the Ravens gave undrafted free agent Josh Bynes his first career start in a 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Veteran Brendon Ayanbadejo, known primarily for his work on special teams, also started at weak-side linebacker.
Ellerbe, who has missed three straight games with a sprained right ankle, is questionable and considered a game-time decision Sunday.
In other injury news, backup running back Bernard Pierce passed his baseline concussion test today, putting him in line to play Sunday if the Ravens allow it. There is also optimism that wide receiver Torrey Smith, who also sustained a concussion last week, will be active against the Giants.
Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson contributed to this article.