Some good news for the Ravens ... maybe

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Some good news for the Ravens ... maybe

From Comcast SportsNetOWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens haven't completely abandoned hope of having Ray Lewis back in uniform this season.Lewis tore his right triceps in Sunday's game against Dallas and was scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday. Although coach John Harbaugh said Monday that the 37-year-old linebacker is out for the year, the Ravens placed Lewis on injured reserve with the "designated to return" tag.Wednesday's move makes Lewis eligible to return in six weeks. He does notcountagainst the 53-man roster."We have no idea whether that time frame has anything to do with the injury, but there's an opportunity and we're going to keep the door open," Harbaugh said. "We'll just see where that goes moving forward."The loss of Lewis coincides with the return of linebacker Terrell Suggs, the 2011 NFL defensive player of the year. Suggs practiced Wednesday for the first time this season aftermissingmonths with a torn right Achilles tendon.Suggs is still favoring his right leg, so the Ravens aren't expecting much from him too soon."To what extent, to what he's able to do, I think we should temper our expectations a little bit," Harbaugh said. "He's coming off a very serious injury. I think he's worked really hard. He's done a great job withthe rehab, he's followed protocol. He had no setbacks throughout the course of the whole deal."To fill the void left by Lewis' removal from the roster, the Ravens activated linebacker Josh Bynes from their practice squad.Lewis leads the Ravens in tackles and is the unquestioned leader not only of the defense, but of the entire team.Asked who might assume the leadership role, Harbaugh replied, "You replace that with 53 guys. ... Ray is still with us. He'll be around and be a part of what we're doing."

Report: Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

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Report: Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

FOXBORO -- Alan Branch knew he had a good case, otherwise he wouldn't have appealed. It was just a question of when that appeal might be heard. 

As of Wednesday, the Patriots defensive tackle hadnt heard anything as it related to the appeal of his four-game suspension. But by Saturday morning, according to Field Yates of ESPN, Branch had won the appeal and been cleared of the league's ban. 

Word of Branch's punishment stemming from a positive marijuana test became public when reported by ESPN on Nov. 21. Per the league's substance abuse policy, appeal hearings are typically scheduled for the fourth Tuesday after a player has been informed of his penalty. The policy notes that it is possible for appeals to be heard on another date should the two sides be able to work out different schedule, but Branch was not optimistic that would be the case earlier this week. 

Good news came quickly, apparently. 

Had Branch been forced to miss any time, it would have docked the Patriots arguably their top interior defensive lineman. Branch has started every game, and he leads all Patriots defensive tackles with 457 snaps played. 

The Patriots recently waived running back DJ Foster and signed defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, seemingly as a way to build some depth on the roster behind Branch if Branch had been suspended. 

By having his four-game suspension wiped away not only are the Patriots saved from having to deal without one of their top players in the trenches, but Branch saved himself a relatively hefty financial penalty.

A four-game ban would have cost him nearly $300,000 in base salary as well as four game-day bonuses adding to $100,000. And he stood to lose as much as $750,000 in season-long playing-time incentives. In all, had the suspension stood, it could have cost him about $1.1 million. Patriots salary-cap expert Miguel Benzan goes into more detail about the potential financial impact of Branch's suspension here

Thankfully for Branch, he doesn't have to worry about that any longer. With this situation in the rear view, he can focus on helping the Patriots win games during the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.