Gaither's back 'feeling great'; OT eyes return to lineup

Agent Drew Rosenhaus says his client Jared Gaither, the hulking 6-foot-9, 340-pound offensive tackle who missed all last season for the Baltimore Ravens with an upper back injury, has made a full recovery.

"Jared Gaither's back is totally healed," Rosenhaus tweeted Saturday. "He's had a great offseason and will have a bounce back yr. He's back to full strength & ready to go."

"Basically, I'm cleared," Gaither confirmed to the Carroll County Times. "I just have to be cleared by the ballclub and take that physical. I'm doing a lot better. I'm feeling great. I can't wait for next season."

Despite Gaither's rehabilitation, his status with the team is in limbo after spending most of last season on injured reserve -- and the lingering NFL lockout only muddies those waters.

Under last year's rules, Gaither stands as a restricted free agent. Under a new collective bargaining agreement, the four-year veteran could be an unrestricted free agent, in which case the team is unlikely to furnish him a lucrative contract with injury red flags waving, the Times reported.

"I have no control over that, and I just hope everything gets worked out," Gaither told the Times after last season, saying he's leaving his contract status for Rosenhaus to figure out. "However that works out, if they do tender me or don't, there's not that much I can do about that. I'm prepared for anything. You just don't know what's going to happen."

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is taking a wait-and-see approach to Gaither's future, noting that as a restricted free agent, Gaither would remain part of the team and "if he's healthy, he'd get a chance to come back and start."

Gaither's started 28 games for the Ravens since being selected in the fifth round 2007 NFL Supplemental Draft, most all of them at left tackle, where he's comfortable playing. Despite the emergence of Michael Oher at that position, Gaither told the Times it matters to him to stick in the spot that feels like home.

"Yeah, it does," Gaither said. "I've been playing left tackle my whole career. It wouldn't make much sense to change now and get a whole new position underway at this point in time."

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