Brad Bergesen continued his running program yesterday, the third time he's picked up the pace without having any issues with his leg.
Bergesen told me that he starts with a five-minute walk, then a five-minute run, then a five-minute power walk.
"It all felt good," he said. "I've been doing my core training for three weeks now, going into a fourth. Everything's good. I still feel (the leg) a little, but I'm able to do everything. It's not like it's painful or anything."
Asked if he's concerned that he still "feels it a little," Bergesen replied: "Not at all. I say 'feel it,' but I think it's more or less just getting adjusted again. I've been lifting and training, but nothing is as hard impact-wise as running. I think it's just aches and pains from starting up again.
Team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens told Bergesen right away that a hairline fracture can go undetected in tests.
"My personal opinion is there had to have been one," Bergesen said. "I've had bone bruises and injuries before, but this thing, there's no way I could push through it."
So he'll be ready for spring training?
"Absolutely," he said. "Here we are, late November, and I'm running with no problems for five minutes at a pretty decent pace, so I don't think I'll have any problem getting to 20 minutes by the end of December or early January.
"I've been doing all my other cardio - elliptical, swimming, biking, jumping rope. I think the plan is, if all goes well, to do this program for roughly two weeks, then we'll re-evaluate it. (Assistant athletic trainer) Brian Ebel has been writing up a program for me. We'll increase it to 10 minutes if all goes well for me. My personal goal is to run a full 20 minutes by the end of the year."
After that, we can start focusing on his pitching and forget about the leg.
"I can't wait to get back out there," he said.
Now for my weekly NFL rant:
The Giants (- 6 Ã‚Â½) were covering just about the entire game against the Falcons until giving up the tying touchdown with 28 seconds left. They won in overtime, which did me absolutely no good.
The Packers (-6 Ã‚Â½) were covering just about the entire game against the 49ers until giving up a late touchdown in the fourth quarter that reduced the margin to six points. They moved into Atlanta territory in the final two minutes and took a knee to run out the clock.
At least I was smart enough to take the Skins (+11) over the Cowboys, who might be changing coaches and quarterbacks after the season. And the Raiders (+9 Ã‚Â½) over the Bengals was a risky choice that paid off.
The line on that Colts-Ravens game seemed awfully strange, but Indy (-1) needed a late interception and another boneheaded decision from Ed Reed to stay undefeated.
So much for the blowout that most of us were anticipating. Don't question the experts in Vegas.
Every year, I rail about Reed's manic obsession with chucking the ball to teammates after interceptions. Yesterday, his attempted lateral on a punt return with 17 seconds left denied Joe Flacco a chance to move the Ravens into field goal range.
Granted, it would have been a longshot, but Flacco was picking up yardage through the air against the Colts secondary. Give him a chance.
Reed is a playmaker and one of the finest safeties I've seen, but he's a painfully slow learner.
The inability to punch it in from the 1-yard line, Haloti Ngata's personal foul penalty and coach John Harbaugh's carelessness with his timeouts also hurt. And rather than blame the officials for another questionable call against the Ravens, fans can vent about left tackle Jared Gaither's false start going unnoticed on Flacco's INT. That's one flag that would have been welcomed, since it would have stopped the play.