By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens remained relatively healthy at the beginning of the season. That changed when Baltimore lost Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season. These injuries have sent ripples throughout the depth chart. Ray Lewis was, for all intents and purposes, the only sure tackle in the lineup. And there isn’t a corner in the lineup close to being a shut down corner the way Webb proved to be the past few seasons. But with the bye week just about over, the Ravens have used this chance to get healthy and improve on the fundamentals.
One player that can use the extra week of rest is Haloti Ngata. He has been hampered by both an injury to his shoulder and a MCL sprain. The MCL sprain is by far the most serious. Ngata was unable to finish the game after trying to play through the pain. He won’t be close to 100% after the bye, but every little bit helps. Ngata can not afford to lose Ngata and will need to watch him closely in the coming weeks. If he can’t play, a poor run defense becomes a lot worse.
All-Pro safety Ed Reed is another player battling injury. After news of his torn labrum reached the public, the former Hurricane suffered a rib contusion in the blowout loss against the Texans. Reed has always dealt with nagging injuries, and this season will be no different. Similar to Ngata, the Ravens will have to limit Reed’s practice reps and snaps during games. Reed may be the only reliable player in the secondary. His health is crucial to the Ravens playoff hopes.
While Haloti Ngata and Reed could use the bye, there isn’t a player in the Ravens locker room that could use it more than Terrell Suggs. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year returned from a torn Achilles suffered in the offseason. Though his presence was extraordinary, it was clear he wasn’t 100%. Many thought Suggs would be more inclined to wait until the Week Ten game against the Raiders to debut. But all signs point to Suggs playing against Cleveland. With the added rest from the bye week, look for Suggs to make an impact next Sunday. The fact that Suggs can even play football is a surprise to everyone – including his teammates.
“What Terrell Suggs did is amazing,” said Jameel McClain on Tuesday. “It still baffles me to this day, to this moment.”
The team is better with Suggs in the lineup. And the players realize what that could mean for them in the long run.
“[Terrell] Suggs is a huge part of this team’s identity, especially the defense,” stated Paul Kruger. He’s a playmaker; he’s a leader out there. [He] brings a ton of experience, and I think we are all grateful to have him back. Those are the type of guys that create a lot of confidence and a lot of, I guess, you can kind of lean into him a little bit. Suggs has always been one of those guys. I think that’s going to help us a lot.”
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.