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Ravens news, notes and opinions
The Ravens don’t use injuries as an excuse, and nor should their fans. However, it is pretty amazing to look at how hard their defense has been hit this season. It’s hardly the only reason, but it has to be considered when discussing why what is normally one of the top-ranked defenses in the NFL has fallen on such hard times. Only four defensive players– linebacker Jameel McClain, cornerback Cary Williams and safeties Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed – have started all 12 games this season, and Pollard missed the final three quarters of the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and was slowed for multiple weeks with a chest injury, while Reed has a torn labrum in his shoulder. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been sidelined for one game but persistent shoulder and knee injuries have made him look ordinary at times. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis will miss his sixth straight game Sunday with a torn triceps. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs sat the first six games, returned even though he was nowhere near full strength and then tore his right biceps, leaving his status in doubt the rest of the way. Top cornerback Lardarius Webb tore his ACL in Week Six and is done for the year, and his replacement, Jimmy Smith, has missed four straight games and could sit a few more after having hernia surgery. Starting defensive end Pernell McPhee sat four games because of a hamstring injury and has never looked comfortable following two different knee procedures. Linebacker Paul Kruger and nose tackles Terrence Cody and Ma’ake Kemoeatu each missed a game with injuries. Lewis’ replacement, Dannell Ellerbe, couldn’t post last Sunday with a foot/ankle injury and he had been playing for several weeks with one sprained thumb and one broken one. Rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw has had a bad shoulder all year that seemingly once a game forces him to the sidelines. You could also bring up safety Emanuel Cook and defensive tackle Ryan McBean, two players who were expected to occupy reserve roles but sustained season-ending injuries in training camp. Again, every team in the NFL deals with injuries and some – the Pittsburgh Steelers come to mind – probably have had it worse than the Ravens. It’s just odd to see the Ravens’ health issues confined to the defensive side of the ball.
By Jeff Zrebiec
December 5, 2012