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Digging Right In

The Ravens' Haloti Ngata Has A Craving For Ball Carriers And Making Himself The Nfl's Best Defensive Tackle

September 06, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

"I might be biased, but he's No. 1 in my book," Grubbs said. "You have to bring your 'A' game every game. He has everything that a good Pro Bowl defensive lineman has to have."

Ngata refuses to complain. He just rolls up his sleeves once again.

"I have to work harder and play harder and make more plays to make people out there believe that I deserve to be in the Pro Bowl," he said. "It's pushing me harder and harder to make plays."

Ngata appears on the verge of breaking out with the national media. Sports Illustrated recently noted that Ngata has a chance to be the best defensive tackle in the NFL.

Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for the Ravens and Browns who evaluates the NFL on his Web site, movethesticks.com, said Ngata deserves to be mentioned among the likes of Haynesworth and Rogers. After seeing Ngata receive increased chances to rush the passer in the preseason, Jeremiah predicted the Ravens lineman would be this year's Defensive Player of the Year.

"He is going to have six or seven sacks on one of the top defenses in the league," Jeremiah said. "And Haloti hasn't even become what he is going to be. He's still getting better."

Hard to believe

Few defensive linemen can match Ngata's athleticism or versatility.

In his first game, the 2006 season opener, Ngata returned an interception 60 yards at Tampa Bay only to come up 9 yards short of the goal line. In the second preseason game this year, he returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.

Besides those achievements, Ngata lined up as a linebacker, offensive lineman and fullback last season. "Hopefully, I can get the ball on offense this year," Ngata said.

When the Ravens watch film of Ngata, the coaches sometimes shake their heads in disbelief.

"Some of the things he does athletically freak you out," defensive line coach Clarence Brooks said. "That's God-given. But that's not the only thing that carries him. He works at it."

If the Ravens have learned anything about Ngata - whether it's playing the Pittsburgh Steelers or studying for a sociology class - he will not get outworked.

"I feel like I have a lot to learn," Ngata said. "I feel like if I'm always thinking that way, I'll push myself to the limits to get better and better."

Season opener


Sept. 13, 1 p.m.

* TV: Ch. 13

* Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM

Ravens roster: Who got cut?

The Ravens released five wide receivers, including Justin Harper and Yamon Figurs, kicker Graham Gano, linebacker Tony Fein and 2009 draft picks Davon Drew and Cedric Peerman. They traded defensive back Derrick Martin to the Packers for an offensive lineman. PG 3

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