Ravens can't dwell on defensive injuries

It's next man up for Baltimore after Lewis, Webb go down

October 17, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

As the Ravens move on from the devastating injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, they'd do well to heed the words of that eminent philosopher, Buck Showalter.

"People don't care about your problems," the Orioles manager is fond of saying. "And most are happy you got 'em."

Exactly. And that's especially true in the cut-throat world of the NFL.

Your Canton-bound inside linebacker is out for the season with a torn triceps?

Tough, says the rest of the league.

Your best cover-corner and tackler is done for the year with a torn ACL?

Gee, that's really a shame, say the other 31 teams.

And you're still without Terrell Suggs, the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year?

Boy, that's really too bad. (Snicker, snicker.)

That's the harsh reality that faced the Ravens on Wednesday as they prepared to play the Houston Texans (5-1) this weekend at Reliant Stadium.

Three of their top defensive players are down. But there was no black bunting draped from the Under Armour Performance Center when the team reported for practice. The players weren't moping around in meetings. The coaches weren't retreating to their office to pop tranquilizers behind closed blinds.

The shock of losing Lewis and Webb had dissipated. Now it was time to move on.

"Yeah, we've always said that," John Harbaugh said when told of Showalter's quote. "You can complain all you want, but nobody cares. Nobody's gonna feel sorry for you. You know the old saying: 'When one door closes, another door opens.' We've all heard that since we were kids. And that's true. It's gonna be fun to see which guys step up. We've got some guys who we're excited to see step up."

Suggs won't be one of them, though. Not for a while. Not even with the announcement that his partially-torn Achilles had healed enough for him to start practicing again Wednesday.

Sure, the guy's only 30 and a world-class athlete. But he isn't Superman. There's no telling when he'll play in a real game again. You don't come back from a horrific injury like that and on Day 1 of practice say: "I should be good to go by next week."

Suggs begged off talking to the media, saying he'd talk Thursday, which made perfect sense. What was he going to say? He needs to see what the ankle can do, needs to get back in football shape, needs to hit in practice and get hit before he has a sense of when he'll be back.

Lewis won't be back anytime soon, either. The Ravens put him on injured reserve, designated to return this season, but that's a pipe dream. You have a better chance seeing me at inside linebacker this season.

No, what the Ravens need to do now is forget about Lewis and Webb and Suggs and suck it up and find a way to beat the Texans.

They need to find a way to stop the run after caving for 214 yards to the Kansas City Chiefs and 227 to the Dallas Cowboys in back-to-back weeks.

Jimmy Smith's in for Webb? Jameel McClain takes over at inside linebacker for Lewis? Dannell Ellerbe's the next man up at weakside linebacker?

Fine. Now find a way to plug the holes and stop Houston running back Arian Foster from turning into Barry Sanders on Sunday.

Make some tackles this week, too, instead of that pathetic air-grabbing stuff we saw last Sunday. And get some kind of pass rush on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub for a change.

Is all that too much to ask with Lewis and Webb and Suggs down? Maybe. But the Ravens offense has done its part in the first six games, if you throw out that horror show in the 9-6 win over the Chiefs.

Time for the defense to step up — even without the Big Three.

"This is the game," safety Bernard Pollard said Wednesday. "Injuries are gonna happen. We cannot help who they're gonna happen to. Guys are gonna get dinged up. Guys are gonna get banged up. Guys are gonna be lost for the season.

"It just so happened we lost two great players on Sunday," he continued. "Next man up. It's been like that all year. We've been playing with a lot of [different] guys. I continue to tell people we are jelling as a defense. But I think it's to the point now where we have to take a stand. Two weeks in a row, 200 freaking yards. We gotta ... walk out there with pride. We gotta play [ticked] off. It's a must."

He's dead on about that.

No one in the league feels sorry for the Ravens. They better not feel sorry for themselves, either.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kevincowherdsun

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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