Getting Haloti Ngata healthy is No. 1 priority for Ravens

Baltimore needs defensive tackle to be 100 percent for second half of season

October 29, 2012|Mike Preston

The most important thing for the Ravens as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday is to get Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata healthy.

Without Ngata, the second half of the Ravens' 2012 season could go south in a hurry.

The Ravens are already without cornerback Lardarius Webb and inside linebacker Ray Lewis. Both are expected to miss the season with injuries, and they were two of the team's top tacklers.

Ngata might be the best tackle in the NFL, but played the past three games with an MCL sprain and shoulder injury. He started all three games, but missed some playing time because of the injuries.

In two of those three games, the Ravens allowed more than 200 yards rushing and 181 in the third game against Houston.

The Browns like to pound the ball with rookie running back Trent Richardson. The Ravens also still have two games remaining against Pittsburgh, and the Steelers seemed to have rejuvenated their running game with Jonathan Dwyer and left guard Willie Colon.

The Ravens also have to play Washington, which has the No. 2 running game in the league, as well as the New York Giants (No. 12) and the Denver Broncos (No. 14).

Without a healthy Ngata, the Ravens have little chance for success, especially with tackles Arthur Jones, Terrence Cody and Ma'akeKemoeatu underperforming this season.

Learning from the Steelers

I hope some members of the Ravens' offensive coaching staff watched the Steelers beat up on the Redskins, 27-12, Sunday.

Pittsburgh ran a great short passing offense using a lot of bunch formations and rubs.

With a questionable offensive line, the short passing game reduced the number of hits taken by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and also allowed some of his receivers to make plays out of short gains.

Maybe the Ravens can put some of that stuff in their playbook.

One thing they don't need to copy were the hideous throwback uniforms worn by the Steelers. I couldn't tell if they had just escaped from prison or if Ronald McDonald had just formed his own football team.

Dubious recognition for Lewis

From a poll taken from players, Sports Illustrated determined that Lewis was the fifth-most overrated player in the NFL. Lewis shouldn't have been on the list.

Lewis is a victim of his own success. He set a standard so high that no linebacker may ever play at that level again — especially Lewis, in his 17th season.

Some of those players on the list, particularly No. 1 selection Tim Tebow, will never come close to Lewis' level, not even where he is now.

Much ado about injury nonsense

The Ravens were recently fined $20,000 by the NFL for not putting safety Ed Reed on the injury list for a torn labrum.

Maybe now coach John Harbaugh will stop playing games with the injuries. A lot of coaches do the same thing, but it really doesn't help.

The Ravens wouldn't reveal anything about Terrell Suggs playing against Houston a little more than a week ago, but the Pro Bowl linebacker-defensive end played.

The ploy caught the Texans off guard and worked so well that Houston only beat the Ravens, 43-13.

More time for Pierce?

If the Ravens are concerned about using running back Ray Rice too much this early in the season, they should get rookie Bernard Pierce more playing time.

He is big, runs down hill and could take some of the pounding for Rice and some of the pressure off quarterback Joe Flacco.

Temper, temper

There is an assumption that Ravens safety Bernard Pollard will get fined soon for bumping an official during a debate over a call in the Houston game.

I assume it will be a healthy amount, but not as high as the one that will be levied at Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall following his profanity-laced tirade with an official Sunday.

Hall not only should be fined, but suspended for at least two games.

As for Pollard, the Ravens need him to work on that temper. He's had several outbursts this season. It's called anger management.

In an earlier version of this article, a stat on where the Ravens' run defense ranks in the NFL was incorrect. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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