Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis shake hands and exchange jerseys… (Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports )
NEW ORLEANS — Walking around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with just a trace of a limp, Lardarius Webb paused for a moment, took a long look around and smiled.
His thinking: What's the point of being bitter?
Out for the season since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee back in October, the cornerback is contributing to the Ravens' Super Bowl run the only way he can.
Planning to root for his teammates and offer scouting tips Sunday night, Webb has his fingers crossed that the team's veterans get to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"Yeah, man, it's bigger than me," said Webb, who underwent surgery and expects to make a strong return next season. "This is for the guys like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco. They need it more. I'll be back. I'm just happy to be a part of this right now.
"Flacco needs this game to be elite, at least for people to give him his respect. He can shut a lot of people up. He deserves a championship. Terrell Suggs has been here a long time. It's time for them to get a ring."
Should the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, they'll all get rings.
That includes Webb, who was signed to a $50 million contract before last season, and the dozen other players who are on injured reserve and unable to play in the big game: inside linebacker Jameel McClain (spinal cord contusion), offensive guard Jah Reid (toe), former Maryland and Poly wide receiver LaQuan Williams (hamstring), safety Christian Thompson (knee), wide receiver Tommy Streeter (foot), running back Bobby Rainey (knee), defensive end Ryan McBean (broken ankle), outside linebacker Michael McAdoo (Achilles), safety Anthony Levine (shoulder), safety Emanuel Cook (broken ankle), linebacker Ricky Brown (concussion) and running back Damien Berry (neck).
For key players like McClain, it's an especially bittersweet experience.
McClain would obviously want to line up next to Lewis in Lewis' final game before retirement, but the injury he suffered against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 9 rendered him unable to play going forward.
"Look at me and Lardarius, we're two people who would love being out there," said McClain, who made 79 tackles in 13 starts this season. "Unfortunately, that's not the cards we were dealt. We just have to enjoy it with our teammates."
McClain said he's no longer experiencing any pain, with his back and neck calming down since the injury.
He remains hopeful of returning next season but needs to take another magnetic resonance imaging exam to get cleared medically.
"Absolutely, that's the goal," said McClain, who signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract last spring. "It's a process. We're going to take another MRI. What we're focusing on is rest.
"Right now, we're just taking it slow and resting. The doctors talk about what they talk about, but the goal is to be playing next year. I love this game. I can't get away from it."
Neither can Reid, who trudged onto the field for Media Day on crutches and wearing a protective walking boot after undergoing surgery on his toe two weeks ago.
The 6-foot-7, 340-pound lineman started seven games at left guard before hurting his toe in the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.
That injury triggered a line shuffle, with Bryant McKinnie being inserted as the left tackle, rookie Kelechi Osemele taking over for Reid at left guard and Michael Oher moving from left tackle to right tackle. In Reid's absence, the line has performed well, allowing just four sacks in three playoff victories.
"It's tough, it's a bummer that I'm not playing, but just to be here is great," Reid said. "If we come up with a victory, it would be wonderful.
"All the guys on IR, all the guys on the practice squad that don't get to go out on the field but helped the team get here, if we get a victory, it's all well worth it. It would be great."
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