And the good news for the Ravens is that Ngata is as healthy as he’s ever been.
“I feel great,” Ngata said Thursday after the Ravens’ first training camp practice. “This is the best I’ve felt in the offseason. My knees feel great, shoulders – it’s just the best I’ve felt in the offseason, and I’ve been able to train a full offseason, so it’s great.”
In recent years, Ngata has used the offseason to recover from injuries that piled up during the season. Last year, he spent the entire offseason recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the Super Bowl. The knee problem hindered his ability to stay in shape during the offseason, and he admitted that it took him right up until training camp to get back to full strength.
Ngata didn’t have that problem this year, and he’s been training hard the last several months. Video from one of his impressive recent workouts even went viral online.
He had more time this offseason to get himself into peak condition.
“I’ve been able to train longer, so that’s the thing,” he said. “I trained faster [and am] just ready to get to playoffs. I started training like that at the end of January, February. That’s longer training, so that’s great.”
Ngata said that a focus of his offseason training was to get more lean and shed a little weight. He’s listed at 315 pounds, but still has the rare combination of strength and speed that allows him to shrug off blockers and wreak havoc in backfields.
At the end of last month’s minicamp, Ngata told reporters that he felt faster than he has in previous years.
The Ravens have high expectations for Ngata, who has been selected to five straight Pro Bowls. Last year he had 52 tackles and 1.5 sacks, and he’s already said that his goal is to register double-digit sacks this season for the first time in his career.
Ngata is the anchor of the defense, and having him at full strength should make a difference for the Ravens.
“It’s just a really exciting time,” Ngata said. “[I’m] really excited for our defense, how fast we’re looking. We have a lot of upside to our defense, so that’s great.”