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If The Ravens Can Get Healthy …

Posted Dec 20, 2012

Baltimore’s defense is gritting it now, but could earn some rest if it can beat the Giants.

As soon as Terrell Suggs was set to return from his Achilles injury, Ray Lewis went down.

As soon as Lewis was eligible to return, Suggs suffered a biceps injury.

It’s just one example of how Baltimore (particularly on defense) hasn’t been able to put together its full complement of pieces and show just what kind of team it can be.

Head Coach John Harbaugh stressed two things to his team Monday, trying to motivate it after suffering a third straight loss.

“We need to get healthy and we need to get better,” Harbaugh said. “If we can do those two things, we give ourselves a chance.”

The Ravens’ health has been a major factor.

Only two Week 1 starters on Baltimore’s defense haven’t missed a game: safety Ed Reed, who has been nursing a shoulder injury all year, and cornerback Cary Williams, who had offseason hip surgery.

Linebacker Jameel McClain is the latest to go down, as he’s done for the year with a spinal cord contusion.

But there’s a feeling around the locker room that if Baltimore can just heal up, then the defense could come together and the Ravens could not only stop their losing skid, but make a run in the playoffs.

“If we get our defenders back, the better we’ll be,” said linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who has dealt with broken thumbs, a hamstring and now an ankle injury.

“I think we could make a run deep into the playoffs or the Super Bowl.”

“If we get those guys that are injured back, that would be crucial and essential to our success,” Williams added. “But we have to make the best of what we have. The NFL isn’t going to stop.”

Multiple players are playing through injuries, trying to get Baltimore into the best playoff position. They’ve secured a spot in the postseason, but one more win would give Baltimore the AFC North title and ensure a coveted home game.

Williams admitted it would be especially nice to get that victory Sunday against the New York Giants. That would all but lock Baltimore into the No. 4 playoff seed and perhaps allow the Ravens to rest some ailing players in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals to get healthy for the playoffs.

Suggs is playing through a torn biceps muscle, Ngata has worked through a shoulder injury, Ellerbe wore casts on both hands, safety Bernard Pollard has been dealing with sore ribs since Week 2 in Philadelphia and didn’t suit up last week against Denver.

“My body finally said ‘shut up and sit down,’ so I had to do it,” Pollard said. “I don’t complain, man. I’m just going to go play some ball. I’m going to do everything I can to be out there with my boys.”

All the defensive players, with the exception of cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and McClain, could return by the end of the season. And if so, the unit would look drastically different.

That is giving the Ravens hope. But they aren’t counting on it yet.

“We can talk until we’re blue in the face about next man up,” Williams said. “But it’s about us going out there and getting the job done. It’s about us coming together defensively regardless of who’s out there.”

“At some point in time, everybody is going to be back,” Pollard added. “But we’re in this in-between area right now that we have to battle in.”

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