With playoff implications of Sunday’s game minimized, and only a small chance of moving up to the No. 3 seed within reach, the question this week in Baltimore has been whether (and who) the Ravens will rest.
On Friday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said the team has a plan. But he’s not sharing it.
“We have thoughts on it. We have a plan going in,” Harbaugh said, noting that it could change.
“We have a number of guys who are banged up a little bit, and some of those guys will play and some of those guys won’t. We will go in there to win the game. We will have 46 guys active, and it will be the 46 best guys that are available to us – like always – and we will go play.”
The Ravens want to go into the playoffs as healthy as possible, and that could mean sitting some players with nagging injuries or pulling other major contributors.
But with a 53-man roster that shrinks to 46 on gameday, they don’t have the option of benching all their starters to stay healthy. At the same time, the Ravens could opt to give some of their starters rest and their reserves extra time.
However, Harbaugh was clear that Sunday won’t feel like an exhibition game where starters are yanked by halftime or earlier.
“No, you can’t do that,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not possible to do that. You don’t have the numbers to do that, and this is a regular-season game. This is too important for that.”
Ngata, Yanda Don’t Practice
Their injuries don’t appear serious, however.
Ngata was hindered by knee and shoulder injuries earlier this season, but had been getting healthier after taking a game off against Oakland. He has performed better in recent weeks and recorded his fifth sack of the season against the Giants last week.
On Thursday, Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees indicated that he wouldn’t have any concern about Ngata’s status if he were to play this Sunday.
“He’s been banged up, seems like kind of all year here and there,” Pees said. “He’s getting some well-deserved rest.”
Yanda missed the Week 15 game against Denver, but returned to the field last week against the Giants and sat out just five snaps when the game was all but over.
Boldin Limited All Week
The only new injury the Ravens announced coming out of last week’s game was a shoulder bruise suffered by wide receiver
The veteran was limited in practice this week, and is listed as questionable. He could be another player who sees time off to make sure he’s totally healthy for the playoffs.
Lewis Probable But Won’t Play
That won’t be this week against the Bengals, however. Even though Lewis is listed as probable to play, Harbaugh ruled him out of action.
“We’ll look at him at the playoffs,” Harbaugh said last Sunday, and confirmed again Wednesday when Lewis was activated. “The fact that there was some patience on Ray’s part and our part, it turned out well.”
Other Questionable, Probable Ravens
It hasn’t knocked Leach out of a game yet, but he’s been in and out of practice. Leach was limited on Wednesday and Friday but did not practice Thursday.
The Ravens’ other probable players are: linebacker
Bengals Rule Out Kicker Nugent
The Bengals will be without starting kicker Mike Nugent (right calf) Sunday, meaning veteran backup Josh Brown will play in his fourth game. Brown has gone 8-for-9 since stepping in for Nugent.
A pair of cornerbacks, starter Terrence Newman (groin) and reserve Jason Allen (hamstring), are questionable. If Newman is out, the Bengals would likely turn to Adam “Pacman” Jones.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), cornerback Adam Jones (hamstring) and safety Reggie Nelson (shoulder) are all probable.