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Byrne Identity: Why Ozzie Newsome Bet On Ray Lewis Returning This Season


Ozzie Talks About Ray Lewis Coming Back

"When you're dealing with an injury like this, one of the things you research is the length of time to come back. We look for the best case, the worst case and the average. That's the first thing we look at from a football point of view," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said yesterday in talking about Ray Lewis' torn triceps. 

"Once we got those estimations, we looked at the calendar and started thinking: 'If there is any athlete in the world who could come back from this in the shortest time, it would be Ray,'" Newsome explained.

"I talked with John (Harbaugh), Steve (Bisciotti) – and Steve was very involved and instrumental in this decision – and, of course, Ray. While I was doing my research with Dr. (Leigh Ann) Curl (team doctor), Ray was doing his homework and his research. I told Ray we were thinking about giving him the 'designation to return' tag, and he said he was just going to call me and suggest that he thought he could be back by the end of the season," Newsome said. 

The "designation to return" is new to the NFL this year. It allows teams to commit one player per season to injured reserve who is allowed to return to the active roster after at least six weeks on injured reserve. "When we were talking about whether to do this with Ray, I mentioned to Steve and John that we could save this for another player. But, I also said that some basketball coaches save their timeouts and then don't use them. Steve said, 'Don't save the timeout.'" 

Then Ozzie talked about Ray: "They say it's a slow-healing injury, but that the person could begin rehab three weeks after the surgery. Then you put Ray into the equation. He will attack this like he attacks everything else. Is there anyone who could bring more energy, more motivation, more work to come back? Because it's Ray, we're willing to take this chance. We all know he is special, and he's already chomping at the bit to get going, and he just had surgery yesterday (Wednesday.) If we were going to bet on one player coming back, we were betting on Ray Lewis." 

Harbs Reveals Thoughts During Win Over Dallas

Don't know about you, but my heart was pounding in the final minutes of last Sunday's 31-29 victory over the Cowboys. I'll also admit I didn't like playing the Cowboys after they came off their bye weekend. They were rested, talented, and they were looking for redemption after losing to the Bears on national television prior to their break. All of this made me nervous. 

If I felt this way, I wondered what Coach Harbaugh was feeling … I asked him to reflect on what he remembered from various parts of the game, and here are his recollections: 

  • On the injury to Lardarius Webb: "It happened right in front of me, and looking into Lardarius' face, I thought, 'This could be serious.' My first reaction was to pray, and I did so with Bernard Pollard next to me. Next, I thought about Jimmy Smith stepping up and the adjustments we'd have to make with one defensive back down."
  • On taking a 24-13 lead in third quarter: "I looked over at Ray Lewis, who was standing next to me, and said, 'We can take control of this game if we can get a three-and-out.' We didn't get that done, and they came back with a long touchdown drive."
  • On the injury to Ray Lewis late in the game: "We had an eight-point lead (31-23), and I liked the way we had come back after they got within one (24-23) in the fourth quarter. I knew Ray was hurting before he came out. He didn't say anything to anyone, and he probably played seven, eight, nine plays before he came out. Shows you what a warrior he is. But, my mind went to, 'We have package issues now.' We had lost a couple of guys. Our time was spent figuring out who was going to be out there and what schemes we could use, including what blitz packages. I saw Ray working with Dr. Curl and our trainers out of the corner of my eye, but, at that time, I didn't know how serious the injury was."
  • On the Cowboys' two-point conversion: "You hope they don't make it, but you have to start making plans to win the game in the last minute. We had two timeouts left, and we discussed how we'd manage the clock. I wasn't worried about how Cam (Cameron), the offensive staff and Joe (Flacco) would handle the play calling. We have worked on these end-of-game situations a lot. You have to know what the yard line is for the longest game-winning field goal."
  • On the onside kick: "We work on this so much that I was confident that we'd come up with the ball. When we didn't, that might have been the first time I said to myself, 'Wow!'"
  • On the pass interference call on Chykie Brown (that gave Dallas the ball on the Ravens' 34): "I might have said some things that would not equate to 'Wow.' That was a surprising call in that situation."
  • On the Cowboys' game-winning field goal attempt: "When Dallas deferred to us at the coin flip (before the game), we talked about which way we wanted to be kicking a field goal in the fourth quarter. So, I was a little comforted that they were kicking into the end with the most wind. It was blowing, and it was a crosswind. When the kicked was missed, I thought, 'Man, that was hard fought. Our guys found a way.'"
  • On addressing the team after the game: "I wanted to congratulate the players and coaches for getting the win. I reminded them that it's hard to win in the NFL, but that we keep finding ways. You kind of let it flow from your heart and gut. I also knew I wanted to go see Lardarius and Ray right away."

Pollard Puts It Bluntly

Please excuse the language.

About a month ago, I read a story about Urban Meyer and Ohio State. Urban was quoted as saying: "We are a pissed off team, and those are the best ones to coach. They (the players) respond." (And, I agree with Coach Meyer. Teams that I would describe as "pissed off" usually have played well during my career.)

Which brings me to Sunday's game at Houston. It's going to be hard to beat them. Look what we've done to the Texans the last three times we played: knocked them out of the playoffs last January, stopped them a year ago at this time when they were being hailed as the next great thing, and we beat them in overtime at their place on Dec. 13, 2010. They are angry and motivated.  They can't let us beat them at their place on Sunday.

It's a tough situation. But, I love what Bernard Pollard said Wednesday: "We should be pissed off, and we are pissed off. We have to play smart in Houston, but pissed off."

Let's go beat the Texans. Talk with you next week.


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