Haloti Ngata Next To Win Defensive Player Of The Year?


The Ravens' reigning Defensive Player of the Year is injured.

But could Baltimore have another one in waiting?

Owner Steve Bisciotti suggested as much during a press conference last week.

"Maybe it's Haloti's time this year," Bisciotti said.

"Terrell [Suggs] is the third player that Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric [DeCosta] have drafted that has won Defensive Player of the Year, and we think we've got one in Haloti on the rise."

Linebacker Ray Lewis became the team's first to win the honor in 2000, and did it again in 2003. Safety Ed Reed earned it in 2004. Suggs added to the mantle last year.

Ngata is clearly one of the league's best at his position, as he was named to his third straight Pro Bowl last year. Only New England's Vince Wilfork and San Francisco's Justin Smith have also reached the NFL's all-star game the past three years at that position.

Now Ngata's trying to reach the next level.

"That would be cool," Ngata said. "I think it would be awesome to be Defensive Player of the Year because I think that would help our team get to a Super Bowl. If it happens it happens. But that's not something I'm thinking about. I just want to help our team win."

Asked what would help him win, Ngata said less competition from those in purple and black.

"[To] not have Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and all those guys on that team," he said with a laugh. "We have too many stars."

In order to be considered at the pinnacle of defensive players, Ngata may have to improve his sack numbers and flash plays.

It's been 12 years since a defensive tackle won*Defensive Player of the Year, as the honor has *more frequently gone to sack artists or safeties. In the first 28 years of the award, a defensive tackle was honored seven times.

The last defensive tackle to be named Defensive Player of the Year was Warren Sapp in 1999, when he recorded 12.5 sacks.

Ngata's statistics last year were similar to those in 2010. He recorded 64 total tackles in 2011 and 63 in 2010. He had five sacks in 2011 and 5.5 in 2010.

Ngata's numbers trailed off near the end of last season. He didn't record a sack after Week 12 and notched just three tackles in each playoff game.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said Ngata had a deep thigh bruise during that stretch, and the defensive tackle said his experiment of trimming 10 pounds last year didn't pay off.

"I just didn't feel as powerful as I usually feel. I didn't feel as strong," he said.

Ngata is currently 345 pounds, and said he wants to stay between that weight and 340 pounds. He feels it will help him push the pocket better.

One impediment could be seeing more attention from opposing offenses with Suggs out for some games. Ngata often draws double teams.

"If they pay more attention to me, it opens it up for other guys," he said."

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