Lewis Tells Ngata: 'I'll Be Back, Don't Worry'
We still have to hear from the horse's mouth on this topic – and Terrell Suggs reminded reporters how important that is yesterday – but it appears Ray Lewis told teammate Haloti Ngata that he plans on returning to football.
The two had a conversation Wednesday night, and here's what Ngata said of the exchange:
"I believe and he believes he will be back," Ngata told NFL Network's Melissa Stark, per USA Today. "Just knowing him, talking to him a day ago, (he was saying) 'I'll be back, don't worry.'"
Whether Lewis meant he was coming back this season, or for his 18th season in 2013, is unclear.
The 37 year old suffered what was originally characterized as a season-ending torn triceps muscle, but then the Ravens left the door open for Lewis to return this season by putting him on the injured reserve, designated for return list, meaning he could return by Dec. 12 at the earliest.
But triceps tears normally take at least four months to heal according to reports, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said it would be a long shot to see Lewis back on the field this season.
Anyone who knows Lewis also knows that if he sets his mind to something, he's likely to accomplish it. That's why Ngata wouldn't be surprised to see No. 52 continue his career.
"I don't know what other guys believe, but I definitely believe he will be back," said Ngata.
"Knowing the work ethic he has, he is going to work his butt off to get back on the field with us."
Week 7 Picks: Ravens vs. Texans
Peter King and Les Carpenter are the only two analysts below who haven't lost confidence in the Ravens. But there are many who have.
That's what two season-ending injuries and historically bad defensive performances will do. Add in the fact the Ravens are on the road against another 5-1 team, led by one of the league's best running backs in Arian Foster, and it appears everything is working against Baltimore.
**ESPN.com**: 12 of 12 pick Texans
**Yahoo! Sports**: 2 of 3 pick Texans
**The Baltimore Sun**: 7 of 7 pick Texans
Jeff Zrebiec: I didn't like the Ravens' chances in this one when Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb were healthy. The Ravens haven't stopped the run, pressured the quarterback or played well on the road.
**SportingNews.com**(Vinnie Iyer): Texans 30, Ravens 27
Arian Foster will see that the Ravens' run defense struggled last week, and now doesn't have Ray Lewis at the heart of it. Andre Johnson will see that the Ravens don't have their top cover corner, Lardarius Webb. Up front, a banged-up Haloti Ngata faces the Texans' athletic zone-blocking linemen. The Ravens will do their best to turn this into a shootout, where Ray Rice's quickness in open field and Joe Flacco's ability to make big passes downfield can give Houston some trouble. But as the Ravens try to pick up the pieces defensively, the Texans are a difficult first draw on the road.
**FoxSports.com**(Peter Schrager): Texans 31, Ravens 20
Baltimore hasn't played a complete game all season and still finds itself 5-1 and atop the AFC North by two games. That's a testament to Head coach John Harbaugh. On paper, the Ravens look fine. They're not. The Ravens got the best of T.J. Yates and the Texans a year ago in the playoffs, but I like the Texans at home in this one. Houston got embarrassed last week by the Packers on national TV and needs to get back on track. Arian Foster will have his way with the suddenly porous Ravens rush defense.
**CBSSports.com**(Pete Prisco): Texans 27, Ravens 13
This is the game of the week, matching two 5-1 teams. The Ravens come limping in with defensive injuries, while the Texans are coming off a horrible game against Green Bay. But I think Houston bounces back. The Ravens can't stop the run, and we know what happens when the Texans get that running game going.
**SI.com**(Peter King): Ravens 33, Texans 27
Game of the weekend. Maybe the game of the year. No Ray Lewis, no Lardarius Webb, only 70 percent of Haloti Ngata. Which means the Texans are going to score enough points to win. But watch Joe Flacco in this game. I think he'll be on fire, especially with Johnathan Joseph so suspect in the Houston secondary, and especially with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones burning up said Houston secondary. By the way, this just in: John Harbaugh can coach. He'll go above the .700 winning percentage with a win here; he's 49-21 in his 70 NFL regular season games.
**ProFootballTalk.com**(Mike Florio): Texans 27, Ravens 20
The Texans' pride is wounded. The Ravens are simply wounded. If Houston doesn't get things back on track quickly, a tailspin could be coming. They've got the rushing attack to get there — and the Ravens don't have the defense to stop them.
**ProFootballTalk.com**(Michael David Smith): Texans 24, Ravens 14
The only two teams with winning records in the AFC face off in a game that we might look back on in January as the game that decided home-field advantage in the playoffs. I think the team with home-field advantage takes this one, bouncing back from last week's ugly loss to the Packers.
Home-Field Advantage At Stake?
Is it possible that a Week 7 matchup could really have playoff implications?
The Ravens wouldn't go there this week, but ESPN's Jamison Hensley could see the winner of the Ravens-Texans showdown earning the tiebreaker for home-field advantage or a first-round bye at the end of the season. With the NFL's best home record (14 consecutive wins at M&T Bank Stadium), Hensley says the Ravens don't want to find themselves on the road in the postseason, assuming they advance.
"I know there are going to be nine games after this one, but this is shaping up to be the Ravens' most important game of the regular season," Hensley wrote. "The Ravens' mindset is that they won't have to come back to Houston this year if they win there Sunday."
Houston and Baltimore are the only two teams in the AFC with winning records, and the victor will have the conference's best record at 6-1.
For the Texans, Paul Kuharsky says they need the win to validate their 5-1 record, which features wins over "mostly softies" and then getting thumped by the Green Bay Packers last week.
"A loss would create some serious concerns [in Houston]," Kuharsky wrote. "They do have the cushion of playing in a terrible division they simply can't lose. But Baltimore has been an obstacle and ended the Texans' last season in the playoffs. If they meet again with such high stakes, they don't want to be traveling."
Flacco Losing Faith In Defense?
After listening to Flacco while he was mic'd up in the Ravens' 31-29 win over the Cowboys, USA Today's Chris Chase wonders if the Ravens quarterback is losing faith in his defense.
After the game, Flacco shared with reporters his mindset when Dallas was driving for a potential game-tying score. And now viewers can witness it first hand in the Sound FX video below.
On the sideline, Flacco made comments to offensive teammates that Chase says indicated he had little faith the defense would stop the charging Cowboys from scoring a touchdown.
"They should just put [the ball] on the 2-yard line and go for the two-point conversion because that's what it's going to come down to," Flacco said to tight end Dennis Pitta.
Chase's co-worker, Jim Corbett, asked about the sound bite yesterday and Flacco explained where he was coming from.
"You watch games on TV and you look at the history of things, that's usually what happens in those games," Flacco said. "That was kind of the thought I had at that point. … They had a good offense and they were playing well and it was just the rhythm of the game.''
Harewood Disappointed About Benching
Left guard Ramon Harewood admitted that he was disappointed about being benched in favor of veteran Bobbie Williams Sunday.
"I guess you could call it disappointment because you would want to play," Harewood told The Baltimore Sun. "I wouldn't say it goes past anything else."
The third-year offensive lineman surprisingly won the job for the first five games of the season, allowing 12 quarterback pressures, a quarterback hit and a sack during those contests. He had no penalties.
Harbaugh explained Sunday the reason for making the change, saying a big part was Williams' improved health after struggling with swelling in the ankle that underwent surgery in the offseason.
"I want to get better every day," Harewood said. "It's not much else I can do. As far as my reaction, I'm just one man on this team. There's 52 others. I just do the best on my part that I can moving forward."
Even If He Begs, Don't Let Suggs Play
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs did little to clear up the conflicting reports about whether he will play for the first time Sunday since tearing his Achilles tendon in April.
When asked about the possibility, Suggs didn't provide clarity by saying, "I may or may not be out there."
There's no doubt that Suggs would like to be on that field in Houston. He's passionate and worked hard to get back to practice. Who wouldn't want to prove doubters and critics wrong?
But The Sun's Matt Vensel says the Ravens shouldn't let him play this early because, as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year said himself yesterday, the team can't afford any setbacks in his recovery.
"The Ravens can't let him play this weekend, even if he begs and pleads on the entire plane ride to Houston," Vensel wrote. "The defense is in dire straits, but the Ravens have a two-game cushion in the AFC North, a bye week after Sunday's showdown with their fellow AFC powerhouse, and plenty of meaningful games left to play after the bye week, which will give Suggs an extra two weeks to strengthen his Achilles.
"There's no question Suggs would give the defense a boost. If Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are the heart and brains of this defense, Suggs is the cojones (pardon my Spanish). His big talk and his big plays have set the tone for a dominant defense in the past. But even though Sunday's game is huge, it's just not worth the risk."
Jones: I'll Only Dance If They Make Me Angry
Jacoby Jones is returning to Houston for the first time since he was released by the team this offseason.
Drafted by the Texans in 2007, Jones spent five seasons in Houston. He was cut after muffing a punt that ironically contributed to a Ravens' win in last season's divisional playoff game.
So does playing his former team carry special significance?
"I'm going to be honest. As soon as I signed and I saw [the Texans] on the schedule, I had circled it," Jones said in the CSNBaltimore.com video below. "But I sat and thought about it and I matured and I said, 'I'm going to enter this game as humble as possible.'"
Known for his entertaining touchdown celebrations, Jones said he believes Houston will expect him to dance if he scores. But he won't, he said.
"I'm going to go in there so humble, I'm going to kill them with kindness, like my mama tells me, 'Kill them with kindness.'"
After being pressed by the CSN hosts, Jones admitted that, under certain circumstances, he might have a special dance prepared.
"The only way I pull something out is if they make me angry out there," Jones said.
"Oh, they'll make you angry out there," replied analyst Brad Jackson.
"I know, that's the point," Jones said, as the set erupted with laughter.
- Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said he doesn’t feel pressure to produce like Lewis did. "I'm going to play the way I've been playing," he said. "I'm not trying to fill the shoes of Ray Lewis. I'm not going to be able to do that. He's the greatest linebacker to ever play the game. So I'm just going to go out there and play my game and help us win." [The Baltimore Sun]
- The Ravens could benefit from Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph possibly not playing Sunday. He has notched three interceptions against Baltimore, but is slowed with a sore groin. [The Baltimore Sun]
- @mzenitz The Carroll County Times]: Jerry Rosburg on Deonte Thompson: "We have [big plans for Deonte. He's going to be a great returner going forward, and it might be this week" [Twitter]
- @jeffzrebiecsun: Joe Flacco isn't naming names but he says, "There are some guys on this team that like to create a little more drama than others." [Twitter]
- @ravensinside Aaron Wilson]: Ravens rookie tackle Kelechi [Osemele is dealing with a hand/wrist injury. [Twitter]
- @jeffzrebiecsun: Worth mentioning about Ed Reed. He said he hurt his shoulder before Patriots game which is when he played his most physical game in years. [Twitter]
- @jasonbuttcbs: Suggs: "No, I don't have any family in Houston and I don't have any family going to Houston." [Twitter]
- @jasonlacanfora: Not sure why some keep propagating idea that Suggs, having been out about a half year and unable to fully practice yet, will play Sunday [Twitter]