Why Didn't Haloti Ngata, Jimmy Smith Play?


The Ravens took down the Raiders 55-20 on Sunday, and they did so with two of their defensive starters watching from the sidelines.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Jimmy Smith were both suited up Sunday, but neither player ended up taking the field.

"We were hoping that we wouldn't have to play [Ngata], and it turned out we didn't have to play him so we decided to rest him this game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Ngata, who has been dealing with shoulder and knee injuries this season, said that he could have played if necessary. The Ravens took an early lead, however, and Oakland never really threatened. Thus, Baltimore was afforded the luxury of resting their Pro Bowler.

"I wasn't needed to play, so I think it was perfect," Ngata said. "I expected to play, but they just decided that if they needed me I could have [gone] out."

The day off gives Ngata more time to get healthy for next week's showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's definitely huge to get the extra rest and heal and hopefully have a good week this week," Ngata said.

Smith was also active, but the second year cornerback is dealing with a groin injury and couldn't get loose before the game. Smith spent much of the first half on the exercise bike on the sidelines, but was never able to get to a point where the coaches felt comfortable putting him in the game.

Unlike in Ngata's case, Harbaugh said the Ravens' comfortable lead did not have an effect on the decision to sit Smith. Even if the game was close, Smith's health would have prevented him from getting on the field.

"It just did not work for him with the tightness in his groin that he has been experiencing," Harbaugh said.

Smith has been dealing with the injury the last couple of weeks, but had not missed any game time before Sunday. He was a limited participant in practice during the week, but Harbaugh said they will have to re-evaluate Smith's health this week.

"We're going to have to take a hard look at that Monday and just see where he's at," Harbaugh said. "This is the first time it has gotten to the point where he just couldn't get loose enough to play."

With Smith out, Corey Graham and Cary Williams started at cornerback, and Chykie Brown worked as the nickel back in passing situations.

The other injury in the secondary was to veteran safety Ed Reed, who suffered a shoulder stinger on a play in which he missed a tackle on wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey after making hard contact. The missed tackle and subsequent sprint for the end zone ended up going for a touchdown.

"I'm fine," Reed said after the game. "It's just a minor stinger."

Reed did come back in the game after the injury, but he spent the fourth quarter on the sideline after the Ravens built up a big lead. James Ihedigbo took Reed's place on the field.

"I knew [Ihedigbo] was ready to come in there and play a good game and pick me up and do better than I was doing at that time," Reed said.

The other player dealing with an injury during the week was veteran offensive lineman Bobbie Williams. He started at left guard, but the Ravens turned to second-year lineman Jah Reid after two series to replace Williams on the line. Reid played the rest of the game at left guard.

Williams has been dealing with the ankle injury since last season, but he said that he could have stayed in the game if needed. Harbaugh said the desire to rest Williams and get Reid more playing time – because of the youngster's improved performance in practice – played into the decision to make the change.

"I feel good," Williams said. "It got [Reid] the chance to get out there in a live game situation, and I thought he did pretty good.

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