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Young Ravens Showing Leadership


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While **Ray Lewis** is showing no signs of slipping from the NFL's elite, the Ravens will lose a lot of leadership when he finally decides to hang up his cleats.

So who could be next in line to assume that mantle?

According to the 11-time Pro Bowler, the Ravens already have their fair share of leaders, but Lewis specifically pointed to three promising young pros.  

"You look at a **Michael Oher**, he'll probably do it in a more quiet way, but he won't be quiet when he's playing," Lewis told earlier this week.   "A lot of times, you can lead by example. **Ray Rice** has been one of my go-to's because of his humility and his heart. Lardarius Webb, I love that kid.  His wherewithal in the game and life itself, he has a different perspective.  

"There are a lot of guys here that are really going to keep this organization going."

Lewis is known for not only mentoring players on his own team, but also across the league, so those are big words from one of the most-respected names in the NFL.  

And, the sentiments are not lost on the fledgling Ravens.

"He's shown the young guys the way, and when you have someone like that passing the torch, it's something special," said Rice said of Lewis.  "Whether Ray is around the game or not, people are going to respond to him because he's a leader.  That's what the great ones do.  We have a guy that not only wants to be the greatest, but wants his legacy to live on."

Rice said he takes pride in being a leader.  An active participant in his native New Rochelle, N.Y., and Baltimore communities, Rice is on the forefront of many of the Ravens' service initiatives.  

Football-wise, Rice chooses to inspire teammates with his hard work.

"The way I played the game, I see myself as a leader as far as work ethic goes," explained the third-year running back.  "I think it comes from your love of the game.  If you love the game, you're going to do everything you can to be the best player and best person you can."

The same goes for Webb, who cites Lewis and safetyEd Reed as big influences in his maturation from a rookie out of FCS Nicholls State to more-than-capable starter.

"I think Ray sees the potential in what we have," stated Webb.  "He's been around and seen it all, so for him to say that is motivation to get better and get to the place where he sees me.  I look up to him all the way.

"I had to grow into being a leader in college.  When I was younger, I looked up to the older guys to see how they did it.  I learned that the better your leaders are, the greater your team is.  That's how I came up."

Oher's locker is two down from Lewis', and the sophomore offensive tackle agreed with Lewis' "lead by example" assertation.

"Ray Lewis is a guy I've been watching for a long time, the way he plays the game," Oher said.  "He's very emotional. It's very important to him and there's a certain amount of fire inside him.  I try to bring that, too."

"I know what kind of player he is and all the knowledge he has, the emotional side of the game.  It's big to be on the same team as him."

Seeing how Lewis is in the second year of a seven-year contract and is still playing at a high level, the Ravens likely won't face life without No. 52 for some time.

But as long as Lewis is still in the locker room, many of the young Ravens are obviously taking a page from his leadership handbook.

"I try to learn everything I can from him, so if I do get a chance to be here a long time like he has, I can pass down some of that knowledge, too," said Webb.  

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