Linebacker Ray Lewis had a great season last year and made some remarkable plays— such as the dramatic stop in San Diego against Chargers running back Darren Sproles. Yet, could he perform even better next season? While some say Lewis has lost a step, many fail to realize how the new defensive tackles could make his job easier. Lewis certainly enjoys having the big tackles up front distracting the offensive lineman so that he can turn it loose. As our editor Coonon Kim stated in a previous article, “The upgraded defensive line could help the linebackers.”
Yes, Haloti Ngata and rookie Terrance Cody will be a force to reckon with, but don’t forget veteran Corey Redding and Trevor Pryce. A key name that sometimes gets forgotten this offseason is veteran nose tackle Kelly Gregg. Gregg should be at full strength this year after recovering from a micro-fracture surgery.
This training camp will be interesting as the defensive tackles compete. In the mix for competition are names such as rookie Arthur Jones, Brandon McKinney, Paul Kruger and Kelly Talavou. If you recall, the team also signed 333-pounder LaMar Divens, who was placed on IR last year.
Another factor going into Lewis’ success is a solidified linebacking corps. Darnell Ellerbe has had some playing experience and should be in tune with the defensive schemes, leaving Lewis to freely take care of his responsibilities. You would assume Terrell Suggs will put up better numbers, and Jarret Johnson has always been consistent. All of these factors can only help Ray Lewis thrive this year.
Lewis is feeling good about how the defensive line is improving, and it’s showing. Pointed out in the BaltimoreRavens.com site, “Lewis didn’t feel he needed to bulk up this offseason to better shed blockers. He could get back to the streamlined Ray Lewis of the old, the unchained Super Bowl MVP Ray Lewis.”
Ray Lewis stated, “My mindset definitely changed when we drafted Cody. Just imaging Cory Redding, Cody, [Haloti] Ngata and [Terrell] Suggs on one line. I think I get to run around and have fun again, and that’s always a good thing.” http://blogs.baltimoreravens.com/2010/05/07