Ian Rapoport | Tags:
The Ravens will be without star LB Ray Lewis today and almost certainly for the rest of the season. If you haven’t been in a cave this week, you already know that. And, as I just mentioned on Twitter, Lewis won’t be accompanying the team to Houston.
This was a topic all week, and it’ll continue to be a big-time topic all year… even if the loss of CB Lardarius Webb is probably more important between the whistles. Losing Lewis may hurt most emotionally, leaving a leadership void.
I talked with Ravens LB Dannell Ellerbe on the phone this week as he prepares for his first start of the season in place of Lewis. And what he described has been missing is, well, what you’d expect.
“It is kinda weird (Lewis) not being around here,” Ellerbe told me. “He just has that aura around himself that, I mean, you’re around him you want to do better. You want to receive praise from Ray Lewis, but doing something good, it means a lot. But it happened last year, he went out and the defense did a good job. We did good without him. We definitely need him here, but while he’s out, next men up have to step up.”
From what I can tell, that’s the consensus. It’s strange, you miss his voice, but they have last year to lean on. Now, Ellerbe is tasked with replacing him, slated to start alongside Jameel McClain.
“I hate to have to start by default and start because he’s hurt,” Ellerbe said. “I mean, we did it last year when he got hurt, but it’s basically going out there and doing my job and winning a football game. It’s not so much trying to fill the shoes of the greatest linebacker to play the game, I’d be crazy going in and saying that.”
The coaches haven’t spent a ton of time addressing it, Ellerbe said, adding that “no one’s panicking.”
For the Texans, it’s odd, too. RB Arian Foster told me nothing changed for the Ravens defense scheme-wise. He knows this franchise and how “that organization has been known to put out great defensive players for years and years. So, the guys stepping up will be just as capable. Obviously, you miss a guy like Ray Lewis, but that’s football, man. The next guy has to step up and play and I know they expect a lot from the next guy.”
But how good was Lewis? “I think he was better this year than he was last year,” Foster told me. “Yeah. He just looked more fluid to me.”
Now, the Ravens will soldier on without him. We’ll see how they do Sunday…