Ravens: Random thoughts on Ray
If you want my take on the Ray Lewis injury situation, I'll have a column posted on the Web site a little later today, but I still had more to say when I ran out of room in tomorrow's paper, so here goes.
I'm going against the odds and the experts in guessing that Ray will show up on the field tomorrow. If you're able to read between the lines of the John Harbaugh quotes that have been published or blogged, it certainly sounds like Ray will be inactive, but we're talking about Ray Lewis and he may have something to say about that on Sunday morning.
Whether he should play is another matter, and a complicated one. He clearly is the spiritual and motivational leader of the team, but that didn't count for all that much last week against the Seattle Seahawks. I don't know when exactly he suffered the toe injury, but he didn't look very mobile and the Seahawks took advantage of that on at least one key play late in the game.
Everybody loves the Ray-Ray intro dance and everybody puts a lot of stock in Ray's pre-game Sunday-cone-to-meeting speech to his teammates, but we've come to a point in this strange season when you have to ask whether it is making any difference. Ray has made that speech three times before games in which the Ravens didn't look particularly imspired against lesser opponents, so there's room to wonder if the message is still getting through.
However, his contribution on the field -- when healthy -- is without question. Even at 36, he leads the Ravens in tackles and (like Cal Ripken in his later years) is able to make up for whatever physical ability he has lost to age with his terrific instincts and vast knowledge of defensive football.
I'm guessing he'll thumb his nose at Father Time for at least one more season, but it's hard to speculate on what he'll be able to over the next few weeks. We'll obviously have a better idea tomorrow.