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Ray Lewis hasn’t been the same since his return

Ravens  linebacker Ray Lewis warms-up with his team before playing against the San Diego Chargers in San Diego

There was a lot of outrage this week when Ray Lewis made the Pro Bowl team over Brian Cushing.

Lewis missed four games with a toe injury, so that was a good argument against him. But it’s also worth remembering that Lewis was enjoying his best season in years before he got hurt and was on his way to earning that honor.

Unfortunately, Lewis has looked like a different guy since returning to the field two weeks ago.

“It’s obvious that the toe injury hasn’t healed completely and he can’t push off,” one opposing coach told Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun. “The toe is not ready. If you look back over Ray Lewis’ career, one of his biggest assets was being able to get off blocks and run. Now, he can’t get off blocks because he can’t push off.”

Lewis has not looked like himself the last two weeks. The Ravens may have been better off resting Lewis more before the playoffs, but it’s too late for that approach now.

The best Baltimore can hope for is a win in Cincinnati Sunday, so that Lewis gets a week to rest. That may not be long enough to get the old Ray Lewis back again this season.

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50 Responses to “Ray Lewis hasn’t been the same since his return”
  1. ziggy26 says: Dec 30, 2011 9:03 AM

    Haloti Ngata hasn’t been as disruptive in the second half of the season. He was arguably the best defensive player in the NFL through the first 8 games, but since then he’s only had one dominant performance (San Fran game).

    Baltimore needs him to step up more than it needs Lewis.

  2. tinkletinkleonyourstar says: Dec 30, 2011 9:03 AM

    physically, maybe he hasn’t been the same.
    but mentally, he still has the ‘killer’ instinct.

  3. grpatriot says: Dec 30, 2011 9:04 AM

    Ought to be a close game…..? Got a feeling Cincy sneaks this one out…Ravens on the road this year, not good…..

  4. kokoskmr says: Dec 30, 2011 9:08 AM

    I hope Brian Cushing gets to go to the Pro Bowl because Ray Lewis is getting ready for the Superbowl. I think Ray hope for that as well.

  5. watermelon1 says: Dec 30, 2011 9:08 AM

    Just another example of how John Harbaugh is such a joke, and it’s ridiculous that people actually give HIM credit for the team’s success. He inherited a very talented team, and all he did was make the special teams WORSE since he’s been there. And he was supposed to be a special teams guy to begin with!

    They rest Lewis a couple weeks, then… bring him back in a game which they face a team where their main receiving threat is the tight end? Really? You want Ray Lewis’s first game back to be him chasing Antonio Gates all over the middle of the field? Makes absolutely no sense. And as you can see, the Chargers embarrassed the Ravens.

    Sure, that had more to do with the inept offense than Ray Lewis. But as it’s already been stated, another 2 weeks of rest sure could have helped Ray Lewis get closer to fully recovered.

    If I’m the Ravens, I sit Lewis this week. And if they end up having to play the Patriots in the playoffs… I’d sit him that week too. There’s no way I want him trying to cover Gronkowski or Hernandez.

  6. cardmagnet says: Dec 30, 2011 9:08 AM

    I’d rather the honor go to an injured guy who proved he is a great player than a healthy guy who proved he is not above cheating.

  7. naanunaanu says: Dec 30, 2011 9:09 AM

    Well he is the greatest linebacker in nfl history. No one has done it like him for as long as good. Go Ravens . He wants this win more than anyone he will be ready

  8. jessieboom says: Dec 30, 2011 9:10 AM

    Thats good news for his stupid little dance.

  9. kokoskmr says: Dec 30, 2011 9:11 AM

    “turf toe” is what eventually caused Jonathan Ogden to retire. Maybe it’s the “Achilles heel” of future Ravens Hall of Famers. Hmmm…what caused Matt Stover to hang them up?

  10. ud1hens says: Dec 30, 2011 9:14 AM

    While Ray Lewis was having a solid year up to the injury, it’s hard not to admit how young and fast the defense looked in the 4 games he missed. His leadership and football smarts is without question a unique intangible to have but I think the Ravens will be fine when 52 decides to hang em up.

  11. football58 says: Dec 30, 2011 9:15 AM

    Ray Lewis is old. Ed Reed is old, slower and injured. The Ravens have no chance to get to the Superbowl. Not to mention Joe Flacco is inadequate at QB.

  12. vintwok says: Dec 30, 2011 9:16 AM

    Old, slow, it’s over!

  13. KIR says: Dec 30, 2011 9:18 AM

    Isn’t that the guy who was named defensive rookie of the year and then suspended part of last year for steroids? Come on man! I think Rays best years are behind him and there might be someone more deserving but Cushing needs to sit down and shut up. Have a pro bowl year again next year and then you can talk.

  14. hashsview says: Dec 30, 2011 9:19 AM

    Call him what you want. Say he has poor values. But when it comes to between the lines this man is the best Middle Linebacker ever. Hes the reason Baltimore has been known for a great defense for the past 12-13 years. Cue the stupid Steeler Comments. FYI, not a Ravens fan. Just from PA.

  15. OldGrayRunningbackRetirementHome says: Dec 30, 2011 9:27 AM

    The window is closing on the Ravens fast and the Steelers and Pats are waiting to nail and paint it shut. Is this the year???

  16. dionoil says: Dec 30, 2011 9:29 AM

    Ray Lewis is an all time great, but the best ever? You must not have seen LT in his prime

  17. bmoreballbuster says: Dec 30, 2011 9:35 AM

    Taking into account the tenacity and leadership qualities of Ray, I’d rather have him play in a cast or boot than coach from the sidelines. Being voted to the Pro Bowl isn’t a popularity contest. He’s more than earned his dues. Getting a first round nod to the HOF proves nothing less that he’s the ultimate LB of all time. GO RAVENS!

  18. toallpitzberghaters says: Dec 30, 2011 9:36 AM

    As a ravens fan, i would hope that he would be at the point of his respected career that he would do whats best for the team. So for that i think he would be on his a-game for this one. If people really believe that this game is more important for cincy then it is for baltimore, what would be the point of going 8-0 at home, and so far 5-0 in the division. The whole season is damn near wasted if the ravens as a team cannot go to cincy and handle they’re overrated selves. Its on. Go buffalo!

  19. noquickreactionshere says: Dec 30, 2011 9:37 AM

    watermelon1 says:
    Dec 30, 2011 9:08 AM
    Just another example of how John Harbaugh is such a joke, and it’s ridiculous that people actually give HIM credit for the team’s success. He inherited a very talented team, and all he did was make the special teams WORSE since he’s been there. And he was supposed to be a special teams guy to begin with!

    They rest Lewis a couple weeks, then… bring him back in a game which they face a team where their main receiving threat is the tight end? Really? You want Ray Lewis’s first game back to be him chasing Antonio Gates all over the middle of the field? Makes absolutely no sense. And as you can see, the Chargers embarrassed the Ravens.

    Sure, that had more to do with the inept offense than Ray Lewis. But as it’s already been stated, another 2 weeks of rest sure could have helped Ray Lewis get closer to fully recovered.

    If I’m the Ravens, I sit Lewis this week. And if they end up having to play the Patriots in the playoffs… I’d sit him that week too. There’s no way I want him trying to cover Gronkowski or Hernandez.

    __________________________

    Aww it’s so cute that you try to talk about football! Apparantly you did not know that Harbaugh took over the Ravens after a 5-11 season, with a rookie QB, patchwork O-line, and suspect secondary. The Ravens had not been to the playoffs in back to back seasons ever and had won 1 playoff game since 2000. The teams record was slightly over .500. They were the perfect example of the inmates running the asylum, extrordinarally undiciplined. Bart Scott throwing a officials flag into the stands etc….

    This is the main reason why Rex Ryan didn’t get the job, he was loosey goosey rexy; Harbaugh is high and tight, tough, tenacious, intense. The Ravens then continue on to go 11-5, 9-7, 12-4, and this year at worst 11-5. They have won playoff games in every year he has been there (4 total) and are the only team to go to the playoffs each of the past 4 years. He took over an average team with a good solid defense and a laughable joke of an offense that consistantly keep the team from being successfull and has made them super bowl contenders year after year.

    I love who fans seem to think that because linebackers are often responsible for tight ends that automatically Ray Lewis will be covering Gronk or Gates on every single play every down. Any thought that Pollard or McClain will cover the tight ends? By the way Gates had 0 catches in the second half against Baltimore he had a total of 2 catches for 31 yards, the corners got exposed and Smith/Williams were a huge cause of that loss. The absence of Ladarius Webb was much more of a factor in that game than the play of Ray Lewis.

  20. tommyribs says: Dec 30, 2011 9:41 AM

    Cushing was indeed snubbed, but let’s remember, he did test positive for Steroids and he will have to fight that Stigma among his peers. His peers had a choice between a guy who ‘Got Caught Cheating’ and a guy who has done for 16 years on his talent.

    And please don;t think I am hating on Cushing, I know the reality of how many of these guys use something to get an edge, but the Steroids thing could have hurt him.

    Roids or no Roids, Cushing is a great Linebacker, and he has helped with a monumental turnaround of the defense in Houston.

  21. illiniftw says: Dec 30, 2011 9:43 AM

    He just hasn’t been the same since he got away with killing that guy… oh wait, never mind, the toe is bothering him way more!

  22. fcs34 says: Dec 30, 2011 9:44 AM

    There isn’t alot left for Ray to accomplish in the NFL. He’s got his ring, his all pro’s, etc and is obviously a first ballot hall of famer. It impresses me greatly that this guy comes back year after year just because he loves playing the game (I know he gets paid too lol). The leauge needs more Ray Lewises, not less.

  23. ottomanismydog says: Dec 30, 2011 9:46 AM

    Without a doubt one of the best of all time. But for his style of play the toe injury can end it all, just ask Jack Lambert.

  24. runrickyrun34 says: Dec 30, 2011 9:52 AM

    @watermelon1

    Harbaugh inherited a talented team? He took over after a 5-11 season where players didn’t want to play for Billick anymore. Most of the team he “took over” is no longer on the roster or did not have any signifficant playing time from 2009 to the present but yet they’re going to the playoff’s for the fourth straight year, something Billick didn’t do. And regardless of talent, you still have to coach it. Tomlin took over a pretty good team too. Is he overrated? No. He just knows how to coach the players he has, like Harbaugh.

    As for Lewis, he’s still one of the top 3 LB’s on the team so he’s going to play regardless of whether or not he’s slower than before. The team will draft a LB or two in the early rounds to start the process of rebuilding the LB core. And so what if he made the Pro Bowl and maybe shouldn’t have. All all-star games have players who make it on name recognition alone so this should come as no surprise. Cushing will get his chance. And it isn’t purley fan voting. Cushing doesn’t strike me as someone who is favored by opposing players or coaches. If he’s not voted as a starter by the fans then he’ll have difficulty getting in.

  25. broomehandle says: Dec 30, 2011 9:55 AM

    Dionoil lewis is the best middle linebacker of alltime LT played outside linebacker get your facts straight

  26. tcdeg says: Dec 30, 2011 10:04 AM

    “tommyribs says:
    Dec 30, 2011 9:41 AM
    Cushing was indeed snubbed, but let’s remember, he did test positive for Steroids and he will have to fight that Stigma among his peers. His peers had a choice between a guy who ‘Got Caught Cheating’ and a guy who has done for 16 years on his talent.

    And please don;t think I am hating on Cushing, I know the reality of how many of these guys use something to get an edge, but the Steroids thing could have hurt him.

    Roids or no Roids, Cushing is a great Linebacker, and he has helped with a monumental turnaround of the defense in Houston.”

    ———————————————————

    Even though I am a Texans fan, I agree it is going to take Brian some time before he regains his credibility (if that ever happens). Thankfully, he has been a man possessed this year and with the league certainly testing him repeatedly, it is safe to assume he is playing clean.

    One thing I did want to mention is that Cushing never did test positive for steroids. He tested positive for a something that is commonly used as a masking agent for steroids. I’m not saying that this means he didn’t use steroids, I just wanted to point out the difference.

  27. sbs9101314304043 says: Dec 30, 2011 10:16 AM

    Speaking of great Middle Linebackers, Turf toe also caused Jack Lambert to retire too.

  28. whodeydaytonchapter says: Dec 30, 2011 10:31 AM

    I totally agree. The pro bowl has too many guys that go every year based on who the used to be. Ray Lewis is the poster child of undeserved pro bowl selections. but he is not alone.

  29. bertcampaneris says: Dec 30, 2011 10:50 AM

    Well, he certainly doesn’t look as sharp as he has in past years, like around a decade or so ago. With an injury like that it’s really hard to make those precise cuts and slice through those big O-linemen to get to the ball carrier.

    Now, when will get back to his previous level? I’ll take a stab at this and say likely never. Age and nagging injuries are real career killers.

    BTW, they could also stand to get their kicker some help, too, as he’s been shanking quite a few balls of late.

  30. godzilla111111 says: Dec 30, 2011 10:53 AM

    Re: watermelon1

    Harbs inherited a 5-11 team. He was forced by injury and illness to go with a rookie QB. Harbs ended up in the AFC Championship game.

    Fourth year in the play-offs.

    We should all be so “lucky”.

  31. stanleyfrankmusial says: Dec 30, 2011 10:57 AM

    The Pro Bowl is by far the worst all-star game of the “Big 4″. They all want to get selected, but then not actually go. When the actual game rolls around they are down to 4th alternates whose agents can then say their man was a Pro Bowler.

    Regarding his turf toe, Ray Lewis should go under the knife to get that fixed.

  32. gb4mn0 says: Dec 30, 2011 11:09 AM

    Doesn’t it bother anyone else that this 36 yr old man comes out of the tunnel with his “look at me I’m the great Ray Lewis dance?”

    He’s one of the most camera aware players in history and when the lights go out on his career espn in keeping with their street cred agenda will force feed him to us till we’re nauseous.

  33. nockinon7sdoor says: Dec 30, 2011 11:12 AM

    @ hashview:

    Call him what you want. Say he has poor values. But when it comes to between the lines this man is the best Middle Linebacker ever. Hes the reason Baltimore has been known for a great defense for the past 12-13 years. Cue the stupid Steeler Comments. FYI, not a Ravens fan. Just from PA.

    __________________________________

    Call him what I want? OK. I’ll call him one of the greatest middle linebackers to ever play the game. And poor values? Works hard, always prepared, helps the younger players, seldom makes critical remarks of foes or refs, gives his time and money to people in need, made the most of his second chance. Yeah, those values are deplorable! Sorry I do not have any stupid Steelers comments for you… FYI, not a Ravens fan either.

    Go Steelers!!

  34. bullcharger says: Dec 30, 2011 11:19 AM

    In the 4 games Lewis was out the Baltimore defense allowed 12.5 points per game.

    The last two games the Ravens allowed 24 points per game.

    That doesn’t tell the whole story obviously, but the Ravens D were pretty good without Ray Lewis.

  35. eaglesw00t says: Dec 30, 2011 11:19 AM

    Ray Lewis was having a good year.

    But not nearly as good as Cushing. The fact that he didnt make the Pro Bowl is a joke. Im guessing fans going for name recognition, and other players voting for an old friend (plus the PED issue) trumps actual good play in the NFL.

    Names, past seasons, and all the rest should be irrelevant. Cushing not only should have made the Pro Bowl, but should be starting. He has been fantastic.

  36. barklikeadog says: Dec 30, 2011 11:21 AM

    Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar haven’t been the same either, you murderer!

  37. noquickreactionshere says: Dec 30, 2011 11:40 AM

    @ bullcharger

    Those numbers are slanted because of the opponent. In the 12.5 streach they played San Fran, Cleveland, Indy. They gave up 10 points to Cleveland.

    In the last 2 games they played San Diego and Cleveland and gave up 14 points to cleveland (7 offensive points, the other TD was a punt return).

    The D looked dominant against a lesser opponent last week against Cleveland. The big injury that is not talked about that resulted in those numbers is the loss of Ladarius Webb for the San Diego game.

  38. golonger says: Dec 30, 2011 11:43 AM

    First of all, I can’t believe this is a story. Anytime ANYONE gets hurt and goes back in, Do they perform the same????Especially when they are still healing???Jeez

    Also, if any of you knew anything about football, sometimes one heals better actually using the part of the body that is injured vs. just sitting on the sideline doing nothing. Lewis is playing at about 75% but the idea is that will improve as each week goes by.

    Having him in their at 75% is better than having most LBs…..

  39. randolph32 says: Dec 30, 2011 11:43 AM

    Must be a group of youngins’….the best, Lewis is in the team picture, but the poster boys are Nitzchke and Butkus…

  40. golonger says: Dec 30, 2011 11:43 AM

    Cushing = over-rated by a mile!

  41. golonger says: Dec 30, 2011 11:46 AM

    Ray Lewis > LT….by a mile….Lewis is like the QB of the defense….LT was all talent…no brain power…….

  42. zippy33 says: Dec 30, 2011 11:49 AM

    Really, barklikeadickhead? If you have some proof of anything, the D.A. in Georgia might want to hear from you.

  43. richm2256 says: Dec 30, 2011 11:57 AM

    hashsview says:
    Call him what you want. Say he has poor values. But when it comes to between the lines this man is the best Middle Linebacker ever.
    ——————————————————–
    Great? No doubt.

    Best ever?

    Butkis and Lambert were better.

  44. 13fitzj says: Dec 30, 2011 12:09 PM

    I think the bigger outrage regarding pro bowl snubs, and not just this year, is London Fletcher. Dude’s a beast and he’s never missed a game since he came into the league as an UDFA with St. Louis in ’98

  45. eaglesw00t says: Dec 30, 2011 12:11 PM

    Ray Lewis > LT….by a mile….Lewis is like the QB of the defense….LT was all talent…no brain power…….

    —————————————-

    Please tell me you are trolling here, and arent actually serious.

  46. sterling7 says: Dec 30, 2011 12:15 PM

    Been an awesome ride-but unfortunately it’s time to let go…………………………

  47. steelersownyou says: Dec 30, 2011 12:16 PM

    Haha funny article. I was thinking more like 5 years! But o.k if that’s how low the standard is in bmore. We’re just used to better linebackers in pittsburgh I guess. Afterall we created the position & have numerous in the hall of fame. I guess we’re just spoiled…poor steelers fans!

  48. clayton43 says: Dec 30, 2011 12:25 PM

    How come none of the media outlets talk about Ray Rays murder and sellout of his friends and his admitted use of HGH spray anymore ? He will ttretire here soon enough as the drug test for HGH gets actually used. Is amazing to me that the NFL, Baltimore fans, as well as the media push this aside.

  49. charmcityravens says: Dec 30, 2011 12:31 PM

    I’m going to commit an act of Baltimore Blasphemy and agree with the title of this post. It’s quite clear Ray ain’t 100%. He looked absolutely dreadful in his first game back against SD. He was terrible in pass coverage when he lined up with a receiver. And when he committed to pass rush he was easily handled (and even pancaked once) by Jared Gaither.

    I know I’ll get burned at the stake for saying this by my fellow Ravens fans….but our defense looks a heck of a lot faster without Ray in the lineup. The Ravens front 7 was recording a groundbreaking number of sacks when Ray was on the sideline.

    Suggs and Double-J are great mainstays. Ellerbe, McClain and Ayanbadejo have been great in rotation. If Harbs has some cojones, he’ll sit Ray against Cincy and give him another 2 weeks to rest (provided that the Ravens win in Cincy…a big “if”) before their first home playoff game.

    For the record…Watermelon1 you’ve just gone down in PFT history for the most blissfully ignorant football stmnt ever recorded on this site. Harbs is riding the coattails of a team created by Billick? Sheer stupidity in pure form. The QB is new (Flacco was a rookie for Harbs inaugural season), the Pro-Bowl running Back is new. The RT Oher is new. The entire WR corps is new: Boldin, Evans, Torrey Smith. The entire secondary minus Ed Reed is new. Etc., etc., etc. Just a completely stupid statement from someone who obviously doesn’t watch much football.

  50. barklikeadog says: Dec 30, 2011 1:07 PM

    Really, zippy! And I’m SURE the DA would love to put that scumbag away! And his ‘friends’ would love to talk to ol’ Ray-Ray too – if he would only come and visit them in prison. That’s why they’re there – because their dear ol’ Ray-Ray turned on ‘em. How ya like that, zippy?

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