The Ravens have had a few days to come to grips with life without Ray Lewis.
They’re still processing their way through it.
The man who will replace him in the lineup, Dannell Ellerbe, said it’s been “weird” not having the face of the Ravens franchise around.
“It is kinda weird [Lewis] not being around here,” Ellerbe said, via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. “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.”
Having outside linebacker Terrell Suggs back will help, but it’s not a one-to-one replacement.
Lewis missed four games last year, but is expected to miss the final 10 (though the Ravens used their designated-for-return tag on him).
That brings a different sense than a short-term problem, which demands a different solution. Ellerbe said “no one’s panicking,” but it’s clearly a huge adjustment.
“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.”
Of course, the larger truth is that the Ravens were becoming more of a Joe Flacco team than a Ray Lewis team this year anyway, and the loss of cornerback Lardarius Webb will have more of a tangible impact on the field.
But when a player has become such a touchstone for a franchise, there’s still going to be a void, one Ellerbe knows he can never fill.