By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens continue their preparation for Super Bowl XLVII in Owings Mills with the big game a little over a week away. The game plan is all but set as players began practice on Wednesday. The Ravens made their big run in the postseason by getting healthy at the right time. As the big day approaches, it’s a good idea to look closely at players who have been banged up a majority of the season.
Dannell Ellerbe didn’t practice on Thursday, but it would be a huge surprise if he didn’t play next Sunday. The Ravens have been cautious with the linebacker for the majority of the year. They don’t want to re-aggravate his ankle, which has been giving him problems the past couple of months. Having him on the football field is beneficial to Baltimore in so many ways. For starters, he’s one of the few linebackers on the roster that can cover tight-ends effectively. He also does a decent job of keeping up with slot receivers in the middle of the field. The Ravens will get him as close to 100 percent as possible before playing in the big stage.
Haloti Ngata has dealt with a knee injury for the most of the year. He was limited in practice on Thursday and for good reason. Ngata is slowly returning to Pro Bowl form. He was merely a big body in the defensive line mid way through the season, but in the playoffs, he’s finally getting some push at the line of scrimmage. That type of play will be crucial against the 49ers and their pistol formation. Haloti is in no real danger of missing the game but look for Baltimore to take it easy with the Pro Bowl lineman in hopes of keeping him fresh for the game next Sunday.
Similar to Ngata, Suggs has come back to form in the postseason. His Achilles tendon has given him problems for most of the year, but it appears as though that has come close to 100 percent. He finally has the burst off the ball that makes him lethal against opposing offenses. His biceps injury looks to be a non-factor on game day, but his increase in production may be accompanied with him getting into game shape. When Suggs returned against the Texans earlier this year, he looked a tad overweight. He was slow off the ball and lacked the relentlessness we are accustomed to seeing from him. That changed a great deal in the postseason as he has gotten considerable pressure on the passer and has helped changed the dynamic of the defense.
The Ravens are a little banged up as of now, but who isn’t at this point of the season? There’s a big difference between being hurt and being injured in the NFL. These players will tough it out as they remain one win away from the biggest prize in all of sports. The Vince Lombardi trophy remains within arms reach of the purple and black. The Ravens will do what they must to get players healthy in time for Super Bowl XLVII. When Baltimore runs out of the tunnel, expect them to be close to full strength.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.