Poor defensive play in their last two games and a spate of injuries to key players in the secondary and front line have the Baltimore Ravens scrambling for answers before their showdown with the Houston Texans Sunday.
Future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis tore his right triceps muscle against the Cowboys, was placed on injured reserve, and had surgery Thursday. The 13-time Pro Bowler tore the entire muscle, making his chance for a return this season very unlikely. Though Lewis reportedly told defensive tackle Haloti Ngata that he will be back, and he has been marked as "designated to return".
Making matters worse, stud cornerback Lardarius Webb also had surgery Thursday to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament and lateral meniscus in his left knee.
Safety Ed Reed also revealed in a radio interview this week that he is dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder, but has played through the injury. Reed was never listed on the Raven’s injury report, sparking an investigation by the NFL, but head coach John Harbaugh has publicly stated that most of his players are dealing with a similar injury.
Lewis and Webb’s absence could contribute to an already broken down Baltimore defense. The Ravens have given up more than 200 yards rushing in their last two games to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys, and are no. 22 in pass defense and No. 26 in run defense, rankings unheard of in Baltimore.
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees cut right to the core of his squad’s sub-par play.
"It makes me sick," Pees said to the Baltimore Sun. "It makes me sick is the best way I can put it. It really does. It's up to me and it's up to our staff to get this thing corrected."
The team is already in so much trouble speculation has swirled that linebacker Terrell Suggs, torn Achilles tendon and all, may return to the field Sunday against Houston well ahead of schedule.
Suggs was originally injured in April, and the typical recovery time for an Achilles tear is a year, but Baltimore’s recent struggles may have accelerated his return.
Harbaugh has been mum on Suggs’ return, and the team isn’t privy to rush him back in fear of making an already crippling injury a career-ender should Suggs hurt himself again.
"That's always a concern," Suggs said to ESPN. "That's why I've got the people around me that I trust. We're going to make the decision as a group, whether it would be better for me to sit out or suit up."
First-round pick Jimmy Smith has been promoted to Webb's spot in the starting lineup against Houston, and while it is impossible to replace Lewis, Balimore brought up inside linebacker Josh Bynes from the practice squad, and signed linebacker Nigel Carr and cornerback Jordan Maybin to the practice squad.