Terrell Suggs pulled off the impossible when he took the field just five months and two weeks after tearing his Achilles. Now, Ray Lewis, not to be outdone, may make his own remarkable return as soon as week 15.
Lewis suffered a fully torn triceps in the Ravens October 14th victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The injury requires a four month recovery period, but YahooSports Michael Silver reports that Lewis may be targeting a December 16th comeback against the Denver Broncos. If that is the case, Lewis expects to have made a full recovery in half the typical recovery time.
Lewis has long prided himself on his extreme efforts to take care of his body. His off-season workouts border on fanatical, and he follows a strict regimen of eating and sleeping. He is also known in somewhat mythical terms for his ability to impose his will—in game situations and in terms of the length of his career.
The middle linebacker is in his 17th year in the NFL, an improbable feat for his position. At the time he torn his triceps, he led the team in tackles. While his speed and strength at age 37 have been called into question by fans and pundits, his instinct, knowledge of the game, and ability to direct teammates on the field are qualities that make his presence invaluable.
The Ravens defense has fared well without Lewis, as replacement Dannell Ellerbe has played with both physical prowess and mental acuity. If Lewis is able to return, there will be some who question whether he is still the best man for the job. However, Lewis brings to the table what the young front seven lack: experience and an unparalleled football IQ.
Head coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees have found success rotating linebackers, and even playing with extra linebackers on the field at times. It's likely that Ellerbe will be on the field in obvious passing situations. Lewis may not be an every down player anymore, but if he returns, he will be part of the game plan, and with good reason.