He didn't run out of the tunnel, but the Ravens' emotional leader was back with his team this past Sunday. Ray Lewis suffered a torn triceps on October 14 in the Ravens victory over the Dallas Cowboys, and has been away from the team since his October 17 surgery. He surprised coaches and teammates, who were under the impression that the veteran linebacker was in Florida, when he showed up during last Friday's practice.
Just days before Lewis' surprise appearance, head coach John Harbaugh told the media that he didn't expect to see the future Hall of Famer in Baltimore anytime soon.
“I can tell you this, he’s got the best doctors in the world – to my understanding – working on his triceps,” Harbaugh said. “So, I fully trust Ray with his rehab right now; I know he’s doing everything he can to get back.”
Lewis' friend and teammate running back Ray Rice had spoken with Lewis on the phone, and he was more optimistic.
Baltimore Ravens Vs. Oakland Raiders Game Preview: Where To Watch, Live Streaming, Betting Odds, And Keys To The Game
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
When: Sunday, November 11 at 1 p.m. ET
On TV: CBS, DirecTV: 707
On radio: Sirius XM 139
Live streaming: NFL Audio Pass
Betting odds: Ravens (-7 ½)
The Baltimore Ravens and the Oakland Raiders face off on Sunday in their first meeting since 2009. The Raiders make their third of five 2012 cross-country trips to face a Ravens team that is seemingly indomitable at home.
The 3-5 Raiders beat Baltimore rival the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the year. Their two other wins come against the Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8). Meanwhile, Baltimore's 6-2 record is hardly representative of a team that has struggled mightily on defense and stalled out offensively at times.
Keys to the game
Can Carson Palmer take advantage of the Ravens injury-plagued defense?
Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh: “I put a couple of players in charge during the game to keep an eye on me”
John Harbaugh has twice been penalized this season for self-described “enthusiasm” from the sideline. Considering the Ravens overall propensity in 2012 for racking up the penalties, Harbaugh's energetic interaction with the officials has come under some fire in Baltimore. If a coach lacks discipline, how can he harness in overly “enthusiastic” actions by his players?
In a conversation with 105.7 the FAN's Scott Garceau and Jeremy Conn, the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson spoke of the fine line a coach walks. A coach is responsible for maintaining control on the sidelines, but at the same time, a coach has to be himself.
Harbaugh is fiery, like his brother Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Fransisco 49ers, and his energy and intensity are certainly a part of this team's identity. However, the coach himself admits that he has to avoid costing his team yards.
On Wednesday, Harbaugh spoke to the press on the issue of Ravens' penalties.
Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees wasn't on the sideline last Sunday when the Ravens took on the Cleveland Browns. That's because he was in the coaches box above the field. While it's no oddity in the NFL for a defensive coordinator to work from behind the glass, Pees' change of location does mark a departure from the norm for the Ravens.
Pees' predecessors, Rex Ryan, Greg Mattison, and Chuck Pagano, all coached from the field. Pees, who was defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2005 to 2009, is accustomed to both approaches—elevated box and inches from the action. He said he doesn't feel particularly more comfortable with one than the other.
During the bye week, Pees and head coach John Harbaugh discussed making the change. The struggling defense includes many first-time starters, two more in Dannell Ellerbe and Jimmy Smith since the injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Pees said he hoped that he would have a better opportunity to gauge for himself some of the defensive mishaps from a bird's eye view.
John Harbaugh has had historic success with the Baltimore Ravens in his first four-plus years as a head coach in the NFL. While some would attribute his success to timing—the acquisitions of a franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco and an immensely talented running back in Ray Rice coincide with Harbaugh's introduction to head coaching—the truth is that he has changed the culture of the team, and his “team as family” mentality is the cornerstone of the winning formula Baltimore has enjoyed during his tenure.
Harbaugh took on a Ravens squad that was widely known for its lack of discipline on the field, and he entered a locker room that was fragmented. Veteran players initially displayed discomfort with Harbaugh's more authoritarian coaching style, as well as his motivational style. In his first season, one veteran player shrugged off one of Harbaugh's post-game speeches, saying that maybe using props and famous quotations worked for some of the younger guys.