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Ray Lewis: Quest for Another Ring

Ray Lewis may be the greatest defensive player of his era in the NFL Ray Lewis may be the greatest defensive player of his era in the NFL

The Baltimore Ravens have finally addressed their biggest historic weakness – their passing game. That poises the team for a run at this season’s Super Bowl, which will be one of the last cracks at a second ring aging linebacker Ray Lewis will have. Lewis is one of the great defensive players in the modern era of the NFL, but at 35, he’s in the twilight of his career.

Lewis was a Ravens first round pick in the 1996 NFL draft. Prior to that, he had an outstanding career with the University of Miami Hurricanes, and the two-time All-American was able to step into a regular role with Baltimore very quickly.

Since his rookie year, Lewis has been chosen as an All-Pro nine times, as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year twice, and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV in 2001. That year, an offensively challenged Ravens squad used the league’s best defense to put away the New York Giants 34-7.

But before the future Hall of Famer plays his last game, he’d love one more shot at a championship. This year may be his year.

The Ravens remain defensively strong. Even with Lewis’s best years behind him, he remains the charismatic leader of a tough defense. However, the health of safety Ed Reed will be a pivotal factor in the secondary for the Ravens in 2010. Reed has struggled to overcome injury this pre-season.

But the big change for Baltimore is on offense.

With Ray Rice emerging as a superstar running back, the Ravens are in good stead in the backfield. Similarly, Joe Flacco has been a wunderkind at quarterback, setting records for most starts in the first two seasons by a quarterback after playing two full seasons plus two playoff games in both his rookie and sophomore seasons.

The Ravens went out in the off-season and addressed their weakest area by picking up reliable receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth. They, along with returning Raven Derrick Mason, will provide Flacco with trusty targets all season. Boldin especially is a force down the middle of the field and in the red zone.

The Baltimore Ravens 2010 offense now actually looks better than the one that won a Super Bowl back in 2001. Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and Anquan Boldin all constitute offensive stars. On the other side of the ball, the Raven defense is still the strength of the team, but it’s not quite the juggernaut it was a decade ago. Neither is Ray Lewis. But with the most balanced threat the team has had in his tenure, this is likely Lewis’s best and final shot at earning one more championship ring.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 10:40

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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