LB Ellerbe key to pass defense

LB Ellerbe key to pass defense
December 5, 2012, 3:00 am
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Among the Ravens’ wounded, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is the most overlooked.

Linebackers Ray Lewis (triceps) is expected to practice as early as Wednesday and Terrell Suggs (biceps) could be out for Sunday’s game at the Washington Redskins.

Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (groin surgery) and Chris Johnson (hamstring) have been out. While Smith’s return doesn't appear imminent, Johnson could work his way back after missing the last two games.

Ellerbe missed his first game of the season in last week’s 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that ended their 15-game home winning streak.

Ellerbe, who has started five games this season, has 4.5 sacks. He went down less than two weeks ago in the second quarter vs. the San Diego Chargers.

He was in pass coverage, went untouched, fell down with a foot and ankle injury and never returned. Ellerbe already has been playing with broken thumbs.

“Dannell Ellerbe is continuing to work, and we anticipate he’s got a chance to get back this week,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We were hopeful for this past game, but it just didn’t work out. We took him right to gameday, and he was unable to go.”

In the Ravens’ first six games, Ellerbe was playing just less than 52% of the defensive snaps. In his four games before his injury in San Diego, Ellerbe played 100% as the defense has improved gradually.

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, a third-stringer, had his best game since 2001 as he feasted on a Ravens defense that was soft in the middle where Ellerbe would usually drop into coverage.

In particular, tight end Heath Miller had 5 catches for 97 yards – his best game of the season. Batch helped produce five plays of 20 yards or more.