Vonta Leach took his lumps as he played with two injuries to his right leg during the season, and he’s hoping his wounds can heal with rest and he can avoid off-season surgery, he told CSN Baltimore.
Leach, a Pro Bowl fullback, played through a high ankle sprain and then injured his medial collateral ligament in his knee in the regular-season finale at the Cincinnati Bengals.
It was a meaningless game for the Ravens, who only used their starters for the first two series of the game as they lost and finished the regular season 10-6.
Leach made a 2-yard catch on the second play and was injured. He didn't return. He said that he hasn't had any major surgeries in his nine-year career but he has some concern going into this off-season. Leach wasn't certain if it was a tear or sprain of the MCL, but tears can heal without surgery in about six weeks with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicines and a brace.
Leach led a long line of Ravens who played through pain to knock off the San Francisco 49ers to win the franchise’s second Super Bowl championship on Feb. 3. The more notable ones to play through pain:
S Ed Reed -- Now a free agent, he has played with torn cartilage in his shoulder as early as Week 3 in a game with the New England Patriots. Reed had trouble wrapping up runners and notably allowed Darrius Heyward-Bey to get a 55-yard TD pass. Reed hit him about 20 yards down field, but Heyward-Bey bounced off and went the distance. Fortunately for Reed, the Ravens beat the Oakland Raiders 55-20 in Week 10. He tied for a team-high four interceptions in the regular season and added three fumble recoveries. He also had an interception in the Super Bowl.
S Bernard Pollard -- He missed the last three games of the regular season to help an injury he incurred in Week 2, when teammate Courtney Upshaw crashed the top of his helmet into Pollard and broke three ribs. He damaged a few more as the season went on and played in the Super Bowl with six cracked ribs. Pollard combined with Upshaw on a sack of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, but Pollard -- who said he wasn't wearing rib protection -- was knocked out of the game. Pollard’s ribs probably contributed to his missed tackle of Michael Crabtree in the third quarter of the Super Bowl, when he went 31-yards for the score. But in the AFC title game at New England, Pollard drilled running back Stevan Ridley, knocking him out cold and forcing a fumble that the Ravens recovered to put that game away.
LB Dannell Ellerbe -- He had the most diverse set of injuries to play through. Ellerbe began the season with casts on both thumbs. An ankle injury kept him out three games late in the season, but it was a bulging disk in his back that threatened his postseason. Ellerbe played through it in the AFC championship game, getting an interception of Tom Brady in the victory. He played through it in the Super Bowl, peeling off a block to make a game-saving tackle of Frank Gore at the 7 and then hit quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the fourth-down throw that fell incomplete to seal the victory for Baltimore.