Ravens turn their attention to Manning, Broncos
More than Ray Lewis, the Ravens were missing several other key pieces against the Denver Broncos in their first meeting less than a month ago.
They didn’t have linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, either, in addition to Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, safety Bernard Pollard and tight end Ed Dickson -- all starters.
“We’re staring at a couple of guys that didn’t play that might play, too,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “Whoever you decide are still excellent players, and it will still come down to execution.”
Ellerbe missed all three games of a three-game losing streak because of an ankle injury. Arguably, he has been the Ravens’ most valuable defensive player because of his ability to drop into coverage as well as stopping the run.
“He plays the game fast. He has good speed and quickness,” Fox said. “He is very athletic. Preparing the last time, on tape we saw him a lot. Obviously, last week (we saw him) against Indianapolis.”
In that 24-9 wild-card playoff victory, Ellerbe had 9 tackles, 8 of them solo, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 hit of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
Having to face Lewis, Ellerbe and Pollard changes things for Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning at least a little.
“Certainly, that’s three starters right there. That’s three excellent players, and three guys that they can do a lot of different things with,” Manning said. “Three veterans, so there’s no question that every team wants to have their starters in there, and Baltimore got healthy at the right time. It definitely made a difference for them in the playoff game on Sunday.”