Tough decisions ahead for Pees when Lewis returns

Tough decisions ahead for Pees when Lewis returns
November 29, 2012, 5:30 pm
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Ravens' defense getting better heading into Sunday's game

There haven’t been any Ray Lewis sightings on the practice field yet, even though he’s eligible to return from the injured list and is with the team.

When Lewis is fully recovered from his triceps tear, defensive coordinator Dean Pees will have to make some decisions.

The Ravens have managed since Oct. 14 without the 17th-year linebacker with Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and Terrell Suggs taking most of the snaps.

Ellerbe is nursing a foot and ankle injury he incurred in last week’s win at the San Diego Chargers. In the last full game before that, Ellerbe played all 72 defensive snaps vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. So did McClain.

Suggs, who returned after missing the first seven  games of the season, is playing approximately 90% of snaps now.

“(You) can’t have too many good players. I’d rather have that problem than try to figure out who the heck is going to be playing, because we have a bunch of injuries,” Pees said Thursday. “To me, it’s like when anybody says, ‘You’re kind of stockpiled at this position.’ That’s great. I don’t care where you are stockpiled. It’s always a good thing for a coach. It may not be a good thing for the players, but it’s always a good thing for the coaches.”

In his first season as the coordinator for the Ravens’ defense, Pees took over for Chuck Pagano who departed to become head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, after coaching linebackers for two seasons.

The Ravens had struggled until recently. Though statistically they're just 24th overall in defense, that's not indicative of well they're playing. They went 4-0 in November and have allowed the fewest points per game in the NFL in that span.

Pees is making it work.

"They are dominating situational football," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who has the league's top-ranked overall defense. "They are No. 1 in the league in red zone defense. They keep the scoring down. That helps you win football games."