Ngata continues to dominate

WESTMINSTER -- For the moment, the destructive force was confined to mauling a blocking sled that seemed to cry out for relief as two powerful hands triggered a loud enough recoil that the sound resonated across the football field. Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was only warming up, though.

Between his rare combination of brute strength, nimble feet and massive size, Ngata is a nightmare for offensive linemen to deal with.

Simply put, Ngata is an absolute beast.

And the 6-foot-4, 345-pound Salt Lake City native has demonstrated his physical prowess again and again at training camp by abusing blockers while busting through gaps with his quickness or just simply overpowering linemen at the point of attack.

Although it's such a demanding game, especially in the trenches, Ngata tends to make it look easy with his natural skills and athleticism.

"Haloti has got so much power, and he's really, really quick for how big he is," Ravens offensive guard Marshal Yanda said. "Most big guys aren't as quick as him, but he's got the size and he can move. That makes him even harder to deal with.

"He'll run right over you, too. With a big guy like him, you've really got to stay low and keep a good, sound base. He's a hell of a player. I'm just glad he's on our team."

As a former rugby player, Ngata is adept at turning the line of scrimmage into his own personal scrum.

In three NFL seasons, the former first-round draft pick from Oregon has never missed a start while emerging as one of the top defensive linemen in the league.

"Everybody knows about Haloti in football, and I'm sure fans know about Haloti now," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's going to be a dominant tackle for many years to come."

For his career, Ngata has registered 222 career tackles, five sacks, three interceptions and one forced fumble.

Last season, he posted 77 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and five pass deflections for the league's second-ranked defense.

Yet, being named to the Pro Bowl has eluded Ngata despite a strong reputation in league circles for being an elite player. Last year, he was named an alternate to the league's annual all- star game. A lack of popularity in fan balloting affected his prospects.

If the Pro Bowl snubs offend Ngata, he hasn't let it show. Named second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press last year, Ngata isn't concerned about being shut out from the Pro Bowl in the future.

"I feel like I can get there," Ngata said. "That's not a problem. It doesn't bother me at all that they've had other guys over there. I'm working as hard as I can. Hopefully, I can make it over there, too."

When Ngata, 25, was younger, he tended to study several defensive linemen to try to master their strategy and techniques.

In Baltimore, he's constantly watching nose guard Kelly Gregg apply the leverage game better than most interior defensive linemen.

"I think we have the best here in Kelly Gregg," Ngata said. "I watch him all the time and learn from him."

Last season, Ngata was unblockable at times.

And he surprised the Houston Texans with his ability to backpedal into coverage, retreating into the end zone to snag an errant pass to halt a red-zone threat.

"I think my quickness for a big guy is big," Ngata said. "I hope I can use it and my size."

In the AFC championship game, Ngata registered his first career sack in the playoffs by tackling elusive Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the backfield.

Now, he's intent on building on three strong seasons with another stellar campaign.

"Definitely, that's what I'm always working toward is getting better," Ngata said. "Hopefully, great things are ahead."

Those great things could include seeing some action on offense again this season after lining up as a blocking tight end last season.

Ngata has been lobbying to touch the football as a runner or a receiver.

"Give me the rock," he said with a smile. "I like when they put me in there. I enjoy it."

Signed to a five-year, $11.9 million contract in 2006 following a brief holdout, Ngata is expected to be the next player the Ravens look to lock up to a long-term deal now that Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has been secured with a six-year, $62.5 million deal.

On most NFL defenses, Ngata would likely be an even bigger name. In Baltimore, though, he's routinely overshadowed due to the star power of middle linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed and Suggs.

Modest and quiet, Ngata doesn't mind that he's not a household name.

"Oh definitely, those guys worked so hard to get where they are," Ngata said. "I'm not going to take anything away from them. Hopefully, I can get my name out there, too."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Notebook: Terry out for year, to go on IR and20undergo surgerySmith, Figurs return to practice By Aaron Wilson

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Adam Terry's season is over before it ever really began due to a chronic right knee problem that will likely need microfracture surgery to repair the damage, a condition that will force him to be placed on injured reserve.

The surgery is expected to be performed as soon as early next week, according to Terry's representatives.

"It just looks right now that he's got some new issues with the knee from a healing perspective," Raven coach John Harbaugh said. "So, he's going to have to undergo some more procedures to get that thing right. So, it looks like he's going to be out for the year."

Terry, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the offseason after starting seven games last year, was expected to compete with rookie first-round pick Michael Oher for the starting right tackle job. Now, the job belongs exclusively to Oher unless he falters or gets hurt.

It's a significant blow to an offensive line in need of depth, and it prompted the Ravens to immediately work out two offensive linemen Tuesday with an eye toward signing one possibly as soon as today depending on the results of a physical.

And the Ravens are going to evaluate second-year offensive tackle Oniel Cousins as well as Joe Reitz and will deploy right guard Marshal Yanda at his old right tackle spot at times.

"Adam is bummed out," said Yanda, Terry's roommate at training camp. "We're definitely going to miss him, but you can't control injuries. Adam worked hard to get back and he's going to battle through this with a positive attitude. He's got to stay positive and we've got to move on.

"It's a tough deal. The mentality is, 'Next guy up.' When a guy goes down, you've got to step up and do your job. Someone will definitely do that."

Yanda is the most proven insurance policy if Oher doesn't pan out immediately. So far, Oher is off to a fast start as he makes the transition to the NFL.

"It's going to play out," Harbaugh said. "Some of these young guys need to develop, Oniel Cousins being a big part of that. Obviously, the Marshal Yanda factor helps us a lot because it adds depth as Marshal is really coming on from a health standpoint.

"But we're sure going to be looking at tackles. Now, we need another tackle in camp, at least, to be able to operate practice. From there, we'll have to see as far making the 53-man roster."

INJURY UPDATES: Tight end L.J. Smith practiced for the first time since injuring his hamstring last week, but isn't quite up to full speed yet.

"I ran a little bit," Smith said. "I didn't do everything, but I'm coming al ong every day. I've been improving. You just want to be careful with it. By the end of the week, hopefully I should be doing everything.

"It's a long season. I feel bad because my tight ends are out there working. I wish I could be out there, but I have to be careful because they have some packages designed with me in them and they're going to need me to be healthy."

Wide receiver Yamon Figurs returned to practice after being activated from the physically unable to perform list. Figurs had surgery this offseason after breaking his right foot.

"It feels pretty good," Figurs said. "They worked me a little bit, and they're going to ease me on in there. I'm really playing catch-up right now."

A former high school track and field star in Florida, Figurs said that he hasn't lost his speed.

"Maybe I'm even faster," Figurs said. "4.2."

Besides Terry, wide receiver Mark Clayton (left hamstring) and cornerback Samari Rolle (neck and groin), the following players didn't practice: linebackers Terrell Suggs (strained left heel), Antwan Barnes (concussion) and Brendon Ayanbadejo (toe sprain), tight end Davon Drew (right ankle), defensive tackle Lamar Divens (hip) as well as offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers and wide receivers Thomas White and Biren Ealy for undisclosed reasons.

Barnes said that he's experiencing minor headaches following the concussion suffered Sunday.

Offensive guard Ben Grubbs and tight end Edgar Jones returned to practice after leaving the fiel d briefly for treatment.

Safety Tom Zbikowski was sidelined in the morning practice after getting hit in a sensitive area.

"I got kneed in the reproductive area," Zbikowski said. "I don't know how long it will take for me to get back out there. I'm pretty sore right now. I don't think I'll be out long. If it was a head injury, I'd be out there sooner."

QUICK HITS: Wide receiver Kelley Washington electrified and amused the crowd after catching a touchdown pass from Troy Smith by performing a convincing rendition of middle linebacker Ray Lewis' signature dance. Lewis seemed to appreciate the good-natured ribbing. ... Smith lined up at wide receiver in a red-zone drill, but didn't catch Joe Flacco's fade pass. "Troy's a football player," Harbaugh said. "I want to emphasize this again: We do a good job of moving guys around. To make too much of Troy playing receiver, we move guys back and forth all the time. I know it's a story because he's a quarterback. Troy is a quarterback. He can play, and he's throwing the ball really well."... Rookie kicker Graham Gano converted all of his field goal attempts with Steve Hauschka missing one from nearly 50 yards wide of the right goalpost. "Neither one has an edge," Harbaugh said. "They're kicking about the same, percentage-wise. They're making the most of their kicks. I think they're up around 90-plus percent. We'll see in games."... Justin Harper is emerging as a dangerous threat in the red zone, catching several lobs from Smith over th e past few days.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Clayton could be out a few weeks with leg injury

By Daniel Henderson

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens starting wide receiver Mark Clayton could be sidelined for as long as a few weeks, in his estimation, while he recovers from an injured left hamstring. Clayton hasn't been practicing for the past two days after tweaking his hamstring Sunday morning at McDaniel College.

"Realistically, I don't know," Clayton said when asked about the timetable for=2 0his=2 0return. "A couple of weeks, I don't know. Just as it goes."

The fifth-year wide receiver tweaked his left hamstring and was carted off the field during Sunday morning's practice. Clayton was adamant that he hasn't torn the hamstring, which is the same one that has bothered him off and on since entering the NFL.

Clayton is taking precautions with his hamstring injury while he's not practicing and does not believe that he should return before he is fully healed.

"It's sensitive," said Clayton. "We know right now it is preseason and we know how important it is. I'm taking it day by day. But, at the same time, to not be able to do anything, especially as a receiver, to not be able to run full speed and show speed, it limits you, and will limit our offense."

And Clayton realizes the significance of his recovery considering that the team needs him on the field.

"I want to get back out as soon as possible because it's so important to get reps on the field," Clayton said. "I mean the practice is pretty much where you build your chemistry and you build whatever it is you're trying to work toward, of course, offensively. So, I'm just doing the little things to get back on the field as soon as possible."

The former first-round pick out of Oklahoma finished second on the team with 41 receptions for 695 yards and three touchdowns last year. He's headed into this season with 200 career receptions for 2,636 total receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.

Since he's been sidelined, Clayton has witnessed Demetrius Williams move up as the Ravens' second wideout behind veteran Derrick Mason. And it's doesn't bother him to see Williams and some of the other younger guys gain more reps on the field since his injury.

Clayton uses his time off the field to aid them with his veteran knowledge.

"I mean I want our younger guys to be better than me," Clayton said. "That's the goal for everybody to get better than whomever it is that's in front of them.

"So when I'm out, I'm trying to help someone else get better at whatever it is that they are doing, and likewise someone will be trying to help me. And that's just what we do as a team and how we grow as a team."


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