The list of players on the defensive side of the ball on the Baltimore Ravens reads like a revolving door this season. The Ravens defense has lost almost half of its starters at some point this season, be it for the entire year (Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb), for huge chunks (Terrell Suggs), or for a game or two (Pernell McPhee, Haloti Ngata, Jimmy Smith).
In the NFL, injuries are part of the game and therefore, the normal phase heard uttered whenever this happens is, "next man up." Baltimore is no different as a plethora of guys have had their shot at stepping up and earning additional playing time. When Suggs went down long before the season started, rookie Courtney Upshaw and veteran Albert McClellan were shoved into the starting role at some point.
When Ray Lewis and Lardaius Webb were lost to season-ending injuries, that opened the door for Dannell Ellerbe and Jimmy Smith, respectively. When Smith sat out last week's win over the Oakland Raiders, Corey Graham played in his place and played well. Same for Haloti Ngata being held out and Bryan Hall stepped up in his place.
Questions remain about the health of Ed Reed, so the team acquired James Ihedigbo as insurance, and he was needed last week when Reed re-injured his shoulder. The team has proved it is deep in plugging guys in where needed, but at some point the starters will hopefully return other than those out for the season.
In the meantime, these "expendables" will continue to step up and do their jobs when called upon, which is a tribute to the coaching staff who has prepared these guys to do their jobs regardless of the number on the back of the jersey.