USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Ravens have been riddled with injuries, mostly on the defensive side of the ball.
However, while the Ravens defense is ranked 20th in the NFL in terms of total yards allowed (361.7 ppg), they are still 12th in what should be the only important defensive stat in the NFL - points allowed (21.4 ppg). The defense has seen so many injuries that it's hard to know the names of the starters without a program in your hand.
Between Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Bernard Pollard, Jimmy Smith, Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe have al missed significant playing time this season. Their backups are guys a lot of Ravens fans might not have ever heard of until recently and probably not prior to this season.
Corey Graham, James Ihedigbo, Josh Bynes, Chykie Brown and Omar Brown all played significant roles so far and especially in Sunday's 33-14 beatdown of the New York Giants that clinched the AFC North title for the second year in a row.
Chykie (pronounced "Shockie"), easily had his best game at cornerback, with only two tackles but four passes defensed, against high-level NFL receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Corey Graham has played solid since he was thrust into a starting role when Jimmy Smith went down to a sports hernia injury midway through the season.
Josh Bynes was signed as a rookie last year, released, re-signed and shoved into the mix as all three of the Ravens main inside linebackers (Lewis, McClain, Ellerbe) went down to injury. Safety James Ihedigbo was released by the New England Patriots with the comments that he couldn't cover and has played great whether subbing for Ed Reed or replacing the injured Pollard. He just "plays like a Raven," in tackling and hitting the opponent hard.
Rookie safety Omar Brown had an excellent pre-season, always around the ball, but was released in the team's final cuts. He was re-signed to the Practice Squad and received his first action this season Sunday, and was complimented by Ed Reed, who said he reminded him of a young Ed Reed, a player who is always around the ball.
The starters might be getting healthy at the perfect time and shortly will return to the practice and playing field, meaning less time for the replacements. At the same time,we're getting chance to see some guys who will be sticking with this team and who knows, perhaps part of the future of this defense in the years ahead. Either way, it's comforting to know that there's depth on the sidelines just incase their name or more likely, their number is called.