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Ngata on the mend

7/30/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata provided the team a major scare this week when he sprained his MCL in his knee during practice. But several days later Ngata said he's optimistic he won't miss too much time.

Ngata tore his ACL during his sophomore year in college, so he knows how to deal with knee ailments. The expected prognosis for his current injury is about 2-3 weeks.

"I just don't get down on myself, stay up and focus on rehabbing and getting back and trying to help the team out," Ngata told reporters. "Right now, it's just a little minor thing, a little speed bump that I'm trying to get over. I'll be back sooner than you guys think."

The Ravens need Ngata in the lineup. He is an important cog in Baltiomre's physical and complicated scheme ran by defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. Ngata does a great job of keeping offensive linemen off linebacker Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott.

Ngata also recorded 63 tackles last year, which more than doubled his previous total of 31 tackles during his rookie year in 2006. He should be one of the breakout players to watch in the AFC North this year as long as he stays healthy.