- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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No one expects Ray Lewis to be the same Ray Lewis from a decade ago when the Ravens linebacker was the most dominant defensive player in the league. But some think Lewis is playing below his standards from the past few years.
ESPN's Ron Jaworski sees Lewis struggling in defending the run and the pass during his film study:
Lewis' movement ability has greatly decreased over the past couple of seasons, and he has struggled to make plays in space. Against Kansas City last week, Lewis showed the tendency to give ground when scraping laterally in defending the run, and when blockers approach him.
Since he reached his mid-30s, Lewis has had a track record of starting fast before fading later in the season. He currently ranks 11th in the NFL with 43 tackles. Lewis also has one sack, one forced fumble and one pass defensed.
Lewis is going to take more heat this season if the Ravens defense continues to come up short to their usual expectations. The Baltimore defense, which has always been a lock for the top 10, has slumped to No. 24 this year.
Are teams even scared of Lewis anymore? It doesn't sound like it when you hear Cowboys fullback Lawrence Vickers.
When told of Lewis' comments that the Cowboys aren't going to get their running game on track against Baltimore, Vickers told Dallas reporters, “Names don’t scare me, man. Teams don’t scare me, man. I’m a man before anything, so I let other men just talk. See me in between them lines, that’s how I get down, like that. … They’re going to have to jump me, man. They’re going to have to jump me, that’s what it’s going to be. If you go back and watch them they’re jumping me, because I’m coming with it and they know I’m coming with it just like I know they’re coming with it. Let’s meet in the lines.”
Lewis might not consistently be the playmaker he used to be. But Lewis is still a prideful player. Don't be surprised if Lewis has his best game of the season against Dallas on Sunday.