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Saturday, December 22, 2012
Has Baltimore seen the last of Ray Lewis?

By Jamison Hensley

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis isn't expected to play in the final two games of the regular season, but still has a chance of coming back for the postseason, according to a report on NFL.com. The Ravens made it official Saturday that Lewis won't play this weekend when they used their open roster spot on promoting linebacker Adrian Hamilton from the practice squad.

This all leads to a bigger question: Have Ravens fans seen Lewis for the last time in Baltimore?

Sunday's game against the Giants is the final regular-season home game for the Ravens. If the slumping Ravens, who have lost three in a row, continue to lose, they could be a wild-card team in the AFC playoffs and play their first-round game on the road. So, considering the possibility of Lewis retiring at the end of the season or the Ravens releasing him, Lewis might have played his final down in Baltimore in a Ravens uniform when he tore his triceps on Oct. 14.

My take is Lewis hasn't played his final game at M&T Bank Stadium. Lewis isn't the type of player who will want to be remembered for being banged up in his final NFL season, and the Ravens still can use his leadership, especially if safety Ed Reed leaves in free agency.

Working against Lewis is his age and salary. Lewis said last summer that he could see himself playing past the age of 37. He turns 38 in May. There's also the fact that Lewis will make $5.4 million in 2013. The Ravens could create much-needed cap room by cutting Lewis, especially if the plan is to put the franchise tag on quarterback Joe Flacco.

But the immediate concern for the Ravens is Sunday against the Giants. The Ravens will be without both inside linebackers that started the season for them. Jameel McClain was placed on injured reserve this week with a neck injury. If Dannell Ellerbe can't play -- he's a game-time decision with an ankle injury -- the Ravens will start Josh Bynes and Brendon Ayanbadejo at inside linebacker.