OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) returned to practice Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s AFC Wild Card playoff battle with the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) at Arrowhead Stadium.
DT Haloti Ngata was announced Wednesday as the Ravens 2010 Most Valuable Player award, as voted on by media members who cover the team on a daily basis. (This columnist was amongst those who voted for Ngata.)
Ngata set a career high with 5.5 sacks this season and tied career highs with 63 tackles and 5 pass deflections.
“That’s pretty cool” said Ngata after being informed he had won. “I felt like this year has been a little different just with my pass rush, I felt like I got a little better there. Hopefully I can continue to improve and just get better. Hopefully I can be around (Baltimore) more often, because I love being here, I love the guys, I love the fans.”
Ngata will be an important factor as the Ravens go up against the league’s top rushing offense (164.2 yards per game) Sunday in KC.
“(They’re a) great running team, I think everybody knows that” said Ngata. “Their O-Linemen (are) experienced, they’ve got a lot of guys who have been around and they do well moving guys around. Hopefully we can do what we want to do and stop the run first and make them a one dimensional team.”
Ngata was an important cog for a Ravens defense that was pretty good against the run (ranked 5th in the NFL), allowing just 93.9 yards per game.
“We love when teams like to run” added Ngata. “If we can take away their best thing, that’s an advantage for us.”
The Chiefs finished the year with two backs amongst the Top 20 in rushing in the league. RB Jamaal Charles (who finished 2nd in the league with 1,467 yards to go with give touchdowns) is somewhat similar to Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson according to Ngata.
“(He’s) just real shifty and quick to the hole. He’s just so fast and quick, he does a lot of things really well. He definitely is different from last year.”
Chiefs RB Thomas Jones also ranked in the Top 20 amongst the league’s rushing leaders; finishing with 896 yards and 6 TD’s.
“Jones is a little bigger” said Ngata. “I think he’s able to hit between the tackles a little bit better. He’s a little bit more patient than Charles.”
In their 2009 matchup at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens allowed the Chiefs just 29 yards rushing, including only 8 yards for Charles.
Ngata succeeds RB Ray Rice, who was voted the team’s MVP in 2009.
CARR NAMED “GOOD GUY”: In addition to Team MVP, reporters covering the team on a daily basis also voted a winner of the annual “Media Good Guy” award.
CB Chris Carr was announced as the winner of the award for the 2010 season Wednesday.
“If I won, everybody else must be pretty bad” Carr joked. “I understand that the fans want to hear truth. I try never to lie. Maybe I won’t say how I really feel, but I won’t go up there and give a lie to you guys. I always try to be insightful and truthful to everybody because fans want to hear stuff. They want to be honest and they want accountability as well. I just try to do that every week.
LB Jarret Johnson had received the award in 2009.
INJURY REPORT: Four Ravens did not participate in practice Wednesday.
C Matt Birk (knee), LB Terrell Suggs (knee), S Ed Reed (chest) and Ngata (thigh) were all held out. None are believed to be in serious jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game.
S Tom Zbikowski (back) returned to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early. He was one of five Ravens who were limited participants in practice. LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (back) and CB Josh Wilson (head) were also limited participants.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said he’s “optimistic” Zbikowski can see the field Sunday.
WR/KR David Reed (wrist/head) was a full participant in practice Wednesday; he hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints. WR Derrick Mason (abs/ankle) and OT Michael Oher (knee/ankle) were also full participants.
Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (illness) missed practice Wednesday. Head Coach Todd Haley did not seem concerned about Bowe’s Sunday status during his Wednesday conference call with Charm City reporters.
Chiefs G Brian Waters (illness) also missed practice Wednesday.
NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Ngata, Carr, Rice, QB Joe Flacco and LB Ray Lewis now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Jim Nantz will call Sunday’s game for CBS, he joined Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST. That chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……CB Cary Williams is scheduled to join Forrester Thursday at 7:15am……The Ravens will return to practice Thursday, Coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg are scheduled to meet with the media