(Updated: 9:00 a.m.)
Only reinforcing the argument held by many against playing the Pro Bowl, the Ravens have now seen four of their selections bow out of Sunday’s game as Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed have joined Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice as non-participants in Honolulu.
Ngata admitted after the AFC championship game that he was dealing with a thigh injury for the second half of the season. The injury occurred in the Ravens’ Week 8 loss over the Arizona Cardinals and limited him in practices leading up to their road win in Pittsburgh the following week. There was a noticeable drop-off in Ngata’s performance after a monstrous start to the season in which the 330-pound defensive lineman was garnering Defensive Player of the Year consideration along with Suggs.
The 33-year-old Reed will also skip the game due to injury as it’s no secret a shoulder injury has severely impaired the safety’s ability to tackle. The 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year has dealt with a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder as well as a hip injury in recent seasons. Reed has been replaced by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark on the AFC roster.
Suggs has also bowed out of the game due to injury, but it’s unclear what exactly is ailing the 29-year-old linebacker. Though he was honored to be named to his fifth Pro Bowl in late December, Suggs made it no secret he had little interest in going to Honolulu at the expense of the Ravens’ desire to reach the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
Rice cited a family reason for his absence from the Pro Bowl. The running back led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011.
Linebacker Ray Lewis, fullback Vonta Leach, and guards Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs remain on the AFC roster as of Wednesday morning. Grubbs was named the replacement for Patriots guard Logan Mankins earlier this week since New England will play in next week’s Super Bowl. With New England guard Brian Waters also ineligible for the game, Yanda and Grubbs will be the starting guards on the AFC offensive line.
According to the official NFC and AFC rosters on NFL.com, 16 players have been replaced due to “injury” reasons. Of course, some players have legitimate ailments, but many have simply bailed on the exhibition in what’s become a regular practice in recent seasons.
With the Ravens’ eight selections now down to four, what are your thoughts on the Pro Bowl?
With increasing numbers of players skipping the game every season, should the NFL simply name the teams and forgo holding the game?
Do you ever watch the game, regardless of how many Ravens are playing in the game?