|Ray Lewis likely out means Seahawks must again manufacture emotion for woeful foe|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 22 December 2007 01:10|
``Do we know Lewis isn't playing?'' Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said Friday of the nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL defensive player of the year, sounding hopeful.
Nick Greisen will start for Lewis. Lewis is officially listed as questionable, but Ravens coach Brian Billick said ``it doesn't look good'' after Lewis missed a third consecutive practice with a dislocated finger that split a knuckle on his left hand in last weekend's loss at Miami and required stitches.
``First of all, Ray Lewis is one of the best players I have ever seen in my life,'' the 59-year-old Holmgren said.
``Last week, we lost a football game to a quarterback (Carolina's Matt Moore) who had never played before. So, I think you have to be real careful about thinking about those things too much - if at all.''
Holmgren has been telling anyone within earshot this week that he wants more emotion from his NFC West champions. They were mostly flat while losing 13-10 to the Panthers in a lifeless stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Seattle did not score a touchdown until 1 second remained and its five-game winning streak came to a thudding end.
Now the Seahawks (9-5) get the woeful Ravens (4-10), losers of eight straight.
Baltimore will be giving rookie quarterback Troy Smith his first start because Kyle Boller has a concussion and Steve McNair is on injured reserve. The Ravens will also be missing Samari Rolle, who joined fellow starting cornerback Chris McAlister on injured reserve Friday. Rookie cornerback Willie Gaston and Corey Ivy will start for them. Baltimore will also likely to be without starting tight end Todd Heap, who is doubtful with a strained hamstring. He'll likely be replaced by Quinn Sypniewski.
Next week, Seattle, currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs, plays the Atlanta Falcons (3-11).
Not exactly the best way to motivate a team that has little to play for, since they are assured of hosting a first-round playoff game next month.
``The key will be the emotion,'' Holmgren said. ``Honestly, each individual player has to decide how he is going to do that.
``Now, we have to get the energy going.''
The players who were trying to figure out how to block Lewis hadn't heard that he probably won't play. Good news?
``I think so. He's a great player. His reputation speaks for itself,'' said left guard Rob Sims, who was going to face Lewis for the first time while continuing to share snaps with veteran Floyd Womack.
``But I'm the type of guy who loves to play against the best.''
The Ravens are far from that right now. Their smash-mouth defense has lost its punch, especially without Lewis.
``He's like having another coach on the field,'' said Baltimore outside linebacker Bart Scott, who expects Lewis to miss next week's season finale, too. ``What you lose is formation recognition, play recognition, experience of being in certain situation, knowing tendencies.
But Scott had a caution for the Seahawks.
``If anything, they should know that this team is always dangerous, always had a lot of good players,'' he said. ``You don't just go from 13-3, then the next year be 4-12, whatever we are, and still be a bad team.
``We still have a lot of those good players, and any week we're always capable.''
That's also the thinking of Walter Jones, Seattle's Pro Bowl left tackle. Told Lewis was likely out, Jones dismissed that by blowing air through his lips to make a scoffing, sputtering sound.
``I don't know, man. They've still got a lot of good guys on that defense,'' Jones said. ``They are very aggressive, man. They come after you.''
Notes: Starting WR D.J. Hackett (sprained ankle) practiced with the scout team. Holmgren said it was unlikely Hackett would play for the first time in four games on Sunday but added ``he's close'' to returning. ... The Seahawks listed starting DT Rocky Bernard as questionable with a strained groin that has kept him from practicing for weeks but not from playing. Holmgren said Bernard is likely to play again against the Ravens. ``Rocky's on the veteran plan. Free lunches. Free dinners. Play on Sunday,'' Holmgren said, grinning. ``I never question him ... he's hurting and he gives us what he can.''