|Ogden could be playing finale with Ravens on Sunday|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 26 December 2007 12:40|
When the 6-foot-9, 345-pound offensive tackle walks off three hours later, it just might be for the last time.
Ogden will decide during the offseason if he wants to retire or return for a 13th NFL season. He faced a similar decision after the 2006 season before finally opting to come back.
``It's pretty much the same: How healthy do I feel; is the love and passion still there to be able to do it for a full season; what I think about where the team is headed. I'll just kind of examine those things,'' Ogden said Wednesday.
The main difference this time is that a year ago the Ravens went 13-3 and figured to be at least as good in 2007. Now they're 4-11 and will bring a nine-game losing streak into the finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
``Right now I just need a little time,'' Ogden said. ``After a year like this, people who have played one year don't want to come back. So you want to get away from it before you figure anything out.''
The losses have been difficult to take. The pain that comes from being a 33-year-old lineman has been even tougher to handle.
Ogden spent much of the offseason recovering from a hyperextended big toe, then aggravated the injury in the opening game. He sat out the next five weeks before returning, but the toe still doesn't feel right.
If Ogden knew now that he would be forced to battle injuries again in 2008, then he would already be making plans for his retirement.
``There hasn't been a day this year I haven't been in the training room. That gets a little frustrating,'' he said. ``I have to get healthy. That's the thing right now. Everyone knows about the toe, but there are so many other things that are nagging. I see what they mean about when you get older; things just linger and nag more. That's just one of the things I'm battling with, physically and mentally.''
As evidenced by his 11th consecutive Pro Bowl bid, Ogden still can obliterate oncoming defense tackles or linebackers. The question is, does he still want to dedicate himself to doing what it takes?
``Everybody enjoys playing,'' Ravens coach Brian Billick said. ``It's, 'Do I want to do these things in the upcoming offseason that I know I have to do to continue to play at a high level?'
``I think that's usually what the question always comes down to for an athlete at this point in his career going forward,'' the coach said. ``So, he'll have to address that. And that's not a question he'll have an answer for two days, three days, three weeks or a month after the season, I wouldn't think.''
It's not a question Ogden can answer now. So when he's introduced Sunday before the home fans, he will take it all in with the understanding that it just might be the last time.
``It will be great,'' Ogden mused. ``Eleven times going to Hawaii, playing on this one team. Going out against the Steelers. No matter what, I'll remember this one.''
There will come a time Sunday when Ogden will wonder if it is indeed his final game. As is his practice, though, he will focus first on winning.
``I'm just going to go out there and try to do what I do, try to have some fun. I'll worry about everything else later,'' he said. ``If this is the last one, it's been a good ride.''
Billick won't attempt to influence Ogden's decision, but he knows the Ravens are a better team with him than without him.
``Regardless of what he wants to do, coaching Jonathan Ogden has been one of the highlights of my professional career,'' Billick said. ``To be around a bona fide, guaranteed, first-ballot, Hall of Famer - you don't get that opportunity all that often.''
Notes: Running back Mike Anderson remains bothered by a hamstring injury, so Billick said Musa Smith will get his first NFL start Sunday against Pittsburgh. ...Eight players did not practice Wednesday, including RB Willis McGahee, QB Kyle Boller, LB Ray Lewis, and WR Mark Clayton.