By Mike Preston
6:00 AM EST, December 19, 2011
Is Ray Lewis too old?
That is a question I will be asked numerous times before the Ravens play Cleveland here Sunday. In all honesty, I've wondered that myself lately. I thought he played the worst game of his career against Seattle several weeks ago. That was the game in which he first suffered turf toe.
He returned to action Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, and I didn't see much improvement from his performance against Seattle. But few of the Ravens played well, so I'm not at the point yet where I think he "might be over the hill."
Every time I think Lewis is finished or even close, he finds some thing in that reserve tank. It's remarkable that he is still playing the game at such a high level after 16 years in the NFL. After watching Lewis play against the Chargers, I think the Ravens still owe him one or two more games to show that his toe is completely healed and that he won't become a liability.
If I were head coach John Harbaugh, I think this would be the perfect time to get Lewis off the field in third down or passing situations if the Ravens aren't going to use him as a pass rusher. Lewis has become a liability in pass coverage except for the times when he can jump a slot receiver or running back coming off the edge.
But it's a tough situation for everyone involved. It's a sensitive issue for a coach who has been here only four years and for player who has been so great for so long and given so much to the city. In the next week or two, I think it's time for both Lewis and the coaching staff to sit down and find out what is best for the Ravens heading into the post season. It's about that time. After 16 years, two more weeks isn't a lot to ask for in return.
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