Continuing a pattern from last week, Ray Lewis has been present during the portion of this week’s practices open to the media. But the 13-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker is still on the injured reserve list with a designation to return, which is why defensive coordinator Dean Pees isn’t making any assurances about Lewis’ return for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
“It’d be great to have him back,” Pees said after Thursday’s practice. “I said that a couple weeks ago when we first started kind of seeing him come back. I’d love to have him back. I think it’d be a great emotional lift. But more than that, we could use some bodies in there, too, at linebacker. We’ll just have to wait and see whatever they say is a go, but we’d love to have him back.”
Without Lewis, Jameel McClain (spinal cord contusion) and Dannell Ellerbe (sprained right ankle/left foot), the defense started Josh Bynes and Brendon Ayanbadejo in last Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
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Bynes, an undrafted rookie last season, manned the Mike linebacker spot previously occupied by Lewis and McClain. If Ellerbe sits out his fourth consecutive game, Bynes would make his second career start.
“If it happens, it happens,” Bynes said. “I’m anticipating whatever. I prepare every game like I’m going to be a starter. Even with me knowing that I’m not going to play, I still prepare each and every week like I’m going to be a starter because you never know – just like what happened Sunday – when your time is going to come.”
Pees didn’t get into the specifics of what Lewis is doing in practice, but he said that Lewis has looked like, well, Lewis.
“At this time of the year, I don’t think there’s very many teams out there hitting like you do in training camp. So you don’t necessarily see the physical part,” Pees said. “But the mental part, that’s not going to leave you after 17 years missing a couple weeks. So he’s there.”