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Mike Preston's final grades: Defensive line & linebackers

Final grades of the 2009 season. The complete grades will run in Friday's Baltimore Sun:

DEFENSIVE LINE: Once they rebounded from injuries, tackles Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata were once again two of the best run stoppers in the league. The Ravens also need to re-sign tackle Justin Bannan, a starter for most teams in the NFL and a character guy for the locker room. End Dwan Edwards stepped up big time in relief for veteran Trevor Pryce, who probably played his last game here. It was a disappointing season for end Terrell Suggs, but the good news is that he will remain in Baltimore for the offseason, which can only help a player who has enormous potential. The Ravens need to find an athletic tackle that can play against the run and rush the passer. Grade: B.

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LINEBACKERS: Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson played at a Pro Bowl level, but like all the Ravens linebackers, he needs to improve in pass coverage. Inside linebacker Ray Lewis had another good season, but has become a liability in passing situations. The Ravens may have found a gem in rookie Dannell Ellerbe. Overall, the Ravens have to be happy with the depth at this group especially with Brandon Ayanbadejo returning from a leg injury. Backup inside linebacker Tavares Gooden has to get bigger, stronger and tougher during the off season. He already has the wheels. Grade: B.

-- Mike Preston

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Next: Secondary and special teams

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