The loss of inside linebacker Ray Lewis to a torn right triceps suffered in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-29 win against the Dallas Cowboys saps the Ravens of their leading tackler and emotional sparkplug.

But according to a pair of NFL Network analysts, the defense should fare fine even without the 13-time Pro Bowler.

Speaking on "Thursday Night Kickoff," former St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk pointed out that the unit hasn't been exactly suffocating through the first six games of the season and that was with Lewis in the starting lineup.

"With Ray Lewis, they were an average defense in [allowing] points and yards. They can survive," Faulk said.

Faulk's colleague, Michael Irvin, said he has faith in Jameel McClain, who is 10 years younger than the 37-year-old Lewis.

"[Linebacker Jameel McClain] is going to be physically better than Ray Lewis," the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver said.

Lewis has not spoken with the media about his injury or his future plans, which have been a source of seemingly endless speculation. But defensive tackle Haloti Ngata told the NFL Network that he thinks Lewis will return for his 18th season.

"I believe and he believes he will be back," Ngata said during the interview, a portion of which was aired at halftime of Thursday night's game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. "Just knowing him, talking to him a day ago, [he was saying] 'I'll be back don't worry' Once he said, I already knew that I have faith he will be back, tell me where to go and push me back."