Ngata glad to finally catch a break

Ngata glad to finally catch a break
November 12, 2012, 6:45 pm
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The only work for Haloti Ngata came via a stationary bicycle on the sideline.

The 340-pound defensive tackle for the Ravens, who has been hampered by a bad shoulder for weeks, never took the field in Sunday’s 55-20 rout of the Oakland Raiders.

He was held out of practice, too, and his production had been in steep decline since the season began. Ngata also has dealt with a knee ligament injury.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was a late scratch for the Ravens. He has been dealing with a groin injury for several weeks and it tightened up before kickoff. He declined comment on his way out of the locker room Sunday.

“I just wanted to stay loose in case anything was going to happen. That’s it,” said Ngata, who watched the Ravens take a 27-10 lead at halftime. “I expected to play but decided that if they needed me I would’ve went out. …

“I wasn’t needed to play. It was perfect.”

Corey Graham played 74 snaps, or 99%, in place of Smith. Rookie DeAngelo Tyson, a seventh-round draft pick who didn’t play a snap for the first six games, got the start and played 30 snaps (40%). Bryan Hall, who like Tyson was playing for just the second time this season, played 29 snaps (39%). For the second week in a row, Arthur Jones started while defensive end Pernell McPhee didn’t play because of a thigh injury.

Ngata played 53 defensive snaps, 76%, in a 25-15 win at the Cleveland Browns a week ago but struggled.

"We felt like it would be smart to dress him because he is a difference-maker for us,” coach John Harbaugh explained. “We started the game out and we were hoping that we wouldn’t have to play him. … It was just the way the game went.”

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees juggled his lineup, using more outside linebackers and showing a 4-3 front. Albert McClellan, for instance only played 15 snaps against Cleveland but tallied 31 snaps, or 41%, Sunday. Hall had been inactive for the Cleveland game after playing for the first time vs. the Houston Texans before the bye week.

Gambling on younger players paid off. Getting Ngata healthy for Sunday’s crucial AFC North game at the Pittsburgh Steelers is paramount.

“It’s definitely huge to get the extra rest and heal and hopefully have a good week,” Ngata said.