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Every year, people ask how much Ray Lewis has left in the tank.
According to Ravens Linebackers Coach Dean Pees, Lewis played in an amazing 1,111 snaps in 2010, missing only five throughout his entire 15th season.
The fact that he was voted to his 12th Pro Bowl this year, is a testament to Lewis’ longevity.
“We chewed him out when he came out for that, for missing five plays,” new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano said with a laugh on Wednesday. “If you stay in this league and you play at the level that he’s played at for 15 years, [it's] because of your due diligence in the weight room in the offseason, watching tape and taking care of yourself.
“He’s taken great care of his body, and he understands that his body is his earning power and what’s made him.”
Not only did Lewis maintain his grasp on the hearts of the Ravens’ locker room, he led the team in tackles for the 13th year.
Lewis posted 145 stops and added two interceptions (one for a touchdown), two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Pagano, who was speaking at his introductory press conference, remembered when he first joined the Ravens in 2008. In the first team meeting, veteran quarterback Steve McNair announced that he was retiring. The next day, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden hung up his cleats.
So, when Lewis wanted to address the team in a meeting after the Ravens were ousted from the playoffs last weekend, Pagano’s heart skipped a beat.
“Ray said [on Monday], ‘Can I say something?’” Pagano recalled, just days after Baltimore fell 31-24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I know everybody’s heart probably dropped, coming off the heels of that disappointing [loss]. There wasn’t a more disappointing loss, for any man in this room and on this team, than that last one. You don’t have any idea when you went in that locker room and you looked in the eyes of these men of how they felt and what they had poured into this season, only to be set back again.
“But, when he got up, and I said, ‘Oh, here we go.’ I said, ‘Clarence [Brooks, Defensive Line Coach], oh please dear God, don’t let this man retire.’”