PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
The Baltimore Ravens had seven players selected to this year’s Pro Bowl, the NFL announced Tuesday.
Running back Ray Rice, fullback Vonta Leach, middle linebacker Ray Lewis, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, safety Ed Reed and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will all be starters, and right guard Marshal Yanda will be a backup.
As excited as the Ravens are about the honor, they hope that none of the players end up making the trip to Honolulu for the game on Jan. 29.
“To be clear, I have no intentions of playing in the Pro Bowl,” Suggs said. “I plan on being in practice with my teammates that week, getting ready for the Super Bowl.”
The players selected to the Pro Bowl were excited about the honor, but emphasized not letting this distract them from the task ahead of them this weekend in Cincinnati.
“With the Bengals coming up this week and a push to the playoffs, we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Reed said, “but this is definitely something I am proud of and am thankful for.”
The Ravens also have five Pro Bowl alternates. Left guard Ben Grubbs is a first alternate, special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo is a second alternate, quarterback Joe Flacco and safety Bernard Pollard are third alternates, and right tackle Michael Oher is a fourth alternate.
Having seven Pro Bowlers is the second most in Ravens history (eight players selected in 2006 and 2003), and is a testament to the kind of season the Ravens are having. The selection process combines voting from the fans, coaches and players, each accounting for a third of the total vote.
Here is a closer look at this year’s class of Ravens Pro Bowlers:
Rice Hoping To Play In Indy, Not Hawaii
MLB Ray Lewis (13th Pro Bowl)
The future Hall-of-Fame linebacker is once again leading the way for the Ravens’ defense, collecting a team-high 88 tackles, despite missing four games with a toe injury. Lewis is the unquestioned leader of a defense that ranks second best against the run and third in total yards allowed. Lewis has been invited to the Pro Bowl in 13 of his 16 NFL seasons.
OLB Terrell Suggs (Fifth Pro Bowl)
For the first time in his nine-year career, Suggs has been selected to back-to-back Pro Bowls. The Defensive Player of the Year candidate has a career-high 13 sacks this season, and has been called a “game wrecker” by Head Coach John Harbaugh. He has caused problems for every opposing offense, and has 64 tackles, six forced fumbles and two interceptions to go along with his team-leading sack total.
“I definitely want to give a tremendous amount of credit to my coaches, especially Clarence Brooks and Ted Monachino,” Suggs said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I felt like a kid when I got the call; I was excited and honored.”
DT Haloti Ngata (Third Pro Bowl)
The anchor of Baltimore’s defensive line has been invited to the Pro Bowl for the third straight season. He has 60 tackles and five sacks on the year, and is a big reason why the Ravens allow just 91.8 rushing yards a game, second best in the NFL.
“It is a privilege and honor to be considered one of the best at your position among your peers, coaches and fans,” Ngata said. “When I found out, I felt the same way I did the first time I made it.”
S Ed Reed (Eighth Pro Bowl)
The Ravens safety is a virtual lock to make the Pro Bowl each year, and this marks his sixth straight invitation to game. The 10-year veteran has three interceptions and 48 tackles on the season, and is known throughout the league as one of best ball-hawking safeties in the NFL.
“It is definitely an honor and blessing,” Reed said. “To come back after an injury last year and to be voted by my peers and fans is special. I am very appreciative of this honor, but right now there are bigger goals in mind.”
RB Ray Rice (Second Pro Bowl)
The Ravens fourth-year running back leads the NFL with 1,869 yards from scrimmage and has been the motor of Baltimore’s offense. He has 1,173 rushing yards on 267 carries, and also has a team-high 74 receptions. Rice has accounted for 35 percent of the Ravens’ yards from scrimmage and leads the team with 13 touchdowns.
“This is a great honor, and I really want to thank my offensive line and coaches for helping me to become the player I am,” Rice said. “This is a team award, and I hope that everyone on our team can take pride in the fact that they helped seven of their teammates attain this honor.”
FB Vonta Leach (Second Pro Bowl)
The blocking-first fullback has been a force in the Ravens’ backfield, clearing holes for Rice and serving as a solid checkdown receiving option. In his first season with the Ravens, Leach has proven his value and has helped Rice collect 1,173 rushing yards. In turn, Rice helped his fullback gain some attention in Pro Bowl voting by starting a #LeachToTheBeach campaign on Twitter, which helped Leach win the fan vote in the final week.
“This means a lot to me, especially with it being my first year on a new team,” Leach said. “With changing teams, the lockout and trying to learn a new playbook, I am so proud and happy to be going with my backfield mate [Rice]. This is a great thing, and something to celebrate. But, that will have to wait until after the season.”
RG Marshal Yanda (First Pro Bowl)
The Ravens right guard has been a key piece for the offense, and is a big reason why Rice is also having a Pro Bowl season. The five-year veteran has been an anchor on the offensive line and has started all 15 games this year. Votes from fellow players and coaches pushed Yanda to get selected.
“I am ecstatic, that is really the only thing I can say,” Yanda said. “This is such a great honor, something that I never really expected. When I made it to the NFL, I was so happy to be on a team and playing in the league, and now, to be a part of a Pro Bowl team is something very special.”