Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ngata: Title-game loss 'took a lot out of me'

  May 15, 2012, 4:27 pm
The 2011 season was a memorable one for Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. He signed a five-year, $61 million contract, one of pro football’s largest, shortly after the season began.

He also helped the Ravens get within a couple of botched plays of a trip to the Super Bowl, which would have been a first for Ngata.

But he dealt with a thigh injury throughout the second half of the season, and of course, the Ravens’ campaign abruptly ended with a crushing loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.

After all those highs and crushing lows, Ngata was exhausted.

“That game definitely took a lot of emotion out of me,” Ngata said in an interview posted on the Ravens’ official website Tuesday. “I just took a full month off. It felt good to just kind of get some rest and get my mind right."

Even though he earned his third Pro Bowl selection while totaling 65 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles,“this year was probably the hardest, the worst I’ve felt at the end of the season," he said. "We went further (in the playoffs) and I think I played more snaps this year than other years. This past season took a lot out of me. And that loss just kind of sucked, so it took a little bit more.”

Ngata confirmed that, as Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome stated two months ago, he underwent a procedure after the season to repair the thigh injury. He feels “really good” now, he told the team site, and anticipates adding 10 pounds of playing weight in 2012. That would put him at 340.

“I think I could probably push the pocket better with a little more weight,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

As for the loss of linebacker Terrell Suggs, who will miss four to six months with an Achilles injury, Ngata said, “Suggs is irreplaceable. There’s no one in this world that can replace Terrell. But I think coach Harbaugh said it best: the next guy up has to do his best to replace him.

“I think we’re always going to be a great defense. A lot of it has to do with the veterans helping out the rookies as much as they can, and the rookies doing their best trying to fill in that spot. I think we have a lot of guys that could do well. We’ll see what goes on during camp. Hopefully we can get back to the AFC championship again and this time get to the Super Bowl.”

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