Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata walked off the practice field following the team’s first mandatory mini-camp Tuesday and received treatment prior to speaking with the media.
Due to the fact that a celebration ensued immediately after Super Bowl XLVII concluded, many forget that Ngata suffered a sprained knee, and was unable to participate in the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history.
Receiving treatments for his knee or other various extremities has become second nature for Ngata – almost as common as brushing his teeth.
Throughout the years, Ngata’s offseason conditioning has been a cause for concern, but at a time where the team will need him the most, Ngata reported to mini-camp with a very encouraging figure.
“He’s in good shape,” head coach John Harbaugh said of Ngata. “He’s right where he needs to be at this time.”
Still recovering from his knee injury, Ngata has attributed his conditioning to running, not riding a bike or using an elliptical machine. Even though none of his injuries from last season required surgery, it was difficult for Ngata to play through the pain.
“It’s been real tough,” he said. “Especially towards the end of the season, it just limited me.”
“What I wanted to do was be an explosive player, and not being able to really come off or getting off blocks well, it definitely was tough towards the end of the season, but you just fight through it.”
The Ravens front office has made no qualms about using Ngata as its centerpiece for the overhaul on the defensive side of the ball. Certainly more pressure will be placed on Ngata, but his main focus is to be, by late July, better than the “80-85 percent” he stated he felt right now.
“I just want to come in in great shape,” Ngata said. “After this minicamp, these next five weeks are going to be really important for me to make sure I’m in really good shape to come in and participate in camp.”
When healthy, Ngata is undoubtedly one of the premier players in the NFL; however, his body has been his worst enemy at times. Undergoing proper treatments and minimizing early wear and tear on his body, Ngata should be poised to return to his previous dominant form.
“The healthier he is, the better he is going to be,” Harbaugh said. “It looks to me like he’s had a good offseason, and he’s right on schedule.”
Hearing that Ngata is “right on schedule” should be music to any fan’s ears, but should be even more encouraging to a team that will try to repeat as Super Bowl champions while replacing seven starters on defense.
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