There are a lot of comparisons to be made between Baltimore Ravens veteran middle linebacker Ray Lewis and the 49ers' Patrick Willis.Lewis earned trips to 12 Pro Bowls in his first 15 seasons and has two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards on his resume.Willis has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. And, this year, he has led a dominating 49ers defense and is a strong candidate for the honor of the league's top defensive player.But one comparison that had not been made prior to this season is in the area of motivational speaking. Lewis has long been the Ravens player who gets his teammates fired up with an impassioned pregame talk.And this season Willis is letting more than just his actions do the talking.
For several weeks, Willis has offered inspirational words to his teammates after pregame warmups. Willis said several players took turns talking to the team early in the season before it became a regular gig for Willis."Anybody on our team is capable of doing that," Willis said. "They just let me get up there and say what I wanted to say. . . . A lot of times, it's just spur of the moment, what I'm feeling. I'm not the type of person to sit at home and think about the best thing to say. What I feel is what I give."Lewis' availability for Thursday's game is in question due to a foot injury. He missed last week's Ravens game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he has been limited in practice this week.