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Ravens to honor Super Bowl champions Haloti Ngata, coach Brian Billick in Ring of Honor

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Ravens to honor Super Bowl champions Haloti Ngata, coach Brian Billick in Ring of Honor

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- On a day designed to honor Haloti Ngata's retirement as a member of the Ravens, his former coach in Baltimore stole a portion of the limelight.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti welcomed both Ngata and Brian Billick into the team's prestigious Ring of Honor, announcing Wednesday that Billick will be inducted in 2019 and Ngata in 2020.

Ngata was drafted out of Oregon as the 12th overall pick in 2006. The first NFL coach he played for was Billick, who guided the Ravens from 1999-2007 and hoisted the Super Bowl trophy after the 2000 season.

Billick compiled an 80-64 record but was fired by Bisciotti after Baltimore staggered to a 5-11 finish in 2007. It took 12 years, but Bisciotti figured the time was right to finally recognize the 65-year-old Billick for his contribution to the franchise.

"I told Brian how honored we would be, and how lucky we are as an organization, to have had him here," Bisciotti said.

Ngata, 35, will also have his name emblazoned on the Ravens' home stadium, a suitable salute to a five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle who made a name for himself on a defense that included future Hall of Fame entrants Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

As a star-struck rookie, Ngata recalled with a chuckle his first encounter with Lewis at training camp.

"Ray said, `I called you, you didn't answer, what's up?' I froze, I didn't know what to say, you know, when you meet your heroes," Ngata said. "I just told him, `I'm so sorry, Mr. Lewis, I'll call you next time.'"

Lewis informed Ngata that he could call him Ray.

Ngata and Lewis teamed with Reed and others to win the Super Bowl in 2012. After the 2014 season, Ngata and then-general manager Ozzie Newsome became embroiled in a salary dispute, a prelude to a trade that sent the 320-pound lineman to the Detroit Lions.

"At first I was kind of shocked a little bit," Ngata said. "But I understood. I was against the salary cap. I wasn't moving and they weren't budging."

Ngata toiled three seasons in relative anonymity in Detroit before closing out his 13-year career in Philadelphia in 2018.

"The last month of the season I woke up and thought, `Why am I still doing this?'" he said. "Once I'm questioning why I'm playing football, I know it's time to retire."

It was important to Ngata that his NFL career would end where he started it.

Wiping away tears, Ngata told an audience of family, friends, former teammates and fans, "This is an amazing organization. I loved being a Raven. I always knew I wanted to retire as a Raven. I just couldn't wait to come back."

Ngata was twice an All-Pro. He had 32 sacks, five interceptions and seven forced fumbles over 180 games.

Being in Ravens Ring of Honor is special, but there might be something even better in store for Ngata, according to Newsome.

Newsome, who drafted Lewis and Reed, is also a member of the Hall of Fame. He believes Ngata deserves to be honored in a similar fashion.

"When I think about a Hall of Famer, No. 1, did he play on a winning ball club? He did," Newsome said. "Was he part of a Super Bowl? He did. Was he a dominate player in his era at his position? He did. So, he's checked all of those boxes."

Newsome reluctantly gave up a sixth-round draft pick in 2006 to move up one spot in the first round to get Ngata. He never regretted it.

"We had been (drafting) pretty good in that sixth round, so we're giving up a good player," Newsome said. "But we were getting a great player. A rare player."

It didn't take long for Billick to realize that Ngata was going to be a perfect fit for a team built around its defense.

"You knew right from the get-go, all right, this guy is going to be special," Billick said.

Billick never got another coaching job after being fired by Bisciotti, but he became close friends with Baltimore's current coach, John Harbaugh, and remains loyal to the club.

"When Steve called it was a surprise, but it goes to the heart of what Haloti was talking about," Billick said. "I don't think there's another organization that has what this one does."

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report

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Jimmy Smith returns to practice for first time in over a month

Jimmy Smith returns to practice for first time in over a month

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens got some help in the secondary on Wednesday from someone not named Marcus Peters. 

Cornerback Jimmy Smith returned to practice for the first time in over a month and took part in individual drills, coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. 

Smith suffered a Grade 2 MCL Sprain in the first week of the season against the Dolphins and hasn’t played or practiced since. 

With the addition of Peters, the Ravens are hoping to be healthier than they’ve been in a while at the cornerback spot.

Smith was listed on the injury report as a limited participant and his status for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks is still unknown. 

The Ravens rank 25th in the NFL against the pass this season and are looking to get the 30-year-old corner back in the fold. 

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Adding Marcus Peters has John Harbaugh and the Ravens secondary pumped

Adding Marcus Peters has John Harbaugh and the Ravens secondary pumped

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Help is on the way for the Ravens secondary. 

With the addition of Marcus Peters, the Ravens are hopeful to boost a depleted secondary due to injuries. Tavon Young, Iman Marshall and Jimmy Smith have all missed significant time with injuries, and only Smith is set to return sooner rather than later. 

Peters, a former Pro Bowl cornerback, is what the Ravens are hoping will take their defense to a level they haven’t been at all season. 

“We’re looking forward to getting him in there,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ve known him for quite a long time, ever since the draft when he was coming out of Washington. We spent a lot of time with him in that process, and every chance we’ve had to cross paths since, it’s been very positive.”

After two seasons in Kansas City, he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. There, he played just over a season before being traded to Baltimore. 

In his 67 games in the NFL, Peters has 24 interceptions — a league-best during that time frame — and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice and named First Team All-Pro once. 

Peters figures to slide in on the opposite side of Marlon Humphrey, who is having a Pro Bowl caliber season. 

“I think that’s a great move,” Earl Thomas said. “I think we have two top-five corners playing on the same team with him and Marlon, so it’s definitely going to help out in the back end and the whole defense.”

Included in the imminent return of Smith, presumably either for the Seahawks or Patriots game, the Ravens cornerback depth is slowly inching to healthy. 

Peters will fly to Baltimore late Wednesday and be ready for practices on Thursday and Friday. Harbaugh said he’ll play on Sunday as much as he can. The Ravens have made it a sort of habit to get players quickly acclimated to the defense in recent weeks, something they’ll try and fastrack once again with Peters. 

The move also presents flexibility for the Ravens secondary as Brandon Carr could slide back to safety, something he did during training camp.

“Let’s move around, man,” Carr said. “Let’s keep the offense on their toes, let’s be aggressive, let’s make plays, so I’m all for it.”

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