In today’s press conference, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took some time to praise future Hall of Fame middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced yesterday that he will retire from the NFL after this postseason. Brady also praised one of his offensive lineman in Ryan Wendell, who has been making headlines for finishing the season as the league’s leader in total snaps played.
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Here’s what Brady said about Lewis via the Boston Herald, “He is still an incredible player and competitor. I know so many people have said so many things about him. I’m certain the guys that have played with him can probably speak to him the best, but it was a privilege to play against him.”
One of the things that makes Lewis literally a timeless player is his leadership and ability to pump up a defense due to his very presence. He could theoretically play for ten more years and still help his team even though he would be too old to tangibly help the Ravens. But the point here is that Lewis’s intangibles would still carry the day, and he has still been a top linebacker this season even though he has lost a step.
Tackle factor measures how many tackles a player makes with respect to the total amount of tackles of his defense. Lewis finished the year with one of the top 15 tackle factor totals in the NFL, which is no short feat.
Now let’s take a look at what Brady said about Ryan Wendell via ESPN Boston, “He’s done a great job. He’s really done a great job since he’s got here. He’s fought for his opportunity and then once when he got it this year, he took advantage, has been healthy and durable and consistent.”
Wendell came into the season with big shoes to fill, and he went above and beyond in replacing Dan Koppen. He has not only been durable this season, but Wendell has also made each of those snaps count as one of the best run blocking centers in 2012. He is also a solid pass protector, which is certainly a valuable asset on the inside of the line. Some of Stevan Ridley‘s success this season in his emergence as one of the best running backs in the league needs to be credited to Wendell and the guys on the inside of the line.
Healthy, durable, and consistent. Words that describe the ideal starting center in this league, and that’s what Wendell is at this moment in time, In fact, I think he is a well above-average starter, and I bet Brady does too.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.