Ray Lewis Out Sunday vs. Cincinnati, Youth Movement Continues In AFC North

 Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times is reporting Ravens LB Ray Lewis will miss Sunday's AFC North showdown with Cincinnati with a toe injury. It's an injury that may cause him to miss more time than just this week.

Per Wilson, Lewis has started 57 consecutive games, dating back to the 2007 season. He missed the final two games that year, one was their ninth consecutive loss, the other was a win over Pittsburgh when the Steelers sat their starters after already having clinched the division and had no chance at a first round bye. 

It appears Lewis will be replaced by veteran Jameel McClain, or possibly Dannell Ellerbe

Lewis's absence - and potential of it lasting longer than one week - comes during something of a youth invasion in the AFC North. The Steelers' veterans have been ravaged by injuries this year, with long-tenured players like Aaron Smith, James Farrior and Hines Ward all missing time. The Ravens replaced longtime franchise faces Derrick Mason and Todd Heap to make way for emerging stars Torrey Smith and Ed Dickson

Cincinnati - Baltimore's opponent Sunday - replaced Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco with rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is getting huge returns out of a very young defensive line. 

All three of these teams have gotten younger this year, but in reference to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, they're still among the top contenders in the AFC, while Cincinnati is this year's upstart. With that being said, it's curious whether the Ravens defense will continue to falter the way they have over the last few weeks. FS Ed Reed has looked like he's either lost a few steps or he's also playing with some kind of an injury. Either way, he clearly did not look like the Ed Reed of old in a 25-22 loss at Seattle last week. 

The Ravens having a new middle linebacker for the first time in four years is another subplot to an intriguing match-up. Cincinnati has had Baltimore's number over the last few years, winning three of their last four games. The Bengals have won five of their last six, and the Steelers seven point win over them in Week 10 was the largest defeat they've suffered this year. 

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