By Samuel Njoku
With the Ravens fully rested after a much needed mini-bye week, the team returns to work as they prepare to battle the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Chiefs (1-3) have struggled so far this season, but are still an extremely dangerous football team. Kansas City boasts the fourth-ranked offense in the NFL, which includes an explosive first-ranked running attack. The Ravens defense hasn’t been playing to their full potential, which makes this game all the more important.
The Ravens’ focus will be on stopping Jamaal Charles. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Charles missed most of 2011 with an ACL injury. Many wondered if he could battle back from such a tough injury, but Charles has silenced his critics with his explosive playmaking ability. It’s a part of his game that Ray Lewis has definitely taken notice of.
“Straight speed man,” Lewis told reporters on Wednesday. “[He’s] one of those guys that are home run hitters. If you let him get in the open field – you saw it last week against the Saints – you jump out of a gap here or there, one seam, and he’s out of the gate. We saw this guy before, we’ve played him before, and we know what we’re up [against]. So, it’s going to be a big test for us.”
The Ravens have done a good job containing running backs in the past. But the true matchup lies once again with the Ravens secondary. Baltimore’s secondary has been picked on considerably over the past few weeks and this week may be no different. Dwayne Bowe is one of the bigger receivers in the NFL. Historically, the Ravens have had a tough time covering receivers like Bowe on gameday. The Ravens will have to get pressure on QB Matt Cassel in order to prevent him from getting long plays down the field. Lewis believes that he can beat a defense any number of ways.
“I think one thing that people don’t talk about with Cassel is how he uses his legs an awful lot. He can run way better than people think he can; he extends plays. Watching film, [we] just watched him run for almost a 25 or 30 yard gain against Buffalo that took them down to the 1-yard line. So, he’s that type of quarterback there. If you let him sit in the pocket, he can make a day hard for you.”
The Ravens haven’t had much consistency in terms of pass rush. But if there is one ray of hope in terms of rushing the quarterback, it would be Haloti Ngata. So far Ngata has had an amazing season. He was always known as a run stuffing defensive lineman, but he’s done an admirable job getting after the passer as well. Though he’s only registered 2 sacks this season, he’s constantly hurrying the quarterback and disrupting plays in the backfield. If Ngata can continue to dominate, it may be tough goings for the Chiefs offense.
Jah Reid (calf) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Torrey Smith (ankle) is still recovering from an injury he suffered on Thursday against the Browns, but he fully participated in practice.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.