By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens entered practice this week with a daunting task as they attempt to field a team without their top corner and unquestioned leader. With the injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, Ravens will look for new players to step up. With Baltimore struggling on the road so far this year, it’ll be interesting to see how the Ravens coaches approach Sunday’s game.
Expect Dean Pees to place eight men in the box to contain Arian Foster. With the way Foster has played, that may not even be enough. With the loss to Ray Lewis, Baltimore will move Jameel McClain to his spot and promote Ellerbe. This instantly makes the defense faster and could make it difficult for Foster to run off the tackle. Predominantly, opposing teams have moved the ball more effectively when running straight up the middle.
Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, and Ma’ake Kemoeatu are going to have to plug the holes on the defensive line to make things difficult for the Pro Bowl running back. There is also a slight chance Baltimore may field Terrell Suggs, who tore his Achilles tendon in the offseason. But it’s more likely that the Ravens wait until after the bye to bring the reigning Defensive Player of the Year back into action. Though Suggs is predominantly known as a pass rusher, he also excels in stopping the run.
But Pees explained on Thursday that improving their running game this week goes back to working on the fundamentals.
“If you don’t play the call fundamentally correct, it doesn’t really matter what the call is,” said a fired up Pees on Thursday. “So, we have to get better at technique. It’s the same thing when it comes to missed tackles, which we had a bunch of in the last game. That’s technique, and we have to do a better job coaching it throughout the entire practice – not just in drills, but in practice every single down.”
Cam Cameron doesn’t seem to have quite the problem as Dean Pees. But his situation could be just as dire. The Ravens offense has sputtered on the road so far this year. Against the lowly Chiefs, the Ravens couldn’t score a touchdown. They’ll need a few touchdowns to stay in this game. The Ravens seem to have put their faith in Bobbie Williams as he is listed in the depth chart as the starting LG. Baltimore is desperately trying to patch up an offensive line that has given up 14 sacks so far this season.
The Ravens will face a premier pass rusher for the second straight week with J.J. Watt playing for Houston. Cam Cameron had a great game plan in place when going up against DeMarcus Ware. He’ll look to have similar success against J.J. Watt.
“[J.J. Watt] is one of those guys that you’re trying to get him blocked, but he doesn’t stay blocked,” stated Cam Cameron. “So, you’ve got to be aware of where he is; they play him right and left, but he’s not by himself. This defense is loaded, and they’ve got some changes at linebacker, obviously, but if he was the only guy we had to worry about, we could probably find a way to put two or three people on him. But you double him, you single him, and you block him from right to left. You’ve got to make sure once you’ve got him blocked he stays blocked.”
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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.