Scott Garceau: Keep An Eye On
So the Ravens sold out their 2013 tickets in 15 minutes. What took so long, remember this is the only teams with a chance to defend the Lombardi trophy. Same head coach, same quarterback, same colors but a lot of new stuff on this 2013 model. With training camp underway (I prefer preseason practice there’s no camping these days) here are a few things you might want to keep an eye on.
O-Line- There’s no parade if this group didn’t come together for last seasons playoff run. Bryant McKinnie is back in the too large doghouse, the best of the bunch Marshall Yanda is recovering from a shoulder injury and Gino Gradkowski has one start on his resume. Wide receiver has dominated the post-season talk but it all starts up front. My guess this will be solid group if not Joe Flacco won’t have a chance to play like he did in the post-season.
DB’s- It won’t look the same but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as good or better. The Hall of Fame ball hawking of Ed Reed is gone, those bone rattling tackles of Bernard Pollard have also left the building but the revamped secondary could be younger, faster and yes better! How long will it take for all the new faces to get comfortable with communication and that goes into a top flight defense? You’d expect the second half of the season to be better than the first as the pieces come together. Rookie Matt Elam, vet Michael Huff and holdover James Ihedigbo work the back end with Lardarius Webb expected back on the corner with Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith.
Teams- Jerry Rosberg’s special teams helped fuel a Super Bowl title. Can they maintain last years level of excellence. Can Jacoby Jones still hit home runs in the return game if he has a bigger role in the passing game. Rookie kicker Justin Tucker was nearly perfect in 2012 can he do it again.
Joe- This won’t be answered today or tomorrow but what about Joe? Can he thrive in an offense that’s more quarterback centric than it’s ever been. How much will he miss Anquan Boldin? Will he continue to win, put up bigger numbers, filter out the noise of his big contract and like he has for 5 years line-up for every game on the schedule. My guess is yes, but it’s worth watching.
Here are a couple of things I’m not worried about.
Leadership- Lewis and Reed will have their day in Canton but the Ravens will march on. Bisciotti, Newsome, Harbaugh are all leaders. The locker room is full of good football players and leaders. The personalities may not be a as big but the ravens aren’t short on leadership. My dogs are still in the house!
Receivers- Personally I think moving Boldin was a mistake but I’ll defer to Ozzie. If Torrey Smith continues to improve, if Pitta and Dickson take increased roles and Rice and Pierce do their thing in the passing game everything should be OK. I don’t know how 2 and 3 receiver will shake out but I think Joe should have enough targets to get the job done.