By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens are currently struggling to pick up a win, having lost two straight games to both the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But with Baltimore approaching the half way mark of the season, there are players that have stepped up and some that leave something to be desired.
Terrell Suggs was not the dominant player we’re accustomed to seeing in 2012. After tearing his Achilles tendon during last year’s preseason, Suggs would struggle to get back on track after his miraculous return that October. He lacked his usual burst and found it increasingly difficult to get after the quarterback.
2013 has been a different story for Terrell Suggs. He’s been relentless from day one and has helped make Baltimore one of the elite defensive teams in the NFL. Some of his success can be linked to the acquisition of Elvis Dumervil. His pass rushing ability makes it difficult for teams to double team Terrell Suggs at the point of attack. Suggs currently has 53 tackles and eight sacks in the first seven games this season. He’s an early defensive player of the year candidate and one of the few bright spots in a team that is struggling a bit right now.
Torrey Smith may be one of the most improved players in the NFL. His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage has been one of his most impressive characteristics. That may be directly correlated to how comfortable Torrey is now in his third year in the NFL. In the early portion of the NFL season, Smith couldn’t be stopped by opposing defenses. Even when the focal point of the defense was clearly to keep him out of the game, Baltimore did a great job of moving him around to keep the defense honest. Now teams are starting to double and even triple team him on a regular basis. That kind of respect makes him a clear stud for the Ravens so far this year.
Ray Rice may be one of the most beloved players in all of Baltimore. But so far in 2013, he’s struggled mightily to get anything going. Some of the blame definitely needs to be placed on both the play of the offensive line and the calls being played by the coaching staff. But Rice deserves some of that blame, too. He’s been extremely hesitant in the backfield and it has lead to a lot of tackles in the backfield for opposing defenses. To be fair, Rice is dealing with a hip flexor strain that has affected his production somewhat. But his play on offense has been poor even before the injury occurred.
Michael Huff was brought in to lessen the blow the defense would suffer with the loss of Ed Reed. Instead, Huff is currently riding the bench in favor of rookie safety Matt Elam. Huff has had a rough go of it so far as he’s struggled with tackling and getting in position to make plays. Of course, Huff is new to the team and could improve as he gets more accustomed to the playbook and the way the defense operates as a unit. But time is running out for the former Raider
Stud in waiting
It happened to Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis last season. Fans of Baltimore have been waiting for it to happen again with Dennis Pitta. Pitta injured his hip during the preseason and many wondered if he’d be healthy enough to play. But based on reports that have surfaced, it looks like there is a chance that Joe Flacco may get his favorite target back in the month of November. If the Ravens can keep themselves in the postseason chase in time for Pitta’s return, it would be a huge boost for the team.
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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. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.