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Football is BACK. Ravens Training Camp Preview - Defensive Edition

ravens defense

 Part 1 – The Offense

Tomorrow’s the day. We’re just getting seated at the table, we’ve got bread to hold us over, and our first appetizer comes August 7th against the Niners in Baltimore. Gotta cut 90 guys down to 53 before the main course in Week 1 against Cincinnati.

Yesterday we talked offense. While the offense is getting overhauled to fix their awful 2013 performance, the defense is mostly looking to fill some holes in what has become an annual tradition in Baltimore. Year after year, the Ravens develop standout defensive players that eventually become too expensive to keep. And every single year, guys fill those shoes and maintain the tradition of great defense in Baltimore.

The Ravens D was “good, not great” in every sense of the phrase in 2013. 12th in the league in both yards and points allowed per game, and 12th in passing YPG and 11th in rushing YPG. If they can crack the top 10 this year and have the offense fulfill their potential, this team will take the AFC North and contend for a title. If either falter, they’re watching in January again. Here are the defensive storylines for training camp.

 

The Defensive Line and the Pass Rush

ravens defensive line

The Ravens finished with a modest 40 sacks last year, finishing 16th in the league. What that statistic doesn’t show is that they faltered down the stretch, only taking down the QB thrice in their final 5 games. In fact, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil only racked up a sack a piece in their final 7 games. Baltimore defenses pride themselves on their ability to get to the quarterback, and failing to do so was their demise last year.

Obviously they need to rededicate themselves to the pass-rush. Suggs and Dumervil can’t do it all either. Ngata will hold his own in the middle, but veterans like Chris Canty need to step up and pitch in on the inside. They’ll miss the departed Art Jones on the end, as Brandon Williams is the favorite to replace him. He’ll be competing with Kapron Lewis-Moore and rookie Brent Urban for the job. It’ll be up to them to resurrect this pass rush.

 

CJ Mosley And The Linebacking Corps.

ravens linebackers

Daryl Smith did a great job quarterbacking the defense in year 1 of the post-Ray Lewis era. It’s great to see him back again, but he’s not the long-term solution. 1st round pick CJ Mosley is. And training camp is our first opportunity to see him in action, and I couldn’t be more excited. Prototypical inside linebacker with incredible instincts, safe to say he’s NFL ready.

He already appears to have a leg up on Arthur Brown to start beside Smith. Other battles include Pernell Mcphee and Courtney Upshaw competing for snaps at outside linebacker behind Dumervil and Suggs, who have both proven to be injury prone in recent years. Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan are fighting for roster spots as well.

 

Secondary Camp Battles

Ravens secondary

The secondary is the defensive area to actively watch during training camp. We know we’ve got great cover corners in Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb. We know we’ve got a solid young strong safety in Matt Elam. But there’s not a lot of depth behind those guys. And that scares the piss out of me in today’s NFL.

Rookie Terrance Brooks was thought to be the guy at free safety when he was drafted in the 3rd round out of FSU, but free agent signee Darian Stewart is now the frontrunner for the job. Stewart, like Elam, is a physical presence in the secondary, which means the Ravens won’t be starting a center-field type safety who can cover a lot of ground. That more accurately describes Brooks. For fucks’ sake, Stewart only has one interception in 53 career games played. We’ll see who gets the job out of camp, but I think Brooks takes over by midseason.

The other storyline is the depth chart battle at corner behind Smith and Webb. Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown battled it out in minicamps all offseason with neither emerging as the guy. Ozzie Newsome brought in veterans Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks to join the competition. Ross may have the upper hand to be the nickelback having played under new secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo in New York. They’ll have their hands full against the talented receivers on their preseason schedule, as well as their own teammates in practice.

 

Special Teams

tucker

 

koch

jacoby jones

Our special teams is better than yours.

 

Here’s the Ravens Preseason Schedule. August 7th can’t come soon enough.

preseason

 

Football’s here, let’s dig in.