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Ravens look to fill holes

Lombardi's Way Ravens look to fill holes

Posted in Lombardi's Way
21+ Comments Tony Lombardi says Clinton, I see Pernell as a situational player and I don't think it will be him that sets the edge v. the run or that eats up blockers so the the ILB's can roa

By most accounts the Baltimore Ravens have had a very fine offseason. Patience and experience have rewarded Ozzie Newsome & Co.

Yet despite the extensive roster augmentation motivated by a goal to get younger and faster, there remain two big question marks as the team works their way through OTA’s in preparation for Training Camp 2013:

1. Who will play inside linebacker?
2. How will Jim Caldwell account for the loss of Anquan Boldin?

It’s worth repeating that an offseason really can’t be judged until the Ravens (or any team for that matter), pare their roster down to the 53-man squad featured in the 2013 team photo. Until then the offseason remains a work in progress.

Looking back on previous seasons, the Ravens have often made moves after the NFL Draft, even during the thick of training camp, to strengthen their final 53-man roster. Willie Anderson (September 5, 2008), Vonta Leach (July 31, 2011), Bernard Pollard (August 3, 2011), Lee Evans (August 13, 2011) and Jacoby Jones (May 8, 2012) were all signed to fill holes, complement current players or provide depth.

They were the right players at the right price at the right time.

Ravens pro personnel execs George Kokinis and Vince Newsome are already well aware of players currently on other rosters who could help the Ravens should they be released. And history suggests that their patience will be rewarded and they will strike when an opportunity presents itself.

If the aforementioned late offseason free agent signings are not proof-positive that patience has its rewards, maybe this name will strike a chord – Elvis Dumervil.

But for the sake of argument, what if the right player at the right price at the right time isn’t available to boost the positions of inside linebacker and wide receiver?

Then what?

At inside linebacker the potential starters for the Ravens include: Jameel McClain, Arthur Brown, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan, Bryan Hall and Nigel Carr. That’s not exactly a group to get excited about.

McClain is serviceable and has clear leadership qualities but rarely makes impactful plays and there are lingering questions about his spinal concussion suffered in 2012.

Bynes is inconsistent; McClellan is a bit like McClain and a bit of a fish out of water in coverage; Hall is looking to move from defensive tackle to ILB while Carr is raw and very stiff in open spaces.

And that brings us to Arthur Brown.

In the Ravens 3-4 alignment Brown projects as the weak side interior backer. A bit undersized, Brown is instinctive, quick to the ball and a sure tackler. Many have compared him to Maryland native and two-time All Pro NaVorro Bowman from the San Francisco 49ers.

Brown could be paired up with McClain as a starter and while that may not seem to be an impressive immediate transition from the Ray Lewis Era, let’s not overlook what the Ravens have done on the defensive front that will greatly aid the productivity of McClain and Brown.

This offseason the Ravens have added Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and promising rookie Brandon Williams. They will be teamed with perennial Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata, the quick-rising Arthur Jones and the improving DeAngelo Tyson.

Setting the edges will be 2011’s DPOY Terrell Suggs, the stout Courtney Upshaw and promising rookie John Simon. Add it up and it’s a formidable group that can eat up blockers and keep McClain and Brown clean to thwart opposing rushing attacks.

On offense, the departed Anquan Boldin leaves many wondering where the lost production will come from. The Super Bowl XLVII hero was adept at navigating the real estate between the numbers particularly the area around the hash marks in the red zone.

YouTube Preview ImageTo attack those areas the Ravens will look to see who among a lengthy list of candidates can step up and be that physical presence while supporting the running game with downfield blocking. No one from the list that includes Tandon Doss, David Reed, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter or Aaron Mellette fits that bill. Perhaps the closest option the Ravens have to match Boldin’s physicality is LaQuan Williams.

The Ravens could opt to attack the middle of the field with a combination of passing routes that include their running backs, tight ends or newcomer, rookie H-back Kyle Juszczyk.

As we’ve seen Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell is adept at utilizing the talents of his players and placing them in position to succeed versus his predecessor who forced players regardless of their unique skill sets to conform to his offense.

There’s a big difference!

But until such time that the players on the Ravens current roster can establish themselves (or not), and at least in some way make team observers forget about Dannell Ellerbe and Boldin, questions will linger.

And if they do Ozzie will look for answers.

History suggests he’s already a couple of steps ahead.

It wasn’t that long ago when folks thought losing Todd Heap would be a crippling blow?

 

Who is most likely to fill the position of No. 2 WR for Ravens?

Note: Here’s a list of available free agents by:

Offense

Defense

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. Follow Tony on Twitter @RussellStReport. More from Tony Lombardi
20 comments
Jerry Moore
Jerry Moore

JUICE JUICE JUICE WE WANT JUICE IT'S JUST A PERFECT SCENARIO

Rants N Ravens
Rants N Ravens

My prediction is, IF David Reed can remain healthy for once in his career (and I admit that is a huge if), he will be the WR who steps up and takes Boldin's place as our clutch play-maker.

JerryB
JerryB

Tony, my guess is that Jim Caldwell will use Joe Flacco's ability and the NFL's emphasis on the pass to provide a much more wide open vertical attack that will feature Deonte Thompson in the vacated Anquan Boldin slot. Thompson was consistent last year as a rookie, displaying speed combined with good hands that saw him catch everything he got his hands on! I'm not comparing Flacco to Peyton Manning, but look for Caldwell to take advantage of Flacco's passing ability as he did with Manning in Indianapolis! As for the "holes" on "D", they are already better than they were last year when they had a myriad of "holes" due to age, slowness and injuries. There is certainly adequate talent available to fill the inside linebacker spot that will require more ability to defend the pass than the run as offenses continue to emphasize the pass. So, not to worry.......

Josh
Josh

Deonte Thompson: Victor Cruz 2.0?

Chris
Chris

That would be grammatical errors Adam.. Nice job jerk.

jdubyathree
jdubyathree

Thompson is best route runner and has better hands than any others, How can Streeter be in the mix since he hasn't played a substantial down, this isn't the ACC or the U and as far as LB's you say Bynes is inconsistent, you have to be on the field to show what you can do. When Lewis was out he made plays, also when McClain was too. we don't need Household names. Those are made when they have a chance to play. If Harbs does things right and keeps people out of his doghouse, Omar Brown will be a force more than Ihedibo or however you spell it. We don't know how Jackson will perform nor Thompson when he gets back from suspension, but don't measure this squad by pre-season games or training camp. You better be concerned about depth at LT first. The D will take care of itself, Krueger, Ellerbe, know they robbed their respective teams and Cary Williams in Philly as a #1? Pleeeeeeeeze

SchneekyBiscuit
SchneekyBiscuit

I think Jacoby will have the 2 most snaps at WR but I think it will be a mix of receivers in there. I am hoping that Streeter can put it all together. I also think Doss factors in here. I know people are getting on him for some drops in the Colts play offs game but he was a 3rd down machine during the year. Most if not all of his catches came on 3rd down and went for 1st downs.

Adam
Adam

You call this writing? I've spotted at least a dozen grammar errors. Please, have someone edit this before posting. It would definitely help.

Robert Fuse
Robert Fuse

If they want blocking where Boldin used to be, they could use someone like Furstenburg or Juice in the slot. I am a firm believer that there are a ton of weapons on offense that can be strategically used to cause nightmares for Defensive Coordinators.

Robert Fuse
Robert Fuse

Come one man. I don't know why people are so rude to the RSR writers. They are human like you and me. I've been victim of mistakes that I've never spotted and I consider myself a decent writer.

Mark
Mark

Was your "Do tell" meant to be sarcastic? Doesn't read as so. After he did tell is when you attempted to make him look bad. I don't get it. Anyways, great article. I'm more nervous for the LB than the WR situation. We still have a little money to spend, could see some new names coming in!

Adam
Adam

First paragraph: After "accounts," there should be a comma. Second paragraph: There should be a comma after "yet." Second paragraph: Because you're referring to the Ravens using the word team, you use "its," not their. Team is singular. Fourth paragraph: After "then," there should be a comma. Seventh paragraph: There should be a comma in the last sentence before and. Eleventh paragraph: There should be a comma after "At inside linebacker." Eleventh paragraph: There should be a : symbol before you list the names of the Ravens' options at inside linebacker. Twelfth paragraph: There should be a comma before but. Twelfth paragraph: You should cut the last and. Begin the sentence using there. Fifteenth paragraph: The first time you mention Ravens, it should be Ravens'. Also, after alignment, there should be a comma. Seventeenth paragraph: There should be a comma after offseason when you begin the sentence. Seventeenth paragraph: There should be no have added. It should just be added. Would you like me to continue? I'm not trying to cause any trouble. I'm just trying to help you improve your comma use. Just a little bit of constructive criticism. That's all.

Clinton Macsherry
Clinton Macsherry

Comma use isn't nearly as prescriptive as you make it out to be. I'm more concerned about TL's omission of Pernell McPhee from the DL/LB equation.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

Gee thanks. Aren't you late for the pancake social?

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

Clinton, I see Pernell as a situational player and I don't think it will be him that sets the edge v. the run or that eats up blockers so the the ILB's can roam free to ball carriers. That said, I do see him as a guy who can get 6-8 sacks in 2013.

Rants N Ravens
Rants N Ravens

If there's one thing I've learned through the years that never fails, it's when someone goes over the top in criticizing you, the best response is to simply ignore them. One of the simplest things there is to be in this world is a critic; they're as common as opinions and butt-holes, and share similar qualities.

Adam
Adam

Keep it classy. There's no need to take out your anger on me. It's no my fault you didn't pay attention in English class. It wouldn't hurt to take a course on comma use, though.

Tony Lombardi
Tony Lombardi

Adam, you must admit that the irony in your response is pretty comical. But it's "no my fault" if you don't see it. :-)

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