The Ravens starters have had a bit of a rough go of things so far this preseason, leaving fans concerned on both sides of the ball. Last week against Atlanta, the first team defense gave up chunks of yards on the ground and through the air, while the offense – aside from one long catch-and-run touchdown by Torrey Smith – couldn’t get anything going.
However, let’s not forget that the team wasn’t particularly impressive last preseason either, and they promptly came out in Week 1 and laid a 44-13 thrashing on the Cincinnati Bengals. John Harbaugh has never been one to show his cards during the “fake” part of the schedule. Still, based on his comments at halftime last week, one has to think that even the head coach would like to see a bit more from his front-line guys.
So can the Ravens show us a bit more against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers? We’ll find out Thursday evening on ESPN.
KNOW THY ENEMY
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“The Ravens are the World Champions, but you would never know it when you watch them walk around their facility and see them practice. With all the leadership changes, this team is operating like a hungry, young emerging squad looking for its first Super Bowl. I wouldn’t call it a sense of urgency, but more like a team that left last year behind and is forging a new beginning with opportunity for new players. As many as nine new starters will take the field for Week 1 as compared to the team that took the field in the Super Bowl, but it still feels like the Ravens.” – SiriusXM’s Pat Kirwan on the 2013 Ravens
“This is one of the hardest-working football teams I’ve ever been around. This rivals those Bill Parcells training camp practices when I was in Dallas, when we’d have eight-straight two-a-days. It feels like we’ve had two-a-days here, and we’ve only had one practice every day. It hurts now, but it’s so you can hurt people on game day. It’s a schedule that’s designed to make us feel uncomfortable. Coach wants us to have battle-hardened guys. He wants to have a tough football team. This kind of rigorous work produces that kind of football team. I think it will bode well for us in the long run.” – DE Chris Canty on his first impression of playing for the Ravens
“It looked like it was all gloom and doom for a while there in Baltimore, but when the smoke cleared, the team’s defense didn’t emerge just dramatically different. It got better. Younger. Faster. Stronger. More athletic. All of which is in the direction you have to be trending to play quality defense in today’s NFL, with its host of mobile quarterbacks and multi-faceted skill-position weapons. Yep, you read that right. The Ravens’ defense upgraded this offseason. No Lewis, no Reed? But no real sense of worry in Baltimore, either.” – Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks on the 2013 Ravens Defense
“With Elvis [Dumervil] and Chris Canty and [Marcus] Spears and Michael Huff – these are not rookies or young guys that don’t know how to be pros. [Ray Lewis] was an unbelievable pro, but so are these guys. They may not be right now the Ray Lewis name that has always been here, but these guys are very, very good professionals. In the classroom and [on the field], they are great examples to these rookies on what you are supposed to be.” – Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees on the Ravens’ New Players
“You can definitely tell why they’ve both been in the league as long as they’ve been in the league. They have a special quality about them and the way they run their routes and the way they catch the ball. Brandon, especially for being in the league as long as he has, he can still run, and his legs definitely look fresh. I’m definitely excited about it. I’m really excited about the progress of the offense as a whole. I think these guys will fit in and play their role pretty well.” – QB Joe Flacco on the recent signings of WR Brandon Stokley and TE Dallas Clark
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR! Key Connections
Panthers QB Derek Anderson was originally drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round (213th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft.
Panthers DT Dwan Edwards played for the Ravens from 2004-09 after being drafted in the second round (51st overall) as the team’s top-overall choice. His best season came in 2009, when he recorded 47 tackles, 1 sack and 1 TD.
Panthers S Haruki Nakamura (2008-11) was drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round. A special teams standout and reserve safety, he saw action in 56 games.
Panthers offensive line coach John Matsko served in the same position with the Ravens from 2008-10. Matsko (1999-2005) also coached alongside Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery (1997-2005) with the St. Louis Rams.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera (1999-2003) and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott (2001-10) coached alongside several current Ravens coaches while with the Philadelphia Eagles: head coach John Harbaugh (1998-2007), run game coordinator Juan Castillo (1995-2012) and senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo (1999-2006).
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera (1997-98) coached alongside current Ravens D-line coach Clarence Brooks (1993-98) and senior offensive assistant Craig Ver Steeg (1996-97) while serving as the Chicago Bears’ defensive quality control coach