Heading into training camp and right on through the preseason the Ravens looked to answer questions about their roster so that they could field the best 53 to defend their Super Bowl title.
The most glaring questions were:
1. Given all of the roster turnover how will the Ravens develop chemistry?
2. Considering the injuries and retirement, who would play the inside linebacker positions?
3. How would the Ravens account for the departure of Anquan Boldin?
Time will tell if they’ve adequately addressed these questions. The coaches and front office will tell you that the chemistry began to develop during OTA’s. Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes and Arthur Brown have collectively improved the play at ILB. And the emergence of the rookie receivers and the addition of Brandon Stokley could potentially offset the loss of Boldin.
That said, a couple other questions have surfaced during camp and linger today, the day for roster cutdowns.
- How will the team address a thin group of corners?
- Will they bolster the depth at offensive line?
Time will tell but as we’ve seen from the Ravens organization in the past, they are a patient lot and panic isn’t part of the front office’s DNA.
Here’s a look back on the entire preseason…
THE GOOD: Joe Flacco’s confidence, swagger and ownership in the offense will yield positive results. He’s growing before our eyes…The one-two punch of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will be amongst the game’s best…Daryl Smith is everything the Ravens had hoped for when they signed the free agent. He’s bounced back from last season’s leg injury, attacks the line of scrimmage, sifts through blockers and is a significant upgrade as a cover linebacker over retired future Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis…
The defensive front seven is very impressive. The rotations available to defensive line coach Clarence Brooks and coordinator Dean Pees should keep the Ravens fresh in the trenches and they will threaten passers regularly…The rookie class is as advertised. Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Brandon Williams, John Simon and Aaron Mellette all look like they will contribute significantly to the Ravens present and future.
THE BAD: Without any noticeable signs of chemistry between Joe Flacco and newcomers like Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark the passing rhythm early on may be a bit out of sync…Ed Dickson’s injured hamstring forces the tight end to play catch up with his quarterback. They’ll need to develop timing on the fly.
THE UGLY: Health and depth is a concern at cornerback…The second unit offensive line struggled mightily during the preseason…The injury to Dennis Pitta made the trade of Anquan Boldin much more noticeable. The offense may struggle in the passing game early in the season as a result.
THOMPSON CREEK PLAYER OF THE PRESEASON: Not much was said about this undrafted free agent heading into training camp yet from day 1, Marlon Brown put in the work and delivered consistent results, so much so that not only will he make the Ravens roster, he could push for playing time as early as Thursday in Denver. Brown provides a nice combination of size and speed and seems equally comfortable running routes from outside the numbers to inside the hash marks. He has good ball skills, doesn’t seem intimidated playing at the NFL level and snatches the ball out of the air with his hands. The team’s scouts may have found a real diamond in the rough with Brown and for the moment it is almost shocking that he never had his name called during the 2013 NFL Draft.