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Projecting Camp Surprises, Disappointments – Defense

Street Talk Projecting Camp Surprises, Disappointments – Defense

Posted in Street Talk

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The countdown to training camp has begun, with the commencement of the 2014 campaign just weeks away for the Baltimore Ravens.

After an unordinary 8-8, playoff-less season for the team, turning the page and officially starting full practices for a new season allows team and fans alike to finally turn over a new leaf and shift all eyes and discussion to the 2014 season.

Last year’s season was full of disappointments, and all signs point to the Ravens rebounding this year with an improved roster, and, hopefully, an improved win total.

But, even if the team is improved from a year ago, there’s no guarantee every player will live up to expectations in training camp.

Every position has plenty of candidates to be surprises or disappointment during the training camp and preseason.

Who are some candidates?

 

Defensive Line

Surprise: Brandon Williams - One of the biggest surprises in 2013 was Williams’ lack of playing time, as he amassed just 93 snaps on defense as a rookie, but played quite well during his limited time on the field.

A massive, athletic nose tackle, Williams is a disruptor in the middle whose pass rushing ability makes him more than just a gap-occupying interior defensive linemen. Expect more playing time for Williams and more of an impact in his second season.

Disappointment: Timmy Jernigan - If Williams’ role increases, opportunities may be limited for Jernigan, the rookie second-round pick.

Jernigan can provide value in year one as a run defender, but on a crowded defensive line, he may struggle for playing time early on in his career. His situation may be similar to 2013 second round pick Arthur Brown, whose playing time was limited as a rookie, but who is expected to progress each season in terms of his role on defense.

 

Inside Linebacker

Surprise: Arthur Brown - Among the breakout candidates on the roster, Brown is near the top of the list, as his role should greatly increase in year two. A talented coverage and blitzing option, Brown may not become a full-time player just yet, but expect an increase from his 211 snaps in 2013 and more of an impact from the linebacker. He and C.J. Mosley will provide a youthful one-two punch and be fun to watch.

Disappointment: Daryl Smith - A victim of youth and a numbers game, it is highly unlikely Smith replicates his 1,000+ snap season from a year ago. He is still a prime coverage option for the team, but with Brown and Mosley in the mix, all three need to get playing time, and Smith’s role may decrease as all three are rotated on the field.

He signed a four-year deal this offseason, but at 32 years old, Smith may be out-dueled by his younger counterparts.

 

Outside Linebacker

Surprise: John Simon - There is nowhere to go but up for Simon, who managed just three defensive snaps as a rookie. He played well on special teams, but it’s time for him to take on a bigger role on defense.

Baltimore’s pass rush depth is limited behind top pass rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, and Simon has a prime opportunity to earn more playing time, especially in a role as a situational pass rusher.

Disappointment: Terrell Suggs - He faded off at the end of the 2013 season, providing almost no value as a pass rusher in the second half. Turning 32 in October, it’s time to temper expectations regarding Suggs.

His best days as a pass rusher are behind him, and at this point in his career, leaning on him to deliver in the run game should be the first priority. He still made an impact in run defense during the time his pass rushing ability tapered off, and he can still be an edge-setting force for the defense. But 2011 was Suggs’ last great NFL season, and for now, hoping he can come up big in the run game while still providing seven or eight sacks a season is the best bet.

 

Cornerback

Surprise: Aaron Ross - Just a few weeks ago, the battle for the third cornerback job seemed to be a two-man race between Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson. Expectedly, though, the Ravens added some bodies to the competition, including the veteran Ross.

Early in the 2013 season with the New York Giants, Ross proved he still has starting-caliber capabilities when healthy, and if all things health-wise check out for Ross, don’t be surprised to see him on the final roster, possibly finding himself as high as third on the cornerback depth chart.

Disappointment: Asa Jackson - The arrival of Ross doesn’t bode well for Jackson, who was already a long shot to be the third cornerback before Ross and veteran Dominique Franks were added to the roster.

Jackson has more suspensions (two) than defensive snaps (zero) through two NFL seasons, and didn’t look particularly strong in coverage last preseason. He faces an uphill battle to earn playing time on defense this season.

 

Safety

Surprise: Terrence Brooks - As a rookie who was selected in the third round, history says Brooks should face a pretty steep uphill battle to earn the starting free safety job, especially with the team’s recent history with minimal playing time for mid-to-late round rookies.

But Brooks has a good chance of being the exception to the rule, as the combination of the little competition he faces for the job and his desirable coverage skill set should provide him ample opportunities to win the job by the end of training camp.

Disappointment: Darian Stewart - Seen as Brooks’ lone competition in the battle for the starting free safety job, reuniting with former coach Steve Spagnuolo should make the transition process to Baltimore easier for the veteran Stewart.

While Stewart has the experience and versatility that should help him make the team, talent ultimately trumps all, and in terms of what each player provides to the defense, Brooks should have the leg up over Stewart for the starting role.

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Kyle Casey

About Kyle Casey

Kyle's love of pro and college football stems from his passion for the Baltimore Ravens. He has held season tickets in section 542 of M&T Bank Stadium since 2004. He is a junior Mass Communications student originally attending Towson University but currently on a year-long exchange at the University of New Mexico. More from Kyle Casey
7 comments
Jeff
Jeff

Their are so many problems with this article it's hard to imagine Kyle wasn't high when he wrote it. 1. Darryl Smith and Terrell Suggs weren't just re-signed this year to take limited roles on defense. The organization wouldn't be very good if they re-signed players and then sat them on the bench. John Simon - did he even see the field last year? 2. We might be stuck with Aaron Ross playing the 3rd corner slot, but he is not by any means good. I remember watching the Giants on a couple of occasions and just him getting beat left and right. There is a reason the Giants cut him. 3. Come start of the season it may very well be that Terence Brooks is starting next to Matt Elam. But I'm not sure how you would come to that conclusion. Everything out of camp tells us that Darian Stewart is getting 1st team snaps and playing very well.

Vic
Vic

Stewart is the new Bernard Pollard/Ihedigbo for the Ravens. So, you can forget about Brooks beating out Stewart as long as his health is in order.

Rxdoxx
Rxdoxx

Training camp/preseason surprises/disappointments? I think the defensive line lock is Terrence Cody for disappointment.... a second rounder in 2010 doesn't even make the team as a cheap backup

Joe
Joe

I think Stewart and Brooks could end up flip-flopping as well. Stewart has been very impressive so far, and could surprise many by winning the starting job. The hype on Brooks, meanwhile, is that he should win a job, but he is still a rookie and like Elam, could struggle a bit at the beginning of his career. I think that battle could go either way really. Brooks could take off in a big way, Stewart could surprise everyone, and hopefully at least one of them should play well.

JWS
JWS

PREDICTIONS AND CAMP THOUGHTS ARE LIKE.............WELL YOU KNOW!bUT SINCE RAVEN FANS ARE TOTALLY BORED AFTERA LONG WINTER AND SPRING AS THEY ARE NOW WITH WORLD SOCCER THEN WRITERS SLAP ANYTHING TOGETHER.

bio
bio

Couldn't have said better myself.

Sarcasticfury
Sarcasticfury

They did a much better job slapping this together than you did.

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