Ravens Mailbag

Street Talk Ravens Mailbag

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June 2017

Will Michael Campanaro finally make an impact for the Ravens? Tom W in Carney

Campanaro should be the topic of a prop bet on one of those sports betting sites! Perhaps they should set an over/under number on games he will play in 2017. He’s only played in 11 games during the 3 seasons that he’s been in Baltimore.

But he does provide something that the Ravens don’t have. He’s difficult to man-up on and possesses suddenness and great change of direction skills. In an ideal world, he would be a great complement to Wallace-Perriman-Maclin. Each year during OTA’s and training camp, we see glimpses of what could be. He tantalizes and then he disappoints by his many absences due to a long list of nagging injuries.

I don’t see this lack of availability suddenly changing. The Ravens can’t depend on Campanaro and I think this summer, their patience finally runs out. I hope I’m wrong but the former Demon Deacon will soon be a former Raven too.

Tavon Young’s injury is a big one. Dennis Pitta’s loss might be equally as big. These injuries during OTA’s are troubling. Does John Harbaugh push these guys too hard? Shouldn’t the Ravens examine how they practice relative to other teams? Jason B from Pasadena

All NFL teams are limited in terms of the time spent on the field during the offseason and during training camp. The level of contact is also monitored. So it’s not as if Harbaugh’s practices are any more strenuous or physical than the other 31 teams. And if you consider the injuries of Young and Pitta, both occurred after minimal to no contact. Injuries are part of the game and the Ravens have certainly had their fair share. But changing the way the Ravens practice won’t prevent future injuries.

The Ravens say that they want to run the ball more in 2017. Will they and who do you see emerging as the featured back? Dan N from Abingdon

The better question to open the season is, “Who will be next in line after Terrance West?” West will start the season as the bell cow. Who the team chooses to relieve West while Kenneth Dixon serves his 4-game suspension to start the season, is anyone’s guess. Buck Allen had a promising start during his rookie campaign but was far from impressive in 2016. He’s a one-cut type of runner and his skills are more suited for zone blocking schemes (“ZBS”). But the Ravens don’t plan to exclusively feature ZBS in 2017. They won’t abandon the ZBS, but you’ll see more downhill blocking/running. That’s the approach Greg Roman prefers. As you know Roman was hired to breathe new life into the Ravens running game – and I think he’ll do exactly that.

Other than Allen, there’s oft-injured Lorenzo Taliaferro who is spending a lot of time learning the position of fullback, and there’s the undrafted free agent, Taquan Mizzell. He’s very shifty and elusive and is a plus pass catcher with good hands. If those hands can translate into an effective return specialist, he could nudge Allen off the roster.

I look for a productive season from West and when Dixon returns, you will see a player who has Pro Bowl potential. They will commit to the run and it will be effective.

P.S. At the risk of omitting Danny Woodhead (which I indirectly did), I see the diminutive back as a pass receiving back and a player who can play out of the slot at times to exploit man coverage. I don’t see him carrying the ball 8-10 times/game to spell West during Dixon’s suspension.

Ravens mailbag

The offensive line has been largely ignored this offseason. The Ravens traded Jeremy Zuttah and lost Rick Wagner to free agency. What do you think they’ll do, if anything, before the season starts? Mark B in Baldwin

The Ravens considered former Jet Nick Mangold at center but he isn’t completely healthy and I’m hearing his initial demands were in the $7M/year range. So unless he comes back down to reality, he’ll never be a Raven. Look for the Ravens to start the season with Ryan Jensen at center. He’s physical and he fits Roman’s style. Maturity is an issue so we’ll have to see how this unfolds.

If the Ravens do make an addition to the offensive line, it will be a right tackle. Pro player personnel guys George Kokinis and Vince Newsome have scoured the other 31 NFL rosters and probably have a handful of attractive vets who could be released. If one is let go, I could see the Ravens pouncing.

It’s also possible that a left guard that the Ravens like, falls off a roster and if compelling enough, they could go in that direction and move Alex Lewis to right tackle. Lewis has spent most of his time during OTA’s at left guard so I do think it’s the club’s preference to keep him there. I would be shocked if they don’t add someone and enter the season with James Hurst as the right tackle. He’s just flat out awful.

The Ravens did a lot to re-tool their defense but they still have a hole at the inside linebacker spot beside C.J. Mosley. Who is the favorite for that job? Henry D. from Fallston

Kamalei Correa is the favorite and not only do I think that he’ll win the job, I also think he’ll have a very good year. During his rookie season the Ravens coaching staff put way too much on Correa’s plate. He’s an instinctive player with a nose for the football. He diagnoses and closes fast but he was thinking way too much. The sluggish cerebral processing slowed down his play and prevented him from unleashing his innate skills. This season the Ravens will keep it relatively simple for Correa. And I think everyone will like the results.

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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 and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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