As training camp is now underway, Baltimore Ravens fans have lots of reasons to be optimistic.
The Running Game
If you haven't heard, the Ravens have one of the more talented backfields in the game today. Ray Rice is a machine, and has come in to camp this year stronger than ever. Willis McGahee has accepted his role as the second back, and again this year we'll see him shine in situational running. Le'Ron McClain at 6' 260 pounds remains a premier fullback with running back ability. Expect impressive performance out of this group, if for no other reason than the improved passing attack
The Passing Game
Last year, all we heard from the start of camp through the end of the year was the lack of big play receivers. During the off season, the Ravens added Donte' Stallworth and Anquan Boldin. That takes the pressure off the outstanding Derrik Mason, and gives the team 3 outstanding receivers.
Add to that mix the two TEs drafted to help support Todd Heap, and you get a lot of weapons for Joe Flacco. This will allow the team to stay in games where the defense might have a letdown. The offense this year has the potential to be in the top third of the league. When's the last time you heard that about the Ravens?
The Offensive Line
The Ravens have one of the more complete lines in the NFL. They have great talent and potential at OT, with Michael Oher and Jared Gaither both young, outstanding players, both of whom can play well on the left or right side (as long as their egos don’t interfere). Gaither has been hampered a bit this preseason with injuries, but is currently practicing with the team.
Along with those two, there is a great deal of depth and talent with Ben Grubbs, Chris Chester, Marshal Yanda, Tony Moll, Oneil Cousins, Ramon Harewood, and of course the veteran Matt Birk, who is currently on the PIP list, but should be ready to play after coming off elbow surgery. Any team in the NFL would be happy to have that list of players from which to choose.
Defensive Line and Linebackers
Haloti Ngata. Kelley Gregg. Corey Redding. Trevor Price. And now Terrance Cody. This is a complete lineup with an outstanding mix of size, strength, athleticism, and experience. There isn’t a weak link here as long as they all stay healthy.
The Ravens still have a premier group of linebackers, led by the ageless Ray Lewis. With a rejuvenated Suggs on the outside along with Johnson, and the outstanding young depth at ILB, the Ravens’ defense will remain a force in the league.
Speaking of depth, Ravens fans should give a tip of the hat to Ozzy Newsome and the Ravens’ front office. Year after year, they continue to build a roster with depth at nearly every position, allowing for the ‘next man up’ to come in and fill whatever role they need very well.
For a Ravens fan, there is a lot to be excited about as we get ready for the 2010 season.