Friday, August 22, 2008

Ravens fail to address question marks so far this preseason

Heading into the offseason the Ravens had three big question marks: defensive secondary; quarterback; and offensive tackle. So far they’ve failed to provide answers.

In defense of the front office, the additions to the secondary on paper look solid for the most part. Rookie safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski have both played well as have veteran newcomers Fabian Washington and Jim Leonhard. Frank Walker at this point is a case of subtraction by addition and has been far outplayed by Corey Ivy.

Health is a big issue for this unit. If Chris McAlister, Ed Reed, Samari Rolle and Derrick Martin can all return from injuries, the Ravens will then have addressed this offseason question mark. But that is a big if.

The position of quarterback remains questionable at best and probably won’t be fully addressed in the ’08 season. Answers will follow the learning curve of Joe Flacco. The usually available Kyle Boller has been ducking out of the locker room during the times made available to the media since the announcement to start Troy Smith against the Rams was made. Boller has always been a team-first guy. It is understandable that he could be seething since word is he may not play at all against St. Louis, a very strong indication that Smith will be the starter in the regular season opener unless he goes down like Frazier.

As for offensive tackle, the Ravens are in discussions to bring veteran Fred Miller to Baltimore. Miller was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams and he’s made stops along the way in Tennessee and Chicago. He once suffered a broken jaw after an altercation with Bears' line mate and 5 time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz.

Miller is a right tackle who stands at 6’7” and weighs in at a svelte 314 pounds. Miller is noted for huge wingspan and good feet. He is a dependable pass protector and a solid straight-ahead run blocker. He does suffer from mental lapses at times and is known to provoke his fair share of flying yellow laundry on to the field.

If the Ravens emerge as winners from a field of five teams vying for Miller’s services, it will probably force a move of Adam Terry to left tackle. Terry is more comfortable and more efficient as a left tackle and if successful, perhaps that will help jump start Jared Gaither’s ambition or lack thereof.

Some within the organization feel that Terry thinks too much about the shift from the left side to the right side. Less athletic tackles have made the transition without the drama. Terry has been described as a metro-sexual. Not that that is a bad thing but it’s probably not what you want in an offensive lineman.

Ray Lewis pouting? Well if true it wouldn’t necessarily be the first time. That said indications this time around point towards a few members of the media trying to weave a story when there isn't one.

According to one blog report, “Ray Lewis was introduced out of the tunnel with the rest of his teammates, then walked over to the bench and sat down while the rest of his teammates greeted the offensive players coming out of the tunnel. Was Ray pouting because he did not get picked to play in the reindeer games? I guess this is his silent protest.”

When informed of this blog report by Kevin Byrne, Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations, Lewis replied, “For real. I can’t believe that. You know why I went over there? They were having trouble with the speaker in my helmet, and they wanted to test it and fix it. The guy told me to go over there…Amazing, that’s amazing to me.”

Story or tale? I’ll let you decide.

Speaking of decisions, it appears at though 49ers head coach Mike Nolan is going with J.T. O’Sullivan as his starting quarterback. O’Sullivan was originally drafted by the Saints in the 6th round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Meanwhile the No. 1 overall selection in the 2005 draft (Nolan’s first year with the team) will carry a clipboard and wear a baseball cap. Smith received a $24 million signing bonus from the Niners in ’05 spread out over a 6 year deal. His cap figure for ’08 is estimated to be $11.6 million. If O’Sullivan fails, it could cost Nolan his job.

Did someone say Brian Billick?

And finally, if I hear Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” one more time I might be holding up traffic on the Bay Bridge this weekend. I hope at the very least Warren Zevon’s estate is profiting from this direct lift from his hit song
"Werewolves of London."



Anonymous said...

Ray Lewis ran down the sideline and then practically tackled Ray Rice after his long run. Didn't look like a guy pouting to me. Ray is in a contract year. Guarantee he will be on his best behavior.