The Baltimore Ravens put Super Bowl XLVII behind them when they started their Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Tuesday. The OTAs are voluntary and last up to two hours each day. Players do not wear full pads, but they wear helmets. Contact is allowed, but no full tackling.
The Ravens hope to answer some questions this week. Who will replace wide receiver Anquan Boldin, traded to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason? Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are the leading receivers, who will be No. 3? The Ravens have several prospects including LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, David Reed, Deonte Thompson and rookie Aaron Mellette. Who will stand out this week?
They also need to replace linebackers Ray Lewis (retired) and Dannell Ellerbe (Miami Dolphins). They hoped to get a closer look at rookie Arthur Brown this week, but Brown had sports hernia surgery and will be out four to six weeks. He is expected to make a full recovery by the start of training camp in late July.
Two defensive players returned to practice this week after suffering injuries last season. Cornerback Lardarius Webb returned from a torn ACL and linebacker Jameel McClain returned from a spinal cord contusion.
Both were limited in practice, they participated in individual drills, but not full team drills. They are expected to return for training camp.
Head coach John Harbaugh is pleased with their progress:
“Very encouraged with Lardarius and Jameel really throughout [their recoveries],” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “They’ve both done a great job with their rehab. They’ve had no setbacks, so we’re on schedule.”
The Ravens are encouraged with the new look defense this season. The NFL Network’s “Path to the Draft” asked if the new Ravens defense will be better, the answer was unanimously “Yes”.
Charley Casserly believes the run defense will be improved since they have better depth. Cary Williams replaced Webb while he was out, now Webb is back and he is better than Williams.
Who will play middle linebacker? This question will be answered before their first game on September 5.
The “Path to the Draft” believes that the Ravens will spread the leadership around; veteran players will step up and combine forces to lead the team and serve as role models for the rookies.
While the Ravens underwent many changes since winning the Super Bowl in February, there is a new sense of hope and excitement for the upcoming season. They had a successful draft; now we will get a better look at the new players.
I will miss the players who no longer sport the purple and black, but I am excited about their replacements. Change can be good; we’ll see what it can do for the Super Bowl champions.