Last season proved to be a dyslexic one for the Ravens. After going 5-11 in 2007, Baltimore flipped it around going 11-5. They achieved this without a proven Pro Bowl quarterback, but with a rookie. The defense keeps its leader in Ray Lewis, but says good-bye to Samari Rolle, Chris McAlister, Jim Leonhard and Bart Scott. Baltimore retooled with former University of Maryland stand out Dominique Foxworth along with Chris Carr in the defensive backfield. On the offensive side of the ball, the team added former Eagle tight end L.J. Smith and a former second round pick in quarterback John Beck.
In the draft Baltimore grabbed offensive lineman Michael Oher in the first round. He should start right away, seeing as Willie Anderson announced his retirement. The Ravens added more to their defense by taking defensive end Paul Kruger in the second round and defensive back Ladarius Webb in the third.
What to watch for in training camp
There’s a lot to keep an eye on for this team. The quarterback position has a cemented leader in Joe Flacco, but the running game and receiving corps is another story. Le’Ron McClain started last season as the team’s fullback, but finished it as their leading rusher (902 yards, 10 touchdowns). Yahoo Sports reports the team is asking him to return to the fullback position, perhaps to replace Lorenzo Neal. That would leave Willis McGahee and Ray Rice to battle things out. McGahee missed three games last year and injuries may be starting to take a toll on his body, which could be why the team took Rice in the first round last year. It’s still McGahee’s job to lose, but he’s going to have to work to keep it. Turning to those who catch the ball, it’ll be interesting to see what type of impact L.J. Smith’s arrival (if he can stay healthy) will have on Todd Heap. Derrick Mason put up quality numbers again, be he’s starting to get up there in age and Mark Clayton is yet to live up to the promise he showed in his second season. Growth by Clayton could take this team a long way.
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