Defending champion Ravens enter camp with new cast

By DAVID GINSBURG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-23 11:10

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - The parade, the lavish ring ceremony and the trip to the White House are only a memory now.

The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens aren't going to relive last season at training camp this summer. The first full-squad practice Thursday will mark the beginning of a renewed quest for greatness, making the Ravens vastly similar to each of the other 31 NFL teams.

``To me, it feels like we're working to get a Super Bowl, because there are a lot of new people, a lot of new faces,'' offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said. ``The chemistry has to grow with all the new people and everything. Different people have to play different roles this year, as far as stepping up and becoming leaders.''

This team has undergone a vast makeover in the months since Baltimore defeated San Francisco 34-31 in the Super Bowl.

The retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis, the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin and the loss of free agents Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Bernard Pollard and Vonta Leach means Ravens will defending their title with an altered cast of characters.

Five things to know as the Ravens open camp:

1. MAN IN THE MIDDLE: For the first time, the Ravens won't have Lewis in the middle of their defense. His retirement means someone else will have to play middle linebacker and perhaps provide leadership for the unit. Jameel McClain is the leading choice, but he's coming off a neck injury and might not be ready to go at full strength. Either way, the Ravens will probably give rookie Arthur Brown a strong look as a potential starter in their 3-4 alignment. Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan and former Jacksonville Jaguars standout Daryl Smith will be given plenty of opportunity to impress.

2. SECONDARY TO NONE: The loss of Reed, Pollard and Williams means the Ravens will enter training camp with a revamped secondary. Free agent Michael Huff should fill the void at one of the safety spots, and top draft pick Matt Elam will quickly be blended into the mix. Cornerback Lardarius Webb, who tore his ACL early last season, will probably see limited action in training camp but hopes to ultimately reclaim his starting spot. Jimmy Smith, who finally lived up to his potential in the Super Bowl, will also be considered as a potential starter along with Corey Graham. Cornerbacks Chykie Brown, Mark Anthony and Asa Jackson are also expected to receive playing time. ``I'm looking forward to seeing how that competition will play out,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ``You talk about the starting positions, and it will be interesting who wins. Who is the Top 2? Who is the Top 3? Absolutely, I get that. But, they are all going to play, and they are all going to have to play like starters.''

3. HERE'S THE CATCH: General manager Ozzie Newsome did a fine job filling plenty of the holes, but he has yet to come up with a suitable replacement for Boldin. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are deep threats, but Baltimore needs a receiver capable of mixing it up in the middle on third-and-6. At this point, Harbaugh hopes the answer is someone already on the roster. LaQuan Williams, Tommy Streeter, Aaron Mellette, David Reed, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson all have a decent shot at making the team. None of them are as good as Boldin, however, so Newsome could end up making a belated move.

4. CENTER OF ATTENTION: The retirement of center Matt Birk left Gino Gradkowski as the heir apparent, but he saw little playing time as a rookie last year. That's why the Ravens got A.Q. Shipley in a trade with Indianapolis. Shipley started five games for the Colts last season and will compete for the starting job.

5. MONEY MAN: There's no reason to believe a new $120.1 contract will take the competitive edge off quarterback Joe Flacco, but now that he's reached elite status, the pressure is on for him to play that way. Although Ray Rice is one of the NFL's best running backs, the Ravens relied heavily on the pass last season and will almost certainly do so again in 2013. Thus, the Super Bowl MVP must be just as a good as last year, even though he won't have Boldin to depend upon and will be taking his snaps from a different center.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Doug BaldwinNov 25 07:43p

Seattle Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Tyrod TaylorNov 25 07:23p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor (shoulder) said he will play in Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Malcom FloydNov 25 06:53p

San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hip) and WR Malcom Floyd (shoulder) were limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Case KeenumNov 25 06:43p

St. Louis Rams QB Case Keenum (concussion) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Dexter McClusterNov 25 06:33p

Tennessee Titans RB Dexter McCluster (knee) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Kendall WrightNov 25 06:33p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Mark IngramNov 25 06:23p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram's (shoulder) injury isn't expected to be a major concern after resting last week during the bye. It's unclear, however, if his shoulder injury [ More ]

Andrew LuckNov 25 06:23p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (abdomen, kidney) is confident that he will play again this year, but a timetable for his return at this point is tough to gauge. [ More ]

Leonard HankersonNov 25 06:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) is still bothered by a hamstring strain, and the Falcons may continue to take their time with his injury. Hankerson previously missed two [ More ]

A. Seferian-JenkinsNov 25 06:03p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Stedman BaileyNov 25 05:53p

St. Louis Rams WR Stedman Bailey (head) is out of surgery and will be in an intensive care unit for 3-5 days. Doctors are hopeful he will make a successful recovery.

Danny AmendolaNov 25 04:43p

New England Patriots WRs Julian Edelman (foot), Danny Amendola (knee) and Aaron Dobson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Glenn DorseyNov 25 04:33p

San Francisco 49ers DT Glenn Dorsey (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Nov. 25, after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 11.

Marshawn LynchNov 25 03:53p

Updating a previous report, Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hernia) will return in three to four weeks after undergoing sports hernia surgery Wednesday, Nov. 25, but he could be [ More ]

Matt ForteNov 25 03:33p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte (knee) and WR Alshon Jeffery (groin, shoulder) are both listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Nov. 26.

John BrownNov 25 03:13p

Arizona Cardinals WR John Brown (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Martellus BennettNov 25 02:53p

Chicago Bears TE Martellus Bennett (ribs) has been ruled out for Week 12 Thursday, Nov. 26.

Michael FloydNov 25 02:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd (hamstring) is practicing Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Emmanuel SandersNov 25 02:23p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) is practicing Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Charcandrick WestNov 25 02:03p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Charcandrick West (hamstring) is out of practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Johnny ManzielNov 25 01:33p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel's tenure with the Browns may not be over, according to head coach Mike Pettine. 'I certainly hope not,' Pettine said, when asked if Manziel [ More ]

Marshawn LynchNov 25 01:23p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hernia) underwent successful sports hernia surgery Wednesday, Nov. 25, according to a source. The hope is that Lynch can return in late December.

Christian PonderNov 25 01:03p

Updating a previous item, free-agent QB Christian Ponder (Raiders) signed with the Denver Broncos Wednesday, Nov. 25, according to a source. Ponder will start out as the team's No. [ More ]

Zach ErtzNov 25 12:53p

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz (concussion) is officially out for Week 12 Thursday, Nov. 26.

Ryan MathewsNov 25 12:53p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Ryan Mathews (concussion) is officially out for Week 12 Thursday, Nov. 26.

Sam BradfordNov 25 12:53p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (concussion, shoulder) is a long shot to play Thursday, Nov. 26, against the Detroit Lions. He practiced fully Wednesday, Nov. 25, and is questionable for Week 12.

Tyrod TaylorNov 25 12:43p

Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor (shoulder) is feeling better and likely to play in Week 12, according to head coach Rex Ryan. 'I think Tyrod is going to play,' [ More ]

Devonta FreemanNov 25 12:33p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) is still in the first phase of the concussion protocol and won't practice Wednesday, Nov. 25, according to head coach Dan Quinn.

Marcus ThigpenNov 25 12:23p

Buffalo Bills RB Dan Herron and WR Denarius Moore were cut Wednesday, Nov. 25. WR Marcus Thigpen was re-signed by the Bills.

Christian PonderNov 25 12:23p

Free-agent QB Christian Ponder (Raiders) will sign with the Denver Broncos, according to a source. He'll be the No. 3 quarterback.

Frank GoreNov 25 11:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore (knee) is out of practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Joseph RandleNov 25 10:43a

Free-agent RB Joseph Randle (Cowboys) was arrested Tuesday, Nov. 24, in a Kansas casino on charges including felony criminal threats, misdemeanor assault of a law enforcement officer, interference with [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group