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2006 Team Report: Baltimore Ravens

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Starter: Steve McNair
Backup(s): Kyle Boller, Brian St. Pierre, Drew Olson [R]

Starting QB: The Ravens have added Steve McNair from Tennessee as the new starting quarterback, replacing Kyle Boller. McNair is a solid NFL QB when healthy, which has been a big concern in recent years. He is now reunited with former Titan WR Derrick Mason, who had four 1,000+ yard seasons in Tennessee. Boller has to be viewed with disappointment, as the Ravens gave up both a first- and second-round pick to select him with the No. 19 overall pick in 2003. He has the physical tools to be a very good NFL quarterback, but his passing numbers so far have been meager. He shows nice touch on underneath passes and can be accurate when he gets into a rhythm, but despite his good arm strength, he struggles to throw the ball downfield accurately. Boller has excellent mobility and is a threat to run once he leaves the pocket.

Backup QB: The stable of backup quarterbacks in Baltimore is nearly empty after Boller. The only other quarterback with any experience beyond college is Brian St. Pierre, who has been on the practice squads for Pittsburgh and Baltimore for most of the past three seasons. He appeared in one game in 2004, throwing just one incomplete pass. Drew Olson was signed after the draft and could be the #3 QB in 2006.

Running Backs

Starter: Jamal Lewis
Backup(s): Mike Anderson, Musa Smith, B.J. Sams, P.J. Daniels [R]
Fullback(s): Justin Green, Ovie Mughelli

Starting RB: Jamal Lewis shared backfield duties for the first time in his career, yielding some of his touches to Chester Taylor. The result was his first season without 1,000 yards rushing. While he has averaged 4.3 yards per carry for his career, last year was just a paltry 3.4 per carry. This does not bode well should he again share the workload with the newly acquired Mike Anderson. Lewis has the unique combination of physical attributes that make him such a special running back; the rare combination of power and speed allows him to run over defenders or run away from them. Lewis is limited as a pass-receiver and as a blocker, but when he is healthy and focused, he has the pure running skills to carry the Ravens offense.

Backup RBs: The Ravens signed Mike Anderson to a four-year, $8 million contract. The question remains as to how much playing time Anderson will get behind Lewis. Anderson put up a 1,000-yard season in 2005, the second of his career, so he certainly can fill the role of starting running back. Musa Smith returns after a forgettable 2005 season when he was still recovering from a broken leg suffered in 2004. Smith is a hard-nosed runner between the tackles with an explosive burst off the line of scrimmage, and could see carries ahead of Mike Anderson.

Fullback: In just his second season, Justin Green is now the primary fullback for the Baltimore Ravens. Green is a 250-pounder with excellent running skills for a fullback. He also has good hands and caught seven of eight passes thrown his way in 2005. As a fourth-round pick in 2003, Ovie Mughelli was often compared to Sam Gash, but he received very little playing time in 2003 and did not play at all in 2004. He finally cracked the lineup last season and played in 13 games, catching just three balls.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton
Backups: Clarence Moore, Devard Darling, Demetrius Williams [R], Brian Bratton, Romby Bryant, Tre Moses, Rufus Skillern

Starting WRs: The Ravens have solidified their wide receiver corps with veteran Derrick Mason and sophomore standout Mark Clayton. Mason provides quickness and run-after-the-catch ability to the lead wide receiver position. Clayton has the speed to stretch the field and is coming off of a solid second half of 2005, catching 32 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns. He has the versatility to go deep or over the middle for a catch despite his small size. Solidifying the quarterback position for the Ravens will go a long way in the fantasy production for both receivers.

Backup WRs: Clarence Moore’s 6-6 height, fine leaping ability and soft hands make him a natural red zone target and a solid complementary big receiver. Moore started at the beginning of 2005, so he is certainly capable to fill in as a starter in the event of an injury to Mason or Clayton. Rookie Demetrius Williams has good speed and height. Some consider him to have been a steal of a selection in the fourth round of the draft.

Tight Ends

Starters: Todd Heap
Backups: Daniel Wilcox, Quinn Sypniewski [R]

Todd Heap is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league when he is healthy. He is a great athlete who runs sharp routes and has exceptional hands. He also has the body control and leaping ability to go up high and outmuscle defenders for the ball. He gets downfield well and is one of the few deep threats in the league from the tight end position. When Heap is unavailable, Daniel Wilcox and rookie Quinn Sypniewski will provide some assistance, but neither is an outstanding talent.

Place Kicker

Matt Stover : The consistent and accurate Stover gave his fantasy owners quite a scare during week one last year, going 0 for 3 on FGs. He then proceeded to make 30 of 32 the remainder of the year to finish 85.7%, his seventh consecutive year hitting at least 84%. Stover was once again perfect on PATs. He has not missed a PAT since 1996. The Ravens have finished in the top ten in kicker scoring in 6 of the last 7 years.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: B.J. Sams; Cory Ross; Mark Clayton; Mike Anderson

RB B.J. Sams followed up his stellar rookie campaign with a very solid effort last year, ending up as the 8th ranked fantasy returner. He returned 44 kickoffs for 999 yards. Last year’s backup, RB Chester Taylor, is now a Viking. RB Cory Ross, an undrafted RB out of Nebraska, got off to a good start, impressing the coaches during OTAs, and continued to do so throughout the pre-season. WR Mark Clayton handled a few punts last year, and could also be called upon for kickoff returns if needed. Newly acquired RB Mike Anderson returned a handful of kickoffs during his Broncos career and could serve as a backup.

Punt Returners: B.J. Sams; Cory Ross; Mark Clayton; Derrick Mason

Although Sams handles both KRs and PRs, he is better on punt returns. Last year his 12.2 yard average ranked 7th and his 403 yards ranked 5th. Mark Clayton had the only other PRs for the Ravens last year (6 returns, 5.0 avg.). Although WR Derrick Mason had no returns last year, he has plenty of experience returning punts from his years with the Titans (career 182 returns, 8.7 avg., 2 TDs). As a result of their strong defense in recent years, the Ravens have typically had ranked higher in punt return totals than kickoff return totals.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: RT Tony Pashos, RG Keydrick Vincent, C Mike Flynn, LG Edwin Mulitalo, LT Jonathon Ogden
Key Backups: G Brian Rimpf, T Adam Terry, C/G Chris Chester [R], C Jason Brown, T Rob Droege

Last season was disappointing for this once proud unit. Coach Chris Foerster returns for another year after a forgettable first season. The team only had five rushing touchdowns and star running back Jamal Lewis averaged an appalling 3.4 yards per carry. Jonathon Ogden is still a horse at left tackle but he will be 32-years old this season and his time as an elite lineman is running out. He should continue at a high level for another couple of seasons though. Guard Edwin Mulitalo has started 90 games in the last six seasons but struggled with his weight last season and had a poor season. He must re-commit to his conditioning and work ethic this season or he’ll find himself on the outside looking in. Keydrick Vincent is a big body at the other guard position but missed seven games last year. He must play better as well this year as he was inconsistent in his first year with the Ravens. Tony Pashos became a starter at right tackle last season but is a marginal starter and may not be the answer for the club. Look for 2nd year tackle Adam Terry to push for more playing time this year and perhaps start. Mike Flynn will be the starting center this year but the Ravens drafted Chris Chester from Oklahoma and he has tons of potential to grow into a strong starter. Expect a rebound year from this unit as the talent is there to have a very successful season.

Team Defense

The Ravens record was poor last season but don't blame it on the defense. This is a unit saw Ray Lewis head to IR after just six games while its other playmaker Ed Reed missed six games and limped through ten others on a bum ankle. Yet they still managed to finish in the top ten of nearly every important category. Baltimore was an impressive 6th against the run and 7th versus the pass. Their 42 sacks checked in 7th, they recovered 14 opponents fumbles which ranked 6th and were 10th in the all important points allowed. The only mark against them statistically is the 12 interceptions which ranked 25th. Lewis and Reed are expected to be completely healed and the club spent the 12th overall pick on DT Haloti Ngata to strengthen the run defense and keep Lewis clean. The other significant off season addition was Trevor Pryce who will replace free agent defection Anthony Weaver. The unit looks poised for another strong season but they are not without concerns. On paper the club is very thin at linebacker after letting Tommy Polley go and promoting last year's surprise stud Bart Scott. They are thin at corner as well with third round rookie David Pittman expected to strongly contend for nickel corner job against the likes of Corey Ivy and Evan Oglesby. It gets even worse at safety where Will Demps signed with the Giants and Chad Williams with San Francisco. The Ravens acquired Colts castoff Gerome Sapp who will be given the chance to stave off Dawan Landry, Jamaine Winborne and B.J. Ward for the right to start alongside Ed Reed.

Defensive Line

Starters: RDE Terrell Suggs, LDE Trevor Pryce, DT Kelly Gregg, DT Haloti Ngata
Backups: DE Dwan Edwards, DT Aubrayo Franklin, DE Jarret Johnson, DT Justin Bannan

Starting DL: Last season Terrell Suggs successfully made the switch from 3-4 OLB back to his college position of DE. At 260 pounds he is a little smallish but proved himself to be a quality every down end while recording a career best 47 solo tackles to go with his solid 8 sacks. Trevor Pryce managed a full schedule of games in '05 after missing all but two in '04 with a back injury, but his production was not exactly up to par. If he is able to stay healthy he should easily be able to replace the production lost by Anthony Weaver's defection. Pryce is a solid run defender and is a much bigger pass rush threat. The Ravens spent big by trading up to land Haloti Ngata and they expect an immediate return on their investment. His official position will be left tackle but within the scheme he'll serve as somewhat of a personal body guard for Ray Lewis. Ngata is a wide body who won't make a big statistical splash but will do a lot of important dirty work. After several seasons at nose tackle in the 3-4 Kelly Gregg had no problem adjusting to the 4-3. He has quietly become one of the leagues fine interior linemen and should also benefit from the arrival of Ngata who will now absorb the majority of the interior double teams. With the additions of both wide body and pass rush, the front four has undoubtedly become a strength for this unit.

Backup DL: The Defensive line is not only strong but deep as well. Dwan Edwards was the team's second round pick in '04. He has been a little slow to pick up the pro game but has a lot of talent and the coaching staff believes he is ready to contribute; moving to end this season. Free agent addition Justin Bannan is a solid veteran backup who would be serviceable as a starter if pressed into action. He played well in seven starts for the Bills at the end of last season. Jarrett Johnson is a quality veteran backup who can play on every down and is strong versus the run. He saw significant action and made a good showing last season when he was called on often to spell the starters. Chances are Johnson would get the first call if Pryce or Suggs were to go down.


Starters: WLB Bart Scott, MLB Ray Lewis, SLB Adalius Thomas
Backups: SLB Dan Cody, MLB Mike Smith, WLB Dennis Haley

Starting LBs: Baltimore has a strong trio of starting linebackers. Ray Lewis is the unquestioned leader and the face of the Ravens defense. When healthy he is among the best to have ever played the position. Unfortunately he has found it increasingly difficult to stay on the field in recent years. Lewis has now missed twenty one games over the past four seasons, twice landing on IR before week seven. He is an eleven year veteran with a lot of mileage but still has the burning desire to be the best. When Lewis was lost last season the Ravens compensated by moving Tommy Polley to MLB and giving Bart Scott the starting nod at WLB. Scott finished the season only eight tackles short of the team lead despite starting only 10 games and in the process earned himself a fat new three year contract and a $6.5 million signing bonus. Adalius Thomas has the size and power of a defensive end and the quickness of a linebacker. He is an exceptional pass rusher who will put his hand down as an play end on occasion. At 270 pounds he is very effective versus the run as he has the ability to stone lead blocking fullbacks and/or tight ends at the point of attack. Pass defense is not among Thomas's strong points thus he is not often asked to drop in coverage.

Backup LBs: Before last season no one had heard of Bart Scott and if the Ravens lose a starting linebacker to injury this year they will praying that lightning strikes twice. Dan Cody will look to make an impact at linebacker after being viewed as a defensive end during his rookie season. The team's second round pick last April, Cody lost his entire rookie season to a torn ACL. He is a talented player from whom the Ravens expect big things. Cody has a lot of lost time to make up. Mike Smith and Ryan Lacasse are 7th round picks from the '05 and '06 drafts respectively. Both are projects ideally suited to contribute on special teams. Dennis Haley was also a street free agent when the club signed him last season. Unless there is another hidden gem in there somewhere, an injury at LB could be a serious problem for the Ravens.

Defensive Backs

Starters: RCB Samari Rolle , LCB Chris McAllister, SS Ed Reed, FS Dawan Landry
Backups: CB Corey Ivy, CB David Pittman, S Gerome Sapp, SS Rob Butler, S BJ Ward (IR), CB Evan Oglesby

Starting DBs: Chris McAllister is a big, physical shutdown corner with the ability to take away an offenses top receiving threat. The only snag in his game is a lack of interceptions. McAllister has just 2 picks to show for the past two seasons combined. That however was not enough to keep him from making the trip to Hawaii after the '04 season. Samari Rolle was a mainstay at the position in Tennessee for seven years before going to Baltimore last season. He is not the physical type but runs like a deer and matches up well with the leagues speed receivers. Together McAllister and Rolle give the Ravens a formidable tandem of starting corners. Ed Reed is another former pro bowl starter who comes off an '05 campaign that he would like to forget. He spent most of the season battling a sore ankle which eventually caused him to shut down completely for six games. He was not the same player we are accustomed to seeing when he did play. The ankle has healed and Reed should once again take his place among the league's best safeties. Dawan Landry looks to have won the starting SS job. He's a good-sized player who should be active in run support, but may not be consistent enough in the boxscores if the Ravens continue to align in the 4-4-3 looks they did for much of 2005.

Backup DBs: The Ravens have an inexperienced group backing up the talented starting four. Career backup Corey Ivy will contend with rookie third round pick David Pittman for the nickel corner duties. The next guy in line is rookie sixth round pick Derrick Martin followed by a handful of street free agents and waiver pickups. Gerome Sapp will return to a special teams role after losing the competition for the open starting safety job to Dawan Landry. BJ Ward was placed on injured reserve after a long bout with migraine headaches. The Ravens may again look to the waiver wire to shore up the safety depth.

Last modified: 2006-09-04 09:38:06

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