Baltimore Ravens: A Look At 10 Players That Will Lead Them to the Playoffs in 2013
Players That Will Lead Baltimore Ravens to 2013 Playoffs
After making it to the top of the NFL Mountain in 2013, the Baltimore Ravens will take the field with a roster much different than the one that won the Super Bowl. Whether it was through free agency, due to retirement or by some other means, the Ravens watched several of their most important players walk out the door. Now, they will be looking to a new group of players to lead the way.
Despite the loss of players like Anquan Boldin, Matt Burke, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the Ravens still have several leaders on their roster. The quickness with which the team changed caused a stir, but reality is, the Ravens still have a very strong sore of guys.
To bolster what was left after their fleeing teammates ran for the border, general manager Ozzie Newsome brought in some very talented play makers. What looked like a total disaster of an offseason for Baltimore has turned into a thing of beauty for Newsome.
Now Baltimore has a team filled with some of the most talented players in the league. The question is, will there be enough leadership to fill the void left by guys like Reed and Lewis
Some of the faces that will need to take control are the ones that have been there all along. Some will be the new guys they have brought in, but regardless of who it is, the road to a repeat will be much different than the one they traveled last year.
The following 10 players will need to step up for the Ravens if they are to return to the playoffs once more. If you feel a player was forgotten, or should have been left off this list, let us know. Use the comment section below to voice your thoughts, or us the hash tag #RML, for Rant My Life.
10. Terrell Suggs
Some would think Terrell Suggs would be further up on this list than at 10, but Suggs is the one player who has already felt the weight of leadership. The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year should have no problem taking on the task of leading his team back to the playoffs.
9. Bernard Pierce
Last season, the NFL world was introduced to Bernard Pierce. Despite having one of the best running backs in the league, the Ravens still found ways to give Pierce over 100 carries. He made the most of those touches, racking up 532 yards, and we can expect those numbers to go up in 2013. If the Ravens are going to make another run at the Super Bowl, they will need the most out of every weapon they have.
8. Haloti Ngata
Anchoring the defensive line for Baltimore will not be enough for Haloti Ngata this year. He is going to need to step up and be a leader for the Ravens. His play on the field will likely be just as good as always. He will do his part on the field, there is no doubt, but with so many changes in personnel, his team will be counting on him to hold the defense steady.
7. Dennis Pitta
The Baltimore Ravens assigned a second-round draft pick to their restricted free agent, Dennis Pitta. The tight end emerged as one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, ending the season with 61 catches and seven touchdowns. If he remains a Raven, which most likely will, Pitta will need to find more ways to be effective in the passing, especially now that Boldin is no longer there to draw coverage.
6. Elvis Dumervil
Thanks to a slow fax machine, the Ravens have a new defensive weapon by the name of Elvis Dumervil. It is a perfect fit for the former member of the Denver Broncos, who’s best career numbers came as a 3-4 outside linebacker, the position he will play once again as a Raven. Adding him to their lineup changed the tone of the entire offseason, and as long as he plays the way he has in the past, he will be a critical part of the Ravens playoff hopes.
5. Ray Rice
In most years, Ray Rice’s contribution to the Ravens playoff efforts would be a forgone conclusion, but Rice has seen carries pilfered away by Pierce. He has also developed an uncharacteristic habit of putting the ball on the ground. In the playoffs alone, Rice fumbled three times, including one in the playoffs that helped fuel a San Francisco 49ers comeback. He will need to secure the ball and protect the offensive possessions if he wants to continue his history of excellence.
4. Rolando McClain
Rolando McClain never quite lived up to expectations as an Oakland Raider, but he did provide one of the most memorable arrest shots of all time. Newsome decided to take a chance on the 23-year-old linebacker, signing him to a one-year $700k deal with another $400k in incentives. The Ravens have given him an opportunity to show what he can do as a member of a team known for its vicious defensive play.
3. Michael Huff
Another Raider turned Raven; Michael Huff played all of last season as a cornerback, and will now return to the safety position to fill the void left by Ed Reed. In his seven years in Oakland, Huff recorded 11 interceptions and defended 55 passes. He will need to increase his productivity if he is going to move out from the shadow of the legend he is replacing. Huff is five years younger and extremely athletic. He may not have the anticipation gene that made Reed such a deadly ball hawk, but he was a great score for the Ravens defense and will be a big part of Baltimore’s defensive strength.
2. Torrey Smith
When the Ravens decided to trade Boldin rather than pay him the last year of his contract, the mantle of responsibility settled firmly on the shoulders of Torrey Smith. The speedy receiver has been making a name for himself over the last couple of seasons, but has not quite developed beyond the deep threat that is his bread and butter. He is going to need to be more effective in every aspect of his game if he is going to make up for the loss of Boldin, and become a true number one.
1. Joe Flacco
After his unlikely run to finish the postseason, Joe Flacco cashed in by signing the richest contract in NFL history. Now it will be on the Super Bowl MVP to live up to that contract. He will need to become the leader of the team in the way that Lewis had before him, lifting the guys up when they are down and leading the way to the next level of play. He will need to display a level of consistency that has been lacking in years past, but if the player we saw in the playoffs is anything like what we will see in 2013, the Ravens should be in very good shape.