5 Baltimore Ravens Who Need to Perform Well in 2013
5 Baltimore Ravens Who Need to Produce
The Baltimore Ravens have had quite the offseason thus far. Joe Flacco signed, what was at the time, a record contract and ensured himself a long-term stay in Baltimore, much to the surprise of many people around the league who see him as a slightly above average quarterback.
While he earned the respect of many with his Super Bowl run, it still wasn't enough to place him in the elite quarterback category in the NFL.
Baltimore also lost many key pieces in this offseason such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. Lewis decided to retire after one of the most successful careers of any linebacker in history and could go down as one of the best at that position of all-time.
Reed was lost in free agency to the Houston Texans who just upgraded their secondary with the hard-hitting, although aging, safety. Boldin saw his career resurrected in Baltimore in 2012 as he led the receiving attack and had one of the best seasons in his career. However, they lost their No. 1 pass-catcher to the San Francisco 49ers.
They do have Torrey Smith back for 2013. He has the ability to be one of the best deep-threats in the league, but time will tell if he lives up to that hype. Jacoby Jones will be the No. 2 receiver for the team shortly after he was named the No. 3 dancer on ABC's Dancing With the Stars.
All joking aside, the Baltimore Ravens won't experience the dropoff in record and performance that many people believe they will see.
Nonetheless, here are five players that need to perform well in 2013 to earn their keep in Baltimore.
Elvis Dumervil has been the newest addition to the Ravens defense, but he is taking valuable playing time away from impressive rookie sensation, Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw had 60 tackles in 2012, but apparently it wasn't enough to ensure a starting spot on the defense. Then again, when you have Dumervil, you have to start the talented outside linebacker.
Lardarius Webb is certainly a guy who is facing a make-or-break season in 2013. He is backed up by Jimmy Smith on the depth chart right now at cornerback, but the five-year vet could easily lose that No. 1 spot with sub-par performance. Smith has the skills to start and we will see if he can do so at some point this season if Webb falters.
Terrell Suggs is one of the toughest linebackers in the NFL, but that toughness couldn't keep him from getting hurt last season. He missed eight games a year ago and accumulated just 22 total tackles. He's also usually a sack-machine, too, with four of his 11 seasons resulting in 10+ sacks. However, if he shows that he can't perform with the same amount of energy after returning from his injury, he could be on the way out.
Terrence Cody is supposed to be the guy to take over Haloti Ngata's nose tackle spot once the big man is gone, but the way Cody has performed the past three seasons has been average at best. He is a solid guy that can plug holes up the middle, but he has yet to penetrate and record a single sack in his three-year career. He will need to fix that if he wants to remain a Raven.
Torrey Smith has the ability to be one of the NFL's scariest deep-threats if he performs the way he is capable of. With the newly-appointed status of No. 1 receiver, however, only time will tell how the young guy can handle the pressure. I'm not saying the 2013 season could decide his fate with the Ravens, but it could decide if they go after a new No. 1 receiver in 2014.