A common knock on the Baltimore Ravens this offseason has been their startling loss of leadership. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were emotional leaders that had been the heart and soul of the Ravens for over a decade, and now they’re both gone. One of the most popular questions of 2013 has been regarding who will step up and fill that leadership void.
The most obvious candidates are Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. Suggs, an 11-year veteran and former Defensive Player of the Year, is already a vocal presence in the locker room and has personal relationships with most, if not all of his teammates. While Ngata has always been a quieter guy, his experience and lead-by-example style can easily translate into valuable leadership.
Joe Flacco and Ray Rice are two more voices that could and should be heard more often in 2013. After being given the reins by Lewis before his retirement, Flacco helped lead the team on a historic postseason run that culminated in a Super Bowl victory. Now with a ring on his hand and a gargantuan contract to show for it, Flacco’s confidence should become infectious and elevate those around him, especially when coupled with Rice’s.
He may be the smallest man on the roster, but Rice has no shortage of faith in his ability.
There are several new Ravens that could provide leadership, as well. Elvis Dumervil, a three-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro, has already taken Pernell McPhee under his wing. Daryl Smith, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and Michael Huff are all seasoned pros who have spent eight or more years in the league, and could make as much of an impact in the locker room as on the field.
Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can never be replaced, both as players and as leaders. Though their voices will be missed in the locker room and on the field, their absences give other Ravens — both old and new — chances to find their voices and lead their team into a new era of Baltimore football.