Baltimore Ravens: Top 5 Players on the Defending Champs Roster Entering 2013 Season
Baltimore Ravens: Top 5 Players Entering 2013 Season
With training camp due to start today for the Baltimore Ravens with rookies coming in, it presents the perfect opportunity to discuss the top players remaining on the defending Super Bowl champion's roster.
Now, there won't be any rookies on this list, obviously, but most of the top-five players on the Ravens roster will be due to show up to camp July 24.
Joe Flacco is already on hand today for the first day of training camp, so the veteran will be sure to use this time as a leader and become the main voice of the Ravens now that Ray Lewis is gone.
Flacco will obviously be on the top-five list. I mean, who are we kidding? Leaving Flacco off the list after winning the Super Bowl and having one of the best postseasons in league history would be laughable.
Many questions will be on Flacco. How will he handle the pressure of playing under his new contract? How will he play with question marks at wide receiver?
But with all of that being said, I expect Flacco to improve on his numbers even though the veteran had 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions from Week 1 through the Super Bowl.
If Flacco is going to pick up the team, it would also mean that tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Torrey Smith will have to pick up the slack.
In Smith's case, many have seen his potential but also wonder if he was a product of playing alongside Anquan Boldin that helped take away double coverage at times.
But Smith doesn't care about that because he believes the Ravens have no pressure given the fact that nobody gave the Ravens a chance to win it all entering the playoffs in 2012.
"I feel like there's no pressure at all," Smith noted on NFL Network. "Because nobody expected us to be there in the first place, so the defending title thing is kind of overblown."
That may be true, but it won't change the fact that in order for the Ravens to get back to where they were in 2012, their top five players will have to do their part.
Wola Odeniran is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at WolaOdeniran52.
5. Marshal Yanda
The fact that this guy didn't even make the NFL's top 100 players on NFL Network tells you all that you need to know about that list. Since 2010, Yanda has been named to six All-Pro teams, ranging from Profootballfocus.com, Associated Press and Profootballwriters.com. A classic example of how valuable Yanda is to the Ravens would require someone to look at film of the Week 15 regular season game in 2012 against the Denver Broncos when Yanda was out of the lineup. The Ravens' offensive line was pathetic that day. Fast forward to January in the Divisional round of the playoffs this year when Yanda played, and the Ravens' offensive line looked at their best the entire season. Yanda has been regarded as the best guard in the NFL over the last two years, so to leave him off any list at this point in time would be ignorant.
4. Terrell Suggs
Two seasons removed from being defensive player of the year, Suggs is looking to be at his best, health wise, since 2011. Yes, Suggs is 30, but we all saw how well Suggs played walking wounded in the playoffs, having his best game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, recording two sacks. Mind you, when Suggs was healthy, he never sacked Manning prior to that game. Suggs still has a lot left in the tank and may have turned into one of the more underrated pass rushers in the NFL.
3. Haloti Ngata
I have said in the past five years that if Ngata were to go down, the defense would not survive it. Ngata is still the most important player on defense for the Ravens because he takes on double teams, which allows Suggs to do his thing. Elvis Dumervil will be sure to benefit from Ngata as well.
2. Ray Rice
Rice, in my opinion, is the best running back in the NFL not named Adrian Peterson. He's almost like the present day version of Marshall Faulk. He can do it all by running, catching and even blocking at times. He's still in the prime of his career, and even though Bernard Pierce is expected to get more carries, Rice will remain the Ravens' deadliest weapon on offense.
1. Joe Flacco
The entire season in terms of the Ravens' Super Bowl aspirations, in my opinion, rides on Flacco. We will see if people in NFL circles finally give Flacco credit if he does play well this season -- I expect him to. But something tells me that the naysayers will still make any excuse to make Flacco look worse. He is the best player on the Ravens right now, and there really isn't a debate about it.