Everyone had a feeling that the Baltimore Ravens‘ defense would have a new look on Thursday night, but few expected this kind of overhaul. When Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Darnell Ellerbe all left this offseason the blow was gigantic, but Baltimore hasn’t done itself any favors this preseason either.
The Ravens’ defensive line has been marred injury and now starting defensive tackle Brandon Williams is out of the opening-night lineup.
Williams has been battling with fellow rookie Arthur Jones for most of the summer, yet a sprained toe put the former behind the eight ball. The Ravens’ third-round pick was seen in a walking boot earlier this week, so John Harbaugh‘s club has tried to prepare without Williams the best that it could. Baltimore now turns to eight-year defensive tackle Marcus Spears, who was brought in this summer to serve as a veteran leader for a rather inexperienced defensive front.
Baltimore relies very heavily on four-time All-Pro nose tackle Haloti Ngata and his presence alone makes the Ravens’ 3-4 defense one of the most potent in the league. Even still, this group would be even more deadly if Richardson was healthy. Instead, Spears is forced to start in an NFL game, which he only did six times last year as the Dallas Cowboys decided to limit Spears’ role on the defensive line.
As long as Jones is battling off the field issues and Richardson is walking around in a walking boot; the Baltimore pass rush will be looking for Spears to produce at a high level all night long.