By Greg Sulik @GregSulik on May 30, 2014
The Baltimore Ravens offseason was overshadowed by Ray Rice’s legal problems, but now OTAs have opened and the team can once again focus on football. The Ravens made a few key additions this offseason as they attempt to make their way back to the playoffs, and they believe they have enough talent to win the AFC North. First, however, they must get through the preseason, and these are key storylines to watch in OTAs.
The Ravens signed Steve Smith to complement Torrey Smith and give Joe Flacco another target, and he should help the Ravens improve on third downs. However, Smith is 35 years old and has seen his stats decline each of the last two seasons. It is fair to ask how much he has left in the tank, and the Ravens are hoping he will be more than a role player.
The Ravens were happy to grab C.J. Mosley in the first round, and they are hoping he will be the heir to Ray Lewis. Mosley should be an immediate starter, and if he is ready to contribute quickly then the Ravens could have one of the best groups of linebackers in the NFL. The Ravens are trying to get back to being an elite defense, and Mosley should help tremendously.
The Ravens gave up the fourth most sacks in the NFL last season and the team finished dead last in yards per carry, and a lot of that is on an offensive line that lost Michael Oher in free agency. The Ravens made some moves to shore up other spots, but right tackle remains a big question mark. Ricky Wagner is the current favorite for the job, and the team has to hope that he is ready, otherwise their problems will continue.
Rice could still be suspended for assaulting his girlfriend, which would leave the Ravens without a key offensive player for probably four games. Even if he isn't suspended, Rice is coming off a horrendous season, and he could start to lose playing time to Bernard Pierce. The Ravens offense isn't good enough to lose Rice, and they desperately need him to return to form to be successful.
Flacco is paid like an elite quarterback, but there is nothing in his career that suggests he is one other than the 2012 playoffs. Flacco threw 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions last season, overshadowing his career high 3,912 yards. Flacco needs to get his completion percentage up and interceptions down this season. The run game and defense can't carry this team anymore, and it is time for Flacco to be the player the Ravens pay him to be.
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