The Ravens are a week away from their first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons and there are questions that still need to be answered heading into the regular season. Here are the top three:
How will the offensive line hold up? LT Bryant McKinnie returned to camp on Monday after missing the first three practices. Speculation is that he is out of shape, leaving the team to experiment with moving Michael Oher to left tackle and plugging in rookies Kelechi Osemele and Jack Cornell at right tackle. The key for this group will be keeping QB Joe Flacco upright. The 2011 unit gave up 33 sacks, down from 40 in 2010. This year’s unit is a work in progress. But, the longer off season should allow room for improvement and the opportunity to build chemistry.
How will the defense fare without Terrell Suggs? The reigning Defense Player of the Year will likely miss the entire preseason and most of the regular season with a torn Achilles. But, the Ravens’ mindset has always been “next man up.” That next man is Paul Kruger. The fourth year LB out of Utah played in 16 games behind Suggs last year and lodged 5½ sacks and 15 tackles. Kruger is fully aware that he has big shoes to fill and all eyes will be on him this season to see if he can get the job done.
Who will be the No. 3 and No. 4 Wide Receivers? Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith are considered to have the No. 1 and No. 2 spots locked up. This off season the team signed free agent WR Jacoby Jones, a favorite for the No. 3 spot and punt/kick return duties. However, the WR position could still be up for grabs with Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams, David Reed, Tommy Streeter, Deonte Thompson and Logan Payne all battling for a roster spot.
The Ravens will play a tough schedule this season in arguably the toughest division in the NFL, opening on a Monday night at home against Cincinnati. For now, the answer to these questions will have to wait.