This feature appears every week on the Baltimore Sports Blitz. It’s just like “What They’re Saying About the Ravens,” but it includes blogger Matt Vensel saying something about what those people are saying. Got it?
--- ESPN’s Jamison Hensley thinks the Ravens need to get Ray Rice more involved after the bye week.
“The Ravens running back hasn't received more than 20 carries in a game this season. He hasn't been a big part of the passing game, either, with seven catches over the past three games. It's not like Rice is ineffective when he gets the ball. His 4.9 yards per carry is fourth-best among running backs with at least 100 carries. Rice also leads the team in yards after the catch. With Joe Flacco's inconsistency, the Ravens have to go back to their most reliable weapon,” wrote Hensley, my former colleague here at The Baltimore Sun.
Matt’s take: There is no question the Ravens have to get Rice more involved, and it has more to do with him being one of the most unique and dangerous offensive playmakers in the league and less to do with Flacco being inconsistent away from M&T Bank Stadium. The good news is there is reason to believe they will increase Rice’s workload. Rice got 20 or more carries in eight of their final nine games in 2011, including the postseason.
--- Peter Schrager of FOX Sports says the Ravens should trade a second-round pick for San Diego Chargers ILB Takeo Spikes.
“I just feel terrible for Spikes. He’s played 15 years in the league and has never made the playoffs. Not once. Still a very capable middle linebacker, he could step up and serve as an upgrade to the platoon currently filling in for Ray Lewis in Baltimore,” he wrote. “Spikes can join Jameel McClain and Daniel Ellerbe in a rotation and help provide some veteran leadership in the middle. He won’t bring what Ray Lewis brings, but he’ll help stabilize a defense that is trending downward. His contract isn’t absurd (roughly $2.85 million) and he can still lay the wood. The Chargers, like the Ravens, play in a 3-4 so the transition wouldn’t be so dramatic.”
Matt’s take: The Ravens should trade a valuable draft pick for Spikes because he unfortunately has never gotten a chance to play in the playoffs? OK, got it. I understand what Schrager is getting at. The Ravens are likely without Lewis for the rest of the season and the linebacker position was a weak spot when he was healthy. But trading a second-round pick for a 35-year-old who plays inside linebacker -- not a premium position -- seems a little silly to me.
--- John Eisenberg of BaltimoreRavens.com says Haloti Ngata and the Ravens defense needed this bye week to get healthier.
“There haven’t been many Ravens teams that needed the bye week more than this one. Sure, being 5-2 and in first place is nice, but there are issues. The bye week traditionally has two uses, allowing coaches time to reconsider strategy and giving players time to heal. The Ravens are checking off both boxes,” he wrote. “The latter is a grinding process of treatment and rehab that takes place out of the public’s view, so there’s no Internet commentary on it, no real-time grading of how anyone is doing. But it’s crucial stuff. In the end, the Ravens’ season might come down to their ability to get healthier on defense.”
Matt’s take: The bye week does nothing for Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb, who are both on injured reserve, but it comes at a great time for Ngata, linebacker Terrell Suggs and nose tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu, who should benefit from the week of inactivity. Ngata, who is dealing with nagging knee and shoulder issues, is the biggest concern as he hasn’t been the same, dominant, All-Pro-caliber defender these last few weeks.
--- J. Michael of CSN Baltimore reports that Jah Reid could be back in the mix soon on the offensive line.
“Jah Reid hasn't played a game this season, tormented by a calf injury that has set him back since the offseason,” he wrote. “The offensive lineman recently began practicing fully with the Ravens, which gives coach John Harbaugh more options as his team has struggled to protect quarterback Joe Flacco.”
Matt’s take: If I was a betting man -- and if you could bet on these sorts of things -- I would guess that the Ravens will make at least one tweak to their offensive line, likely at left guard, where Bobbie Williams was struggling before the bye week. Ramon Harewood could reclaim his starting spot, but don’t rule out Reid, who was expected to be in the competition to start at left guard before that calf issue shut him down in June.
--- ESPN’s Ron Jaworski says that Ravens safety Ed Reed is one of the 10 scariest defenders in the NFL.
“Reed's great ability is reading a QB's eyes, but he does it so well you'd think he was reading his mind. He is instinctive and one of the best ballhawks in NFL history,” he wrote. “If you want to throw to the right, you'd better not look there as soon as you get the snap. If you do, you'll be chasing after Reed as he streaks by you with the ball. Ironically, because of his scary talent to pick off passes, Reed makes every QB in this league better. You must have great eye discipline and be mindful of every little nuance in your passing motion. Because if you don't pay attention to those tells, you know Reed will.”
Matt’s take: At 34, Reed is a player who is understandably on the decline, but he is still a plus player against the pass and a threat to quarterbacks as a deep safety in zone coverage. I don’t know about the part about making every quarterback in this league better, because I’ve seen him make quite a few look pretty lousy, but there is no doubt that opposing quarterbacks have to be extra aware when Reed is patrolling the defensive backfield.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun