What they're saying about the Ravens

Baltimoresun.com staff

Here's a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Ravens:

Updated July 29

ESPN.com's James Walker has three key questions for the Ravens to ponder during training camp, starting with the quarterback competition:

Who will win the quarterback battle in Baltimore?

This is by far the most interesting and important position battle in the AFC North because it will have a major impact on the success of the team. It's a race among three players as Kyle Boller, Troy Smith and rookie Joe Flacco all have different levels of experience and skills. The winner of this job not only must run a demanding offense run by Cam Cameron, but would also have to find a way to mesh their skills within the scheme.

Smith is the favorite to win the job because of a good spring and the fact he finished last season as the starter. Boller's starting experience could help, but he would have to play really well during the preseason. Flacco is third in the competition right now and would have the longest way to go between now and September.

• In a blog post, Walker also takes a look at two of the most intriguing position battles taking place at Ravens training camp:

Cornerback: Samari Rolle vs. Fabian Washington This is only a competition because of questions about Samari Rolle's health. Rolle is the starting cornerback in Baltimore when he's available, but complications from epilepsy caused Rolle to miss 10 games last season. Baltimore's defense finally displayed a glaring weakness in 2007 with a banged-up secondary, so the team went out and got Fabian Washington, a former first-round pick, to provide depth. Washington will see a lot of action early in camp because Rolle also will be a late arrival following the sudden passing of his father.

• In his AFC North predictions, Walker offers more of his opinion on the Ravens' quarterback competition:

Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco will start in week one. This will not be a shock to regular readers of this blog. I've held this prediction for months since I watched all three quarterbacks throw in minicamp. There are many unknowns with Flacco. First, he's a rookie. Second, he has yet to take a hit. Third, we don't know how well he can read defenses. But Flacco physically is superior to his two competitors, Troy Smith and Kyle Boller. Flacco is taller, throws the best ball and has the strongest arm. That gives him enough of a chance to win the job in week one.

• John Clayton of ESPN.com believes rookie quarterback Joe Flacco will be the starter in Baltimore by the season's midway point:

An e-mailer from Reading, Pa., thinks Joe Flacco's $25 million contract is too much for an unproven starter. Remember, those types of contracts require him to be a starter to get the big money. If he's not a starter, his average salary is $1.95 million, which is cheap backup money. I think he's the starter by Week 8.

SI.com's Don Banks explains why the Ravens aren't interested in trading for Brett Favre:

Earlier last week, the Ravens surfaced as one potential landing spot for Favre, but by the time that info had been reported, it was already out of date. Yes, Green Bay called Baltimore to inquire about trading for Favre, and yes, Ravens officials kicked the idea around for a brief time before deciding that they weren't the right fit for No. 4. According to Ravens sources, here were their top reasons why:

-- Baltimore is extremely excited about the future of first-round quarterback Joe Flacco and had no desire to put his development on hold for a year or two in order to take a shot at winning now with Favre.

-- After years of cultivating something of a star system in their locker room -- in part due to their own acumen and success in the draft -- the Ravens are trying to get away from such a mentality under new head coach John Harbaugh. Favre is the ultimate NFL star of his era, so acquiring him wouldn't represent progress on that front.

• Banks also spoke with Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce about John Harbaugh's no-nonsense coaching style. He goes on to say that this season's AFC North champion could boast a mere 8-8 record due to tough scheduling outside the division.

• Paul Domowitch of Philly.com sat down with Harbaugh recently. Domowitch thinks it won't be easy for the first-year head coach this season:

Harbaugh's training camp bears little resemblence to the Club Med that previous coach Brian Billick ran. He's trying to turn around a 5-11 team, and it's not going to be easy. He's got an aging defense, no proven quarterback, a questionable offensive line and not a single wide receiver that is going to scare the bejesus out of opposing cornerbacks. Harbaugh said his team doesn't need an overhaul, but it doesn't just need a lube and oil change either. It's too soon to say who's going to be the team's season-opening quarterback, but it doesn't look like it's going to be first-round draft pick Joe Flacco. While Flacco said he thinks he's NFL-ready right now, the Ravens are taking a wait-and-see approach with the Audabon, N.J., native. Asked if Flacco is a project, Harbaugh told me: "The jury's still out on that. That's the $30 million (the total amount of Flacco's contract) question. We like Troy (Smith) and we like Kyle (Boller). The quarterback pecking order in the first few days of camp was Smith, Boller and Flacco. "As a coach, it's a good situation to be in,''Harbaugh said. "You can say we're unsettled at quarterback. OK. And we want to be settled at quarterback. But it's nice to let those guys compete. It's competition in its truest form.''

NBCSports.com contributor Dan Pompei likes how the Ravens have taken to Harbaugh's approach during training camp:

Enter Harbaugh, who lit a fire under this team and then poured gasoline over it. Now the Ravens are hitting the weights hard. They are keeping their feet on the floor during meetings. They are standing during breaks at practice because the sideline benches have been removed. They are keeping their chinstraps buckled during practices. They are practicing in the rain and inclement weather. And they are keeping their jerseys tucked it at all times. These Ravens have responded well thus far. Their participation in offseason activities is way up. They are practicing with more intensity and at a higher cadence than ever. They even had a bench clearing brawl during a minicamp. If the intensity carries over to the regular season, the Ravens are going to be a difficult team to beat.

SI.com's Michael Lombardi gives his take on what every NFL team needs heading into the season:

For Baltimore ... Joe Flacco finding the key for speeding up his game in all areas, mentally, physically and emotionally. His advancement and development as a potential starter in the NFL will hinge solely on his ability to anticipate the routes in the passing game.

FoxSports.com's Randy Hill gives each team a reason to be happy and a reason to be sad as training camps kick off:

Be happy: Jim Harbaugh's brother has replaced a guy who pretended to be the smartest coach in football. The defense is getting older, but young stars have been moving into key roles. Start worrying: Jonathan Ogden has retired, the receivers are nothing special and -- unless rookie Joe Flacco takes the learning curve on two wheels -- they'll still be bad at QB.

FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager offers up his preseason NFL power rankings and explains why he put the Ravens at 25:

Forget their obvious question marks at quarterback. It's the super young, super inexperienced offensive line that scares me most about the Ravens. Long gone are the days of Jonathan Ogden holding the unit together. It's now a mix of journeymen veterans and recent draft picks doing the heavy lifting. The AFC North is a bit of a crapshoot this season and I'm loving what I've heard about coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore could very well be the sleeper pick to steal the division crown. I just wouldn't count on it. They're simply too young.

ESPN.com has unveiled its preseason power rankings and has the Ravens in the 21st spot:

Choosing the right QB this summer could be the difference between a winning and losing season.

SportingNews.com's Vinnie Iyer places the Ravens 27th in the first edition of his power rankings:

It'll be more fun to see a rookie coach and quarterback--John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco--develop together than it would be to see Favre as a stopgap starter.

[Compiled by Dan Morrison]

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