With training camp next month, Ravens have built strong contender once again

After avoiding off-the-field issues so far this offseason, team looks to set tone for 2013 season

With about one month before the opening of training camp, the Ravens have had one of their best offseasons in recent years, and coach John Harbaugh has set the perfect tone going into the 2013 regular season.

When a team wins a Super Bowl, a lot of times there is a turbulent offseason with player arrests, suspensions or major contract holdouts, but the Ravens have avoided those issues this year.

They caused a stir early in the offseason with the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin, the release of safety Bernard Pollard, the failure to re-sign safety Ed Reed and the retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis, but most of those moves were expected, and had to be done to allow the Ravens to become faster, younger and stronger and allow Harbaugh to develop a new team chemistry.

But once the knee-jerk reaction from those moves subsided, the Ravens have built a strong contending team, one on paper that is better than a year ago.

They added defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, as well as safety Michael Huff and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil. Their rookie class seems to be talented, with safety Matt Elam, linebacker Arthur Brown and defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

The only negatives the Ravens faced this year were inside linebacker Rolando McClain retiring, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata being out of shape and waiting for inside linebacker Jameel McClain (spinal cord injury) to get a final medical clearance.

Harbaugh has delivered a strong message heading into training camp. The Ravens aren't beating their chests declaring that they are the defending champions and the road to the Lombardi Trophy this season runs through Baltimore, but it's the same theme as every year.

It's about working hard.

"Our guys understand that, and that's been our mindset as far as I can tell," Harbaugh said last week at the team's mandatory minicamp. "They're looking forward to the opportunity to do something really special, just like every year. We've had our share of issues, but our share has been small. So I would expect our guys to continue to do a great job of just being pros and being quality people and citizens, and I'd be very surprised if anything like this was a problem."

A look at veteran LB Daryl Smith

Veteran inside linebacker Daryl Smith may have flown under the radar at the last minicamp, but the Ravens were happy with the way he performed.

Smith, who is heading into his 10th season in the NFL, did a lot of work with the first team, and he was flying around the field like a rookie again.

Smith was one of the league's most productive defensive players during the past decade, but a sports hernia limited him to nine games and six tackles with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Before the injury, however, Smith was the leading tackler in Jaguars history with 1,084.

The Ravens will get a better look at Smith during the first five days of training camp and then determine if he can help them this season.

Training camp sleepers

Two sleepers to watch during the preseason are cornerback Moe Lee, a rookie from Utah, and outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton, a second-year player from Prairie View A&M.

With good size and speed — he's 6 feet 1, 191 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds — Lee always seemed to be around the ball during the mandatory minicamp.

Hamilton, at 6 foot 3 and 260 pounds, has great raw potential and can become a solid pass rusher. He just needs to study more and become more of a technician.

Feeling sorry for Jarret Johnson

One former Ravens player who I felt sorry that he didn't get a Super Bowl ring was outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.

 
Talk about it
Join other sports fans on our Ravens message board SUBSCRIBE TO THIS FEED

PHOTO GALLERIES

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus
  • RSS Feeds
  • Mobile Alerts and Apps

RAVENS & FOOTBALL VIDEOS

Welcome to The Baltimore Sun's Ravens game story database. Use the search prompts below for access to Baltimore Sun stories for every game in Ravens history.