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Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston

Baltimore RavensPro FootballFootballJoe FlaccoTerrell SuggsElvis Dumervil

Each week, Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will answer questions from readers about the Ravens. You can submit questions during every game to sports@baltimoresun.com.

Here are this week's questions:

In the Week 1 loss, Joe Flacco had 62 attempts. In the Week 2 win, he had 33 and against the Texans he had 24. Sure, for all the money he’s making, he should be getting a lot of opportunities to throw the ball, but do you think this offense runs more efficiently when he’s throwing 40 percent and the Ravens are running 60 percent? -- Bill, Owings Mills

The Ravens have a good ratio right now. They have had some injuries and they have some new faces in the lineup. It is going to take time for the offense to jell. With the defense playing so well, I have no problem with the Ravens being conservative on offense. I think once Jacoby Jones and Ray Rice get healthy again, and Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley become more familiar with the playbook, the Ravens will open up and let Flacco throw more. To be 2-1 at this point, they are in pretty good shape, and I think they are going to get better.

What’s the matter with the Ravens’ running game. Is the problem their backs, their offensive line or both? Or is the problem their play calls? They rarely run outside and often get stuffed inside. -- Mark, Pasadena

The offensive line isn't getting it done. They have two good running backs and the best blocking fullback in the NFL. But the play from the tackles and center has been marginal, and they can't get outside because they don't have a good blocking tight end. Unfortunately, the Ravens have no depth on the offensive line, so they are stuck with what they got.

Why does the O-line look so inept? -- Dave, California, Md.

They have two good guards in Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele, but that's about it. Right tackle Michael Oher has been solid, but the others have underachieved. The Ravens made some changes in the offseason, and they might have to rethink some things after the first three games. Regardless, if they get players back healthy, the offensive line has to make some progress. So far, there hasn't been much.

Can you explain the effect Elvis Dumervil is having on the Ravens defense? -- Marty, Columbia

Just look at the film. He is relentless as a pass rusher, and combined with Terrell Suggs, they force quarterbacks to step up in the pocket. Which one do you double team? Is it Suggs or Dumervil? It's pick your poison. In practice, he works as hard as any player on the roster, which can only make the Ravens offensive line better as he faces them. He is a quality person with great character. He is well spoken and has already emerged as a team leader.

When Jacoby Jones returns, do you think the Ravens will still use Tandon Doss as a returner to try to preserve Jones’ health? Or do you think one game is too early to anoint Doss as a go-to return guy? -- Mike, Richmond, Va.

It is way too early to make that judgment, but ideally, the Ravens would like to have Doss back there and Jones on the field in the base or regular offense. But one punt return for a touchdown doesn't force you to put one of the game's top playmakers on the bench. Let's see how it plays out.

How did you think the secondary played against the Texans? It seemed like James Ihedigbo made a couple big plays. Curious to see how much you think they’ve improved since Week 1. -- Doug, Essex

Major league improvement. The group hit hard and the Ravens were physical at the line of scrimmage. The Ravens had good closing speed and kept everything in front of them. Easily the best game of the year.

Are the Steelers really as bad as they look? They're 0-3 and look in complete disarray. Even Mike Tomlin looks bewildered. And how concerned should the Ravens be about the Bengals? Beating the Packers was a major accomplishment. Are they now the favorites to win the division? Are the Browns that much better with their new quarterback or are the Vikings that bad? -- LordBern

The Steelers are in trouble and Cleveland beat a winless Minnesota team. Big deal. The Bengals have more talent than the Ravens, especially on offense, but Joe Flacco is a much better quarterback than Andy Dalton. If the Bengals had Flacco, I'd have them in the Super Bowl.

Now that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone, who are the players that work out harder and are in better physical condition than anyone else on the team? Also, is it possible to play in the today's NFL without working hard? -- Jerry, Lutherville

No, you can't play in the NFL without working hard, even if you are Bryant McKinnie, or Sweet Pea. I thought the Ravens worked extremely hard during the offseason, and it would be hard to single out certain players because there were many like Dumervil, Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Ray Rice, David Reed, Oher, Jah Reid, Jimmy Smith, Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Sam Koch and Justin Tucker. The list goes on and on. Since John Harbaugh has been head coach, the offseason training program has improved.

Which players are the most vocal in the locker room this season? Who’s playing the role of “veteran leader” with Ray Lewis gone? -- Joey G., Harford County

This team has some leaders in Vonta Leach, Flacco, Rice and Yanda. On defense, there is Suggs, Dumervil, Ngata and Webb.

True or False:  Ed Reed would have retired after winning the Super Bowl if not for Ray Lewis' already-announced retirement. -- Joe

False.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Baltimore RavensPro FootballFootballJoe FlaccoTerrell SuggsElvis Dumervil
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