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Who will replace Lewis and Reed on the field and in the locker room?
It certainly will be unusual to watch a Ravens defense without Lewis directing traffic from his inside linebacker position and Reed doing the same in the secondary. The Ravens haven't played a regular-season game without at least one of the future Hall of Famers since the 2005 season.
General manager Ozzie Newsome addressed the inside linebacker spot by drafting Arthur Brown in the second round and signing veteran Daryl Smith, the Jacksonville Jaguars' all-time leading tackler. One or both of them could start depending on veteran Jameel McClain's health. Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan also will be in the mix.
At safety, the Ravens drafted Matt Elam in the first round and added veteran Michael Huff in free agency. The pair may lack the big-play ability of Reed or the hard-hitting pedigree of Bernard Pollard, but they'll bring more athleticism and coverage skills to the position.
As for the lost leadership, an area that some pundits think will be harder to replace than the recent production of Lewis and Reed, players have consistently downplayed the issue, saying the team has plenty of guys capable of filling those roles. Flacco, Ray Rice, Marshal Yanda, Suggs and Lardarius Webb are among the veterans who figure to occupy leadership positions.
"We're a very unique locker room," Suggs said at the team's mandatory minicamp last month. "I think everyone knows their positions and their place. I don't think there's any pressure on any one man to do it. We have all been around here long enough to know what needs to be done and if something needs to be said, who is appropriate to address something."
February 3, 2013